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Posts Tagged ‘cyberwellness

I think the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) cannot be implemented fast enough.

According to the PDPA site:

Provisions relating to the DNC Registry came into effect on 2 January 2014 and the main data protection rules will come into force on 2 July 2014.

DNC is Do Not Call. It also covers Do Not Text and Do Not Fax. I wish it had Do Not Email.

Like most people in Singapore, I still get spam text messages. I did not subscribe to any of them nor did I agree to receive them, but I am always told I can unsubscribe from them.

My son has his own smartphone and he gets messages informing him of ATM withdrawals and advertisements to attend courses or to buy condominiums.

I assume that since he has a prepaid SIM card number, the previous owner of the number set up the ATM withdrawal alert. These texts are from a bank we do not have an account with and the alerts are for $1,000 withdrawals. From the frequency of the withdrawals, my guess is that the previous owner has a gambling habit.

How now, PDPA?

My son attends Primary school and is too young to attend accounting and other courses the texts tout. He is not interested in them either. Nor is he rich enough to buy a condominium.

Maybe he has money squirreled away somewhere. According to other text messages, he makes frequent $1,000 withdrawals.

But I digress.

When my son asked me why he should not reply or unsubscribe, I told him that was a sure-fire way of letting the marketers know that he existed. He would get even more text messages as a result.

When he asked me why they would send such messages to a kid, I told him that they did not know that he was a child. And in this case, I do not really hold the marketers responsible.

The mobile operators are guilty of being loose with their databases. It is not enough that they make money out of the services we pay for. They also want to profit from our information.

But I digress again.

Learning to deal with spam texts is an early 21st century competency. It is about managing your personal information.

We cannot expect most schools to teach kids this competency because most schools ban or restrict the use of smartphones, particularly among the younger kids.

When schools do make an attempt, it might be an e-learning module led by Garfield (that fat orange cat) that even young kids know has nothing to do with reality. Kids can tell if a situation is not real or the consequences not dire.

Parents can put their hope in schools or wait for the PDPA to come into effect. They can also choose to categorize this as a small issue and ignore it. Doing any of these are mistakes. These are teachable moments that are authentic and meaningful.

I saw this tweet recently:

Does closing one’s browser immediately really help? It certainly takes the site away from one’s sight. But it does not take the problem away, nor does the action teach the child why.

I think the tweet means to say: Teach your child to recognize inappropriate or harmful content. This requires spending time with the child and effort in mentoring them.

Closing a browser quickly is like an unthinking reflex or a response to a barked order. I would rather a child leave the site on screen and be able to discuss what is “inappropriate” and why before closing it.

Some might consider a page with porn or racial hatred inappropriate. I would consider a luscious display of melons and a banana inappropriate to show to someone who is fasting. Need I explain why?

Most folk would not blink on reading this tweet:

Most of the tips at the URL are reasonable but they should not be implemented as unquestioned, blanket rules.

I have different perspectives on the tweet and one of the tips.

Few question the term “cyberwellness”. I think that it is an oxymoron given how the word cyber is often paired with the words attack, bullying, threat, terrorism. Cyber is negative.

Cyberwellness is negative wellness, or to put it another way, putting up with something that is somehow inherently bad. Do a basic analysis of so-called cyberwellness tips and you will discover that most are restrictive, e.g., do not let your child play video games for more than two hours per day.

The underlying assumption that video games are bad or a waste of time should be questioned.

Why is the limit two hours and is that the limit regardless of whether it is a weekday or weekend?

Why do we have different rules for the analogue and digital worlds? The same parents that would not limit a child’s playtime with LEGO would limit a creative process like surviving and building in Minecraft.

Why do we not have rules about unnecessary tuition and completing assessment book drills? How about tips on how not to be stupefied by schooling?

Why is the analogue mostly good and the digital mostly bad?

I know why. It starts with ignorance, e.g., a parent not playing video games with their child or refusing to analyze information about gaming. Ignorance feeds fear which in turn reinforces ignorance.

But breaking this unhealthy cycle is difficult because the very things that can educate parents (video games and the Internet) are what they are already afraid of.

Video source

Majority Rules by amchu, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  amchu 

I love Scott McLeod’s “26 Internet safety talking points“. Here is a sample:

Mobile phones, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs, Wikispaces, Google, and whatever other technologies you’re blocking are not inherently evil. Stop demonizing them and focus on people’s behavior, not the tools, particularly when it comes to making policy.

You don’t need special policies for specific tools. Just check that the policies you have are inclusive of electronic communication channels and then enforce the policies you already have on bullying, cheating, sexual harassment, inappropriate communication, illicit behavior, etc.

Why are you penalizing the 95% for the 5%? You don’t do this in other areas of discipline at school. Even though you know some students will use their voices or bodies inappropriately in school, you don’t ban everyone from speaking or moving. You know some students may show up drunk to the prom, yet you don’t cancel the prom because of a few rule breakers. Instead, you assume that most students will act appropriately most of the time and then you enforce reasonable expectations and policies for the occasional few that don’t.

