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Archive for the ‘Cybersafety’ Category

It’s hard to believe, but text messaging reached a milestone last week!

25 years ago – December 3rd 1992 to be exact – the first text message was sent by Engineer Neil Papworth when he wrote “Merry Christmas” on a computer and sent it to Richard Jarvis, the then director of Vodaphone.  It was an event which changed technology forever and along with it, set in motion a colossal shift in social norms.

While it’s debatable whether SMS today is being overtaken by social media platforms, the impact of texting on our lives has been profound.   Twenty five years is a very long time!  A generation of young people know no other way to communicate, a fact which raises a whole range of issues including whether or not the art of interacting face to face is being lost.  Have a listen to this discussion to gain a greater understanding:

I’ve been in teaching long enough to remember the days when fears for students’ ability to spell beyond texting shorthand was a serious concern.

Educational concerns however are constantly evolving.  As reflected in a presentation by New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman at a conference earlier this year and repeated regularly since, