Sunday, March 22, 2009

Privacy a Right or Responsibility?

So I am posed with this question:

Is privacy a right or a responsibility?

In the west we strive to build our own little kingdoms, we erect our fences, install our security systems, ensure we deadlock our door's and essentially make our lives more private, protected and disconnected than any oth
er period in history. Yet isn't it ironic that in these same houses we connect straight into a network more public than any environment we have encountered in the physical realm, a network which can multiply our information faster than a virus, potentially sharing it with an audience we may never have intended.

What fence do we build around the information we share in our networked community? How do we padlock our digital identity? What security system do we entrust to ensure that more sinister net users can't steal our virtual embodiment? The reality is that most of us on facebook don't think twice about clicking 'accept' to invitations from 'friends' that we don't really know as traditional friends in the true sense of the word, the majority of online users often trust the website and never read the screeds of terms and conditions when signing up online, we click the little box which says 'I agree to these terms and conditions'. But what are we agreeing to, who are we connecting with, and perhaps more importantly who is watching us?

The problem we have is a breakdown from reality to virtuality. In reality we accept that privacy is actually a personal responsibility, which leads to a right. We don't open our homes, our worlds and our personal matters up to the world, yet online people feel compelled to... why?


When we spend so much time online we lose reality of the potential audience we can reach through our online activity, and are oblivious to the potential surveillance over us. We forget we are essentially creating a digital passport which we will carry for life, one which can reveal all sorts of information about us.

Both articles we had to read this week, the first by Samantha MacConnell,
'Don't overestimate privacy of online information' and Beware: the Internet could own your future by Husna Najand, raised some interesting points about privacy. Najand's article concerned me the most as it highlighted the abuse of power that capitalist corporations such as Facebook have over people. The ability for them to change their terms of service contract to a stance which saw them ultimately owning all the information of their users online is a grave concern for some, and a major abuse of power. For many users this may not be much of a concern as MacConnell points out, 'Of course, if you do not have photographs or information posted that could be incriminating, there probably is no need to worry.' But the following short clip from The Wall shows why we all need to have some concern...

Are you taking the responsibility to protect your privacy?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How's your footprint?

So we have started our second course in our Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy course and our first focus is on digital footprints.

Our reading has taken us to an article, 'Protect Your Digital Footprint' by Fields Moseley, who appears to offer very little innovative thought other than... be careful your digital footprint may catch up with you when it comes to job interviews. A second reading, 'Your online reputation can hurt your job search' also failed to stimulate my brain much, although it did offer some good solutions to ensuring your online character is upheld in a positive light... basically remove the negative and promote the positive.

So in need of something a little more 'meaty' I searched around and found a few interesting read's. One of the major issues with our digital footprint is that it is not a footprint in the sand or mud, it is more like a wet-paint footprint... the key here is that the paint never dries, it is open to being reformed, redistributed and reconstituted. I was watching a great movie last night called doubt, in it the Catholic priest preaches about rumors. He gave the analogy of a rumor being like a feather pillow split open on a roof top, the feathers spread everywhere become almost impossible to pick up. In a similar way once we post or do something on the internet the 'wind' picks it up into the cloud, where it is almost impossible to retrieve. Scared?

A good read about some of the legal issues surrounding internet use can be found at Internet Attorney, a site focusing around legal issues on the internet, with specific regard to American citizens. Basically we need to be aware that the internet has no internal law, it is governed by the local governments from which the user accesses the site, therefore there are serious issues about what is acceptable and what is not as their is no norm. It was also interesting reading the Wikipedia article on internet privacy, to find out that the E.U. has passed a law that allows police throughout the E.U. remote access to anyone's personal computer without a search warrant! This raises serious issues about personal privacy and state control. Although it seemed a little out-dated the Australian 'Office of the Privacy Commissioner' has some good explanations on why you need to be careful online, and the different ways in which people obtain data on your activity, which all construct our digital footprint.

So what really is the issue here?