When a blog article is this good, there is little to add. Except to add it to a list of bookmarks, Evernote, Diigo, Delicious, etc. for future reference!

One of the disadvantages of having a Twitter handle like mine (@ashley) is that I get mistaken for any and all Ashleys in the Twitterverse. I cannot tell you exactly how many people I have to filter out in my Twitter mentions column every day!

Yesterday was an exceptional day because an Ashley in Twitter committed suicide after leaving clues in her Twitter stream and Tumblr account.

I had at least 50 teens retweeting the news in a short space of time and it was something that actually trended where the tragedy occurred.

Two things got reinforced: Twitter is not dead among teens and people need to take what happens online more seriously.

Cyberwellness is not just about protecting the less experienced from harm that comes from without. It is also about protecting them from the harm from within.

Video source

It’s Friday, so it’s time for something seriously light-hearted. This video is from the Ministry of Defence, UK.

The agenda was not anti-social media. The message was be safe, not sorry. You can understand this from the military point of view.

Companies and schools worry about the same thing but for different reasons.

Apple doesn’t want its employees tweeting about iPhone 5 or iPad 3 because it’s a dog eat dog world business world. You can understand that. Schools don’t want teachers ranting about horrible student work because it’s unprofessional. Understandable.

So we should all think before we post online because EVERYONE can read what we think or feel. Everyone can interpret or misinterpret what we say. Everyone. This includes those that support you (hello!) and those that don’t (hell-o!).

But worrying about this can stifle both creative and critical thought. People use social media for many things: To share, rant, crowdsource ideas, get feedback, promote, etc.

I use it to reflect out loud. If you agree with me, great. If you don’t, even better. Let’s think when we share!

Have you ever noticed how negative a word “cyber” is sometimes? Take cyberterrorism, cyberattack or cyberbullying for example.

Even the well intentioned “cyberwellness” implies that something is not right with life online, and that in order to be well, one must take steps to avoid dangers. I agree. It would be unrealistic not to. But there are surely there is more to cyberwellness than identifying what is wrong with the Internet.

There are many definitions of cyberwellness. Mine is simply being able to effectively manage one’s online behaviors and identity for the betterment of self and others. There are two parts of being cyber well:

  • being aware of dangers and avoiding pitfalls
  • taking advantage of the benefits and being socially responsible in the process

I don’t think we do enough of the latter part in education. If we did, there would be less fear and ignorance.

The Onion, the news satire website, is always good for a laugh, that is, provided you know that it’s poking fun at real life events or people!

One of their latest “news reports” was a stab at Justin Bieber (gag!).

Video source

But not everyone realized that it was satire. Here is a snapshot of group of local students and a teacher having a Facebook conversation about it (click to see larger version). I have blocked out the names and faces to protect their identities. (Bieber, on the other hand, needs no protection. Quite the opposite, really.)

Click to see larger version

It’s enough to make you cry. I’m not referring to The Onion, but to the use of English and the digital ignorance.

I won’t say much about the teaching and learning of English because that is the domain of English teachers. I will say that what I have captured is quite typical and yet still decipherable. (It is almost impossible to read the tweeny and teeny tweets that come my way accidentally because my handle is @ashley.)

What worries me is that the analysis and evaluation of digital resources does not seem to feature prominently in our schools. It is not taught or modelled in any significant way. You don’t need a special course or teacher to do this. It should be done in every academic subject by every teacher!

Yes, what I have captured is a snapshot. But any teacher who takes advantage of social media experiences this every day, perhaps several times a day. Put all these snapshots together and you see the bigger picture.

We need to teach our learners how to peel onions (or Onions) apart, layer by layer, to figure out if they are edible (have any worth). The process won’t be pleasant, but they must do this because they already live, study and work in the digital world.

I am in a committee that is redesigning the ICT course for teacher trainees here in NIE.

I dislike the word “committee” as it has a heavy administrative tone to it. I’d rather we be known as a group of concerned, informed, adaptable, and experienced group of teacher educators. Is that too much to ask? I guess “ICT curriculum committee” is just shorter.

What’s going to change? The title of the course for one, from “ICT for Engaged Learning” to “ICT for Meaningful Learning.” A single word change that I was not made aware of until just last week because adminstrators did it without my knowledge. But I have no objections because my blog posts are littered with exhortations to integrate technology so that learning is meaningful and powerful.

The assignments will change. Sort of. The group will have to toe some lines, but I hope that we will be able to design more meaningful assignments, and in the process, model the meaningful aspect ourselves!

I am taking the lead in the first of two assignments. It still has to be individually submitted and now has to reflect two key themes in the new course: self-directed learning and collaborative learning. I want to build in something that we have barely dealt with in the course and that is cyberwellness. (Who else better than the Learning Sciences and Technologies group to deal with this topic?)

As much as we tout the affordances of technology, it is not without its dark side. Granted, the technology itself is not evil and it is people that determine how it is used. ICT is a sociotechnical system and we must educate all new teachers on this aspect. They must know what to do when confronted with issues like cyberbullying, bad netiquette, undesirable Web elements, etc.

But not everyone agrees with me. So my battle begins…

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