Archive for April, 2014

Privacy visual note drawn on iPad by Nicki Hambleton

Privacy visual note drawn on iPad by Nicki Hambleton

I am British. I believe in good manners, politeness and respect for one another. As a Brit, it bothers me when people do not ask others permission to borrow or use something, or they do not think before they speak. This way of behaving is how I believe and hope that most decent people behave, so it amazes me that as soon as they are online all thoughts of manners go out of the window. Posting comments one would never say to their face, posting an image that doesn’t belong to them without asking permission from the owner and so on. So what should we be private with?

Who knows what about you?

A new initiative in the UK is proposing the use of data science to track parking, refuse collection and street lighting. This urban tracking in some households has create uproar and as an invasion of privacy. However the reasoning behind the tracking makes sense as work of a similar nature in Barcelona has shown. Sensors on refuse bins transmit how full they are and determine whether collection is needed and street lighting is monitored depending on the moon phase thus creating a “smarter city”. (Smart Cities: are you willing to trade privacy for efficiency? The Guardian April 4 2014)

Photo Credit: arcketipo via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: arcketipo via Compfight cc

Whilst improving efficiency of tax payers money is clearly an effective use of data collection, many people may not be happy for this to extend to their personal online data.

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc

Noddle, is a UK based credit agency (which only works within the UK or alternatively with a VPN). Just the other day, my husband logged onto the website to check for our credit rating as we had been out of the UK for 9 years and he thought it would be interesting to see how we are rated. Surprisingly he found not only our rating but information on our Mortgage payments for the last 5 years. It knew everything financially about us. Who has told them this? The bank? Without our knowledge – or was it? Had we checked the small print, the terms and conditions all those years ago?

What’s in the small print?

Apparently the biggest lie we frequently say is “I have read the terms and conditions”. Often they are cumbersomely long and complex so we trust the companies and click “Yes” or I agree” without really reading the small print and the details outlined.

According to Techcrunch: “a new project called TOS;DR wants to change that. The site aims to give more power to users by summarizing terms of service, flagging potential issues and rating apps on a scale from A (the best) to E (the worst). So far the only company with an E, the worst possible rating, is TwitPic, which reserves the rights to sell users’ photos to news agency without giving the photographer a cut.” (Tech Crunch- Putting an end to the biggest lie on the internet, 13/08/2012)

Who is tracking you?

Delving deeper into privacy, I wonder what and who is able to track me online, where and why. It is not necessarily something I had thought of before now and it worries me that this action is not as transparent or at least easily known as it should be. According to their description, Disconnect “lets you visualize and block the invisible sites that track your search and browsing history.”

Brian Kennish, an ex-Google and its founder says “The vast majority of users don’t even know that this stuff is going on, and certainly don’t know how their data is being used,” Kennish said, adding that he believes the best person to solve this problem would be someone who helped create it — someone like himself. “In a way, I feel like these tools had to come from an insider.” (Mashable: Let’s you control your data online. 17 April 2013)

Privacy is dead, long live Privacy

AVG brought out Privacy Fix  some time ago as discussed on Lifehacker in October 2012, and now Crowdcontrol for Facebook focuses attention on who sees users’ default posts. During the talk Privacy is Dead , “71% of people feel that “privacy is dead”. In today’s world of tracking, surveillance and digital footprints, it’s easy to understand why people may feel this way.” (AVG blog, March 10, 2014)

With the plethora of information, apps and guidance on Privacy online we really have no excuse for not being informed and vigilant.  According to Ann Mack,

“The issue is not whether online privacy is dead but rather how to enable people to control the digital information stream connected to their personal lives as needs and relationships evolve over time.”

Creative Commons

I have been aware and an advocate of sharing work appropriately for some time, having learnt from the Queen of sharing, Keri-Lee Beasley. She explains Creative Commons clearly on her blog, Tip of the Iceberg and says:

“I believe in the value of sharing. In education, sharing is crucially important. By using Creative Commons content, and licensing our content as Creative Commons, we show our students that we are willing to assist others, share what we create, and acknowledge the input of others.”

