Mary Beth Hertz and the Discussion of Internet Privacy

This week we had the opportunity to hear from guest speaker Mary Beth Hertz.  Hertz is the writer of Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet: Practical Classroom Applications, which will be put onto my must read list.  Out of the many different topics that Mary Beth discussed with the class a few of the key points resonated with me most was the importance of teaching internet privacy, and sharing with students how the internet tracks their data.

Mary Beth discussed the importance of teaching students about the internet.  For example Mary Beth told us she teaches students what happens with our data, how our data is shared and what a cookie is.  As an instructional technology consultant my job is to support students and teachers with using technology for educational purposes.  The conversation around privacy really made me reflect to think about what I can do to better myself as a educator, in order to provide opportunities for myself to learn more about the privacy issues that are faced by educators and students.

In my journey to learn a little bit more about internet privacy I decided to look into what exactly is an internet cookie.  The following video by Concordia University provides a bit more insight to what a cookie can do and what it is used for. Have you ever wondered why ads for things that you just were looking at are popping up on your Facebook wall? Why are you seeing ads for relevant items on Twitter? The answer is cookies!

The video also provides some ideas as to how to increase our privacy as Canadians browsing the web.  I would strongly encourage you if you have 3 minutes to check this video out.

Mary Beth discussed the United States Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  COPPA requires parental consent for collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.  In Canada, we do not have a law like this.  It appears but is generally unclear on how COPPA affects Canada.  In the situation of YouTube.  Because YouTube is American based, and has American children as viewers, it is requiring all people regardless of location to follow COPPA. Last semester I noticed there was a difference in how I could upload my YouTube videos with a much larger emphasis put on whether or not my video was targeted towards children.  Little did I know, at the time this was due to COPPA being enacted by YouTube.

With the recent hype around smart devices such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa. It makes me question, how is Google using that data to market towards me? And if so how can Google/Amazon decipher children’s data from adults data? How can these smart devices be COPPA compliant?  These are questions that I do not know the answers about but I am interested in as I have these devices in my home.

According to an article by the Huffington Post, the Privacy Commissioner has issued guidelines that are similar to COPPA, but they are not enforceable by Canadian Law.  Further into my research I have found that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) of Canada completed a privacy sweep in 2015.

The OPC found that 62% of websites and apps they examined mentioned that they may disclose personal information to third parties.

From the Globe and Mail article provides some interesting facts from the OPC privacy sweep.

  • 1,494: Total number of apps and websites assessed in the global privacy sweep
  • 172: Popular apps and websites assessed in Canada
  • 62 per cent: Proportion of the websites and apps popular in Canada examined by the OPC that stated they might share users’ personal information with third parties
  • 29 per cent: Proportion of the sites and apps that sought parental consent before collecting children’s information
  • 13 per cent: Proportion of apps and sites that offered parents control over some privacy settings
  • 62 per cent: Websites and apps that included links – such as in ads or notices of contests – that, if clicked, could take kids to other sites with a variety of privacy policies

For those of you who are interested in teaching your students or educating your children on internet privacy, I have also found a variety of resources for teachers provided by the OPC that would be worthwhile to check out for teachers and parents.

Lastly, I believe as educators in Canada I believe as it currently stands we must do a lot more ourselves to educate ourselves on internet privacy.  Personally I need to be more responsible when it comes to signing up for websites, and services.  This begins with reading the privacy policy and the terms of use.  I believe that this is an important action to model for students.  It is clear that Canada needs to do more in protecting the privacy of children navigating the online spaces, and as educators we need to fill this void to educate children about internet privacy.

Digital Citizenship Major Project: An In-Depth App Analysis

For my major project I have decided will entail my personal journey into digital media both personally, and educationally.  In my current position it is an expectation that we are up and current on trending educational technology that is implemented into the classroom, as well as having an idea of the technology that our students are using on a daily basis.  I have decided that because this project fits well within the context of my position as an instructional technology consultant that it would be a great asset to share with my school division, and aid in the implementation of these apps for teachers in our division.  As an EdTech Leader we often look at the purpose of the apps, in addition to one of our main concerns with the implementation of new technology, privacy.  Some of the questions we have to look at include:

  • Where is the student information stored?
  • What happens if the company sells?
  • Do companies sell student data?
  • Are students being marketed towards?

The apps that I am going to look at include

  • TikTok (An app that is fairly new to me that could potentially has engaging potential for education),
  • Seesaw (A very popular app that is being used by many educators in ourschool division, I have some experience with Seesaw)
  • Wakelet (A fairly new app to me, but again have some experience but have seen limited use in the classroom)
  • and as Matteo is doing (time permitting a surprise app)

I am still trying to fabricate how I am going to present, and the information that I am going to gather.  There currently is a lot of educational websites that tackle investigations into these apps, such as Common Sense Media.  I want to make something different, while still providing the full review of the app. Currently I am hoping on housing these full reviews on a web creation site such as Adobe Spark Page in which I have played around briefly with, or with Adobe Dreamweaver, in which I have no experience with, but would tie in nicely with some of the coding experience I have taken in my last course.

My current ideas for providing my in-depth app analysis includes:

  • description
  • in-depth review
  • tutorials
  • privacy policy,
  • educational value
  • lessons
  • testimonies
  • podcasts
  • Alignment to the ISTE Standards (What our school division follows)

Where applicable I will encourage teachers I am working with to look at the use of apps in an educational setting or to use the apps within a personal setting, and get their feedback on using the applications.  I will possibly with school division permission, pilot the educational apps and provide testimonies of the classroom experiences.  These experiences will be documented not only on the website that will be created but as well as through Twitter.

Time permitting I will like to take a deep dive into how teachers are implementing these apps within the classroom, and hopefully step outside my comfort zone and produce some podcasts related to teachers who are implementing these programs in the classroom.  For podcasting I plan to use Anchor, this is a very user friendly app that I have used with students and will suit my needs perfectly for podcasting this semester.

I am excited to venture into this project as it will allow me to research and reflect on my learning as a educator, and as a EdTech leader for my school division.


A Bit about Me, Curtis Bourassa

A bit about me.  Currently I am an Instructional Technology Consultant with South East Cornerstone Public School Division.  I like to think that my job is one of the best jobs in the field of education as it allows me to observe what other teachers are doing in their classroom, opened many learning experiences and opportunities, allows for co-teaching, and shares my passion for using technology appropriately in the classroom.

Outside of the classroom, I currently am in the midst of wedding planning and this has taken up a large amount of my time.  I also enjoy travelling in my summers, spending time catching up with friends, and watching and playing sports.

ECI832: Digital Citizenship is of interest to me because I believe it is critical that we teach students, and become aware as educators how to become digital citizens.  We need to teach students and educators to be critical consumers of the the digital content we are exposed to.  This class pairs hand-in-hand with my position as an Instructional Technology Consultant, and thus I am excited learn and share my learning with others.