Privacy on the Internet : Are we overreacting?

Internet Privacy

The most thought provoking reading for Week 3 for me was the article Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture by John D. and Katherine MacArthur Foundation. The ideas of three challenges that we will face in the future i.e. the Participation Gap which means that not everyone will be able to access digital knowledge is so true when one looks around. Middle class students with computers at home are more adept at digital knowledge than lower class students as they can depend on their parents, siblings etc. to help them while poorer students are dependent on their schools to help them.

Second, the Transparency Gap which means that students understand that all their interactions with the digital world should not be taken at face value is resounding. If students are able to play a history simulation game they need to recognize different perspectives, be able to check facts etc. Students have to learn to question because digital media will not replace the need for reading and writing, finding evidence etc.

Third, is the Ethical challenge that affects students who are able to stream everything without restriction without access to whether it is age appropriate for them or not. Students need to be aware of what to post or not post about themselves.

Protecting Student and Educator Privacy

To not know if all the tables of information with sensitive private data about us, as educators and students is being seen by others and being absorbed is sobering. My school uses an electronic grade reporting program called Skyward which has every students’ information embedded in it. If this data is shared or if Skyward is one of 50% of apps (according to Common Sense) that indicates student information is publicly available then we are in trouble. And only 10% of apps met the minimum criteria for transparency and quality.

Therefore, before we use an app as educators we need to pay attention to the US Department of Education that attempts to protect student privacy and check apps with the Common Sense Privacy Evaluators.

The Privacy Project readings are foreboding as there is no way to avoid a digital footprint, information that we leave lying around etc. but it is cautionary that insurance companies may charge different health premiums depending on how active we are. This would require us to report our physical activity.

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