Learning from the guru, I have always tried to encourage students to produce and use their own content first, but when this is not possible to use Creative Commons images through Compfight or similar. But I am only one teacher with a few MS Art classes. Frequently I see posters for a production or students’ articles or homework with no reference to the source, let alone acknowledging the original creator. With so much shared and re-shared online it is often difficult and time consuming to find the original post or creator of the image. Students do not see the issue until you throw it back at them: “How would you feel if your work was reused and re-shared with no thanks to you?”

We owe it to our students, the future generation of bloggers, Twitterers and Facebook sharers to teach them well and help them in turn to be in control of their content online.

The Privacy Talk is the new Sex talk
Photo Credit: GSCSNJ via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: GSCSNJ via Compfight cc

It seems today that the “talk” parents need to have with their children is now not about sex it is about privacy, and much earlier than any other heart-to-heart discussions. Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen discuss this change in necessary parenting on and about the permanence of data online. Most youngsters do not see the potential damage their comments and image posts can do and the sensitivity of what they write might have on their future. It is our duty as educators and parents to talk to our students and children about the issues they are faced with and the decisions they must make when operating online. It seems to me to be the same old message just reframed for today’s society.


I am all for transparency as I mentioned at the end of my last post referring to The Circle but everyone deserves the right to have a social life, online or other. Professors at University or potential employers should not judge someone by their online photographs having a good time, a drink or at a party.
Now I do not condone posting photos doing dangerous or illegal things online, not at all, such as the cinnamon craze, humiliation, aggression or graffiti but I think every law abiding citizen is allowed to go out to a bar or a party and have fun. I was surprised to read in The Telegraph how dons at Oxford University had accessed students’ Facebook accounts to snoop on their photographs of after-exam celebrations. Wrong-doers were summoned and fined accordingly. I do believe anyone who has committed a crime should be punished according to the law but by appropriate methods, CCTV cameras or by witnesses but I feel judging someone by their potentially harmless revelling images online may well be where the line has been crossed.
I intend to share some of these wisdoms with my students and with my own kids to check they understand the pitfalls of posting online, privacy and what the small print says.

As a simple beginners guide, The Guardian advises us on 8 ways to protect your privacy online: Use a password manager, disable GPS and WiFi when not in use, read access privileges, guard your date of birth and phone number, make yourself difficult to find on social media, keep work and personal presences separate, encrypt your connections and work collaboratively for action on privacy. (The Guardian: 8 ways to protect your privacy online, December 3, 2013)

Photo Credit: Yuri Yu. Samoilov via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Yuri Yu. Samoilov via Compfight cc

What do we know about data protection? How do we find out what information is held about us?

What advice would you give to your students, what examples might help them to see the repercussions of their online activity? Do you have a simple step by step guideline or Infographic to help them?

In a world not that different to George Orwell’s 1984 it may not be Big Brother watching you but a whole load of other eyes!

Further reading on wired: Privacy is Dead and Internet Privacy and Security a shared responsibility

Digital Footprint and profile visual note by Nicki Hambleton

Digital Footprint and profile visual note by Nicki Hambleton

Digital Footprints and profiles

As I delve straight into Course 2,  I make a start by reading about  Digital Citizenship and the PSE programme on our school website. Every year in Middle School as the students begin their Life Skills classes they discuss the need to use technology appropriately and how to do this. As a 1:1 laptop school students learn about this early in the preparation for Middle School and their life with a laptop, and it is here that good lessons are learned and habits formed. Without this guidance would students know about their digital footprint, about cyber safety and the pitfalls of posting online?

photo with kind permission from Keri-Lee Beasley

photo with kind permission from Keri-Lee Beasley

Every year we find students as young as 9 years old who have Facebook accounts, despite the minimum age of 13 on the declaration. Robyn Trevaud urges parents to close down these accounts and open a family page and start the valuable discussions on digital safety and the reasons for waiting. As our school year draws nearer to a close, a focus group has been investigating appropriate platforms to work with and Teamie is our one of choices. In the new academic year most classes will be able to work on this safe, yet social network, looking not unlike a Facebook site, as a learning platform to connect and contribute alongside teachers and their peers.