If we are 'doing stuff' and 'posting stuff' on the net that is not acceptable and this is coming back to bite us shouldn't we have thought first about what we were doing? The real issue is that most users are not aware of the visibility of what we are doing, in my mind this is the key issue...

Increased connection = Increased visibility.

If we want to be connected, we have to accept our actions can be seen by a wider range of people, this is reality. With any job position or career that is highly visible, people learn this quick. However, with a private computer hidden in a room in your house we are fooled into thinking we are not visible.

So what does this have to do with schools?

We ask our students to go online, we ask them to blog, we ask them to create in collaborative spaces, but are we ensuring they understand they are creating their own digital footprint throughout this process? Could these processes potentially harm their identity on the net? Are we putting them at risk with displaying their work to the world?

There is no doubt in my mind that if we expect students to participate online that we must teach them how to do this safely. It has to start with the schools 'Acceptable Use Policy', which must not just be a policy that protects the school, but protects the student. By focusing on protecting the student it will most likely meet the goal of protecting the school. It is our responsibility as educators to guide students in creating positive digital footprints and enlightening them of their visibility online. If we fail to do so we fail to protect the child, which is yet another role for the school to absorb!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Technology in PE... Worth it?

So why integrate Technology into PE?

It is quite fascinating looking back to what people wrote over ten years ago about the possibilities of technology in Physical Education (See McLean, D. 1996, 'Use of Computer-based Technology in Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance'). Specialised software, multimedia enhancement, computer assisted instruction and use of the web were some of the major suggestions made by McLean. But the big question still remains: Have we really moved much beyond the these suggestions? Are we changing our profession and modernising the way we teach Physical Education? Has Physical Education entered the 21st Century?

Before we answer that question we have to ask why change? Why actually go to all the trouble to integrate technology into our lessons? Is there any research out there that suggests it is a good thing to integrate? There sure is a heck of a lot of resistance supported by a view that technology takes away practical time. Possibly it does. But I would argue that although we may lose practical time we maximise 'learning time', increasing the chance that our learners will become 'life long learners', motivated to gain in knowledge, understanding and application about what this actually means in a 'Physically Educated' sense.

Research isn't that easy to find and most web-sites offer limited scope on how one can integrate technology into PE. The most current trend being implemented is that of pedometers and HR monitors into PE (e.g PELINKS4U), primarily to assist in measuring effort (the whole concept of an effort grade is one that still bothers me... do we give an effort grade in academic subjects?). When used appropriately I have seen HR monitors and Pedometers improve participation and in some cases where there has been sufficient teaching, it has also lead to a greater understanding amongst the students of what is occurring during exercise in their bodies. But take caution! Research from
McCaughtry, N., Oliver, K.L., Dillon, S.R., & Martin, J.J. (2008). (Teachers' perspectives on the use of pedometers as instructional technology in physical education: A cautionary tale), highlighted that the use of pedometers does not necessarily mean better learning in our classrooms, nor does it motivate all students to participate better.

But what about other technologies? Are we utilising digital video footage? Web 2.0 learning opportunities? Online feeds such as You Tube (have a look at the endless sporting videos online). What about software like the fitnessgram, Polar's PE Manager, are these promoting better learning? PDA's are useful in recording assessments, but are these enhancing learning? Are they giving the teacher more time to provide meaningful feedback within the class?

I think we have to test technology integration with three critical questions....
  1. Does this integration of technology increase the participation of the student in physical activity in and/or out of the classroom?
  2. Are students LEARNING better about being a physically educated person as a direct result from implementing this technology?
  3. Does this technology remove barriers to participation?
I think when we can honestly look at our technology integrations and say yes to each of these questions then we are doing the right thing, if not we need to seriously question what we are doing.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Panther Run Series...

So I have been geeking out... I have played with google docs and saved myself a huge amount of time in the long run... how?

By using Google Doc's I have created a registration form for our upcoming Panther Run Series, check it out below, and if you are not doing anything on the dates below come and join us and run in the panther run series!