#28daysofwriting Day 9: Safer Internet Day

Missed yesterday so playing catch up today.  Spent yesterday evening frantically putting PD together for a Digital Citizenship session with teachers tomorrow and putting the finishing touches to our new Staff Responsible Use agreement.  Since today is Safer Internet Day, I had a look around at some resources to share with staff and as I was browsing came across some interesting statistics that got me thinking.

According to a report in the UK  about online behaviour, a third of young people say they are targeted with “mean” behaviour online.  Based on interviews with more than 1,000 young people by the UK Safer Internet Centre the report also says that young people feel closer to their friends, and feel more able to cope with unpleasant online behaviour that they may encounter.

Interestingly the report suggests that “26% of British 11-16 year-olds use six or more social networks and messaging apps every week.”  As you might imagine YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used.

My own surveys in class over the last couple of weeks with our Year 9 students back up the report’s findings that Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp follow quickly on the heels of FB.  Then the findings start to veer apart.  The UK statistics that Minecraft and Twitter are used by just over a third of young people are not reflected in my findings but maybe that is, in part, because my students are all girls and are not interested, on the whole, in Minecraft.  And there seems to be a fear, maybe borne of ignorance, of Twitter being a dangerous medium that should be avoided at all costs!

Most young people say that technology is an important part of their lives and it certainly seems that avenues for reporting abuse and inappropriate behaviour on social media have improved and become more transparent.  It is important not to overstate the negatives and focus more on the positives, we need to engage in media which enable interaction, collaboration and learning.  We also need to help our young people deal with difficulties and cope with the challenges they pose if they are to be prepared for life in general.

This blog poses some interesting challenges for the millenials that are in front of us in our classrooms.  Diana Shafer suggests that cyber crime is only going to increase as the opportunists take advantage of the spaces created by technology.  However, the environment also offers huge opportunities for our young people to bridge the gap between the next generation and their parents in terms of cyber security and being responsible users of the internet.  The jobs out there for our kids will be in the field of technology.  “The cybersecurity field is facing a global shortage of qualified IT security professionals. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are unfilled, according to the 2014 Cisco Annual Security Report (CASR), and job postings are up 74 percent over the past five years. It’s up to us to spread the word about the importance of cybersecurity and the steps our generation can take to get into the field.”

We have a responsibility as educators to ensure that, even if we cannot understand the true complexities of technology and the dangers and opportunities it offers, we know how to keep ourselves safe online.  We also need to support the young people in our care to make safe choices but to not be afraid of the future it opens up for them.

Future Learning



Last week I attended the 2nd Future Learning and the Digital Student Conference in Wellington.  I haven’t used Storify before and wanted to review my notes and what I had heard and discussed at the conference.  There had also been quite a rich Twitter back chat stream so I decided to try synthesising some ideas via Storify.  I suspect this is a little long and wordy and it only covers the first day but here it is…

Unfortunately the embed code is an iframe and as WordPress doesn’t support iframes you will have to make do with the URL! 



What if? Visions of the Future

Some intriguing and thought-provoking ideas from the BBC. A competition that invites people to submit ideas about what the future might hold for us.

This competition links in appropriately with the Coursera cMooc I recently completed when we looked at utopian and dystopian views of the world, past, present and future; the role that technology has played, plays and will play in the development of the world; the integral role and responsibility that we have in that development in terms of shaping society, societal values, the environment and the way that we live. There are some fascinating suggestions which I will explore in greater depth but one of the things the BBC did was to ask 6 artists to provide images that represented their ideas of the future.

I like Abdoulaye Konate‘s image which he suggests represents the idea that “the future of the world will depend on the attitude mankind decides to adopt. Above all what’s needed is total respect for the environment.”

image of a tapestry which shows strips of green fabric and a cut out silhouette of a person in the bottom right hand corner

Chema Madoz‘ vision is more bleak but a reminder too that we have to take responsibility for the world we live in and take measures to protect what is, after all, our lifeblood.

empty glass with the words "The End" imprinted on the bottom

#edcmooc What it is to be human; Part 3 True Skin

TRUE SKIN from H1 on Vimeo.

True Skin raised more questions than I can answer or have time to think about in the short time we have in edcmooc.  This short has really got me thinking; it raised lots of issues about life, society, equality, ethics, morality and especially what it is to be human.

It made me think of “Sight” that we watched last week (or was it the week before?!) Anyway, the glasslike, piercing quality of the eyes and the invasiveness of the technology on the mind were disturbing .

Interestingly, my first thoughts were around the idea that in general we often resist new ideas on instinct; a sort of defence mechanism, that life is all good and we don’t really want to rock the status quo. A few seek the new things, the different things, while the rest of us watch and wait.  Slowly we start to see the attraction, curiosity gets the better of us and more of us try the new thing, the different thing.  There is a pivot point of adoption; the point where more people have the new thing than the rest and that is when everyone has to have it.

It made me think of Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros”. It is a story of humanity, of choices, free will, control, existentialist and dystopian but also utopian in the end – true humanity comes through.

It made me think about the increasingly blurry line between humans and machines.  If we can “back-up” our memories like computers where doe the human end and the machine begin?  When our hard drive gets full we can archive old memories and make space for more or store them to review later. It is not a new concept – J.J Rowling’s character Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter used a pensieve to store his thoughts!

If we will be able to store our thoughts, our knowledge, our feelings, how will that impact on learning?  As we age all those things will not be lost – they will be retrievable (as long as we store them logically).  But will they become distorted?  Will they evolve in the telling and remembering as our memories tend to now? Will we be able to “save as” but keep the original?  How much of our ability to empathise, to understand, to feel, to analyse will be lost?  Will the nuances of our memories  remain, the context, the reality?

I was also prompted to think of man’s age old quest for eternal youth (also a theme in Harry Potter!); the idea that we can regenerate, get a new body to replace an old worn out one but maintain our memories, thoughts and experiences.  How much of our humanity are we prepared to sacrifice for that?

not hiring naturals

In the short those who had not chosen (or maybe could not) to “enhance” were seen as second class citizens, old, sick, pathetic, destined to beg for their survival in the street, unable to get jobs.

“Let’s face it, no-one wants to be like them, entirely organic”.  “No-one want to get sick and old and die”.   

If there is a world where the sick and the old are percieved to be irrelevant, surplus to requirements where will that end?  Relationships, family, society, community, the ability to care for each other, nurture, revere, respect, communicate, connect, hope – they are the human qualities that give our lives meaning.  Without them we are reduced to machines.  The lines will no longer be blurred.