UWCSEA uses the Generation Safe tools to guide and advise teachers and students as they enter more deeply into the online world. Robyn Treyvaud, an expert on cyber bullying and an online safety instructor, works closely with us advising our school. Robyn is the Director of Global Initiatives for and she talks about the pluses and minuses of students’ online activity. Tyler Joseph represents her sentiments at the What’s Your Story contest:

The 6 pillars of Digital Citizenship and Wellness at the centre of ikeepsafe’s philosophy stem from extensive research at Rochester Institute of Technology on Internet use. There is a Facebook page with an online quiz and a mobile app to connect with and help parents and families to guide and protect their children.

The BEaPRO™ acronym addresses what research and leading experts have identified as the known— rather than perceived— online risks for K-12 youth. Developed by iKeepSafe in 2012, the BEaPRO™ acronym represents the six pillars of success for online digital citizenship” (BEaPRO on

6 Pillars of DIgital Citizenship and Wellness


You can read the full Parent Safety Index report here.

Photo Credit: Stephan Geyer via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Stephan Geyer via Compfight cc

According to Mike Ribble on his website Digital Citizenship, using Technology Appropriately, following his dissertation on Digital Citizenship, there are 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship and it is through the concept of REPs (Respect, Educate and Protect) that these 9 themes can be discussed and taught. Mike says:

Each area encompasses three topics which should be taught beginning at the kindergarten level.  When teaching these ideas the top theme from each group would be taught as one REP.  For example the first REP would be: Etiquette, Communication and Rights/Responsibilities.  This would continue through REPs two and three.  By doing this all students will have covered the topics and everyone would understand the basic ideas of digital citizenship.”

Are people are more likely to say something online than they would face to face?

Think before you post

My digital footprint

By googling my name, I find that I feature low down the list as the search thinks I am Nicky-Hambleton Jones, the makeover queen and that I have spelt the search name wrong! Now flattered as I am that I should be mistaken for the blonde, slim guru of girly TV, it is only when adding @itsallaboutart that I show up on the first page.

Searching for Nicki Hambleton on Google

Searching for Nicki Hambleton on Google

I was much older than my students are now when Facebook launched in 2004 and then Twitter in 2006 and it is as educators that we owe it to our students to advise and guide them through our experience; in how to behave online as we would advise them on behaviour in the classroom and in the playground. The internet is their playground and students have to see the permanence of their actions, whether posting an image or adding a comment. So many examples have been highlighted of individuals commenting on Twitter or Facebook and finding that their words have come back to bite them. Yet with this comes the fear that we as a generation are losing our right to freedom of speech as Tom Whitehead of the Telegraph writes:

Figures released in December (2012) revealed crimes involving Facebook and Twitter have increased by 780 per cent in the last four years, with around 650 people charged in 2012 for offences on social media sites. Offences ranged from harassment, to stalking and grooming, as well as racial abuse, according to figures compiled by police forces.” and went on to write, “Ruling on appeal that the no one would have seen the tweet as a genuine threat, Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, went on to say: “The judges added: “We should perhaps add that for those who have the inclination to use Twitter for the purpose, Shakespeare can be quoted unbowdlerised, and with Edgar, at the end of King Lear, they are free to speak not what they ought to say, but what they feel.”

(Too many Twitter prosecutions could damage free speech, The Telegraph, April 2, 2014)

See yourself as others see you

So how do you appear to others?

What is the effect of years on the Internet to your reputation, impression or online profile?

If you read The Circle by Dave Eggers you might take heed to transparency.

As Ellen Ullman reviews in the NY Times:

“The company demands transparency in all things; two of its many slogans are SECRETS ARE LIES and PRIVACY IS THEFT. Anonymity is banished; everyone’s past is revealed; every­one’s present may be broadcast live in video and sound. Nothing recorded will ever be erased.”

Would people act and speak differently, behave better and more respectfully and would there be less crime if they knew they would be accountable as their actions were visible to all?

(Ring of Fire, New York Times, November 1, 2013)

Now there’s a debate just waiting to happen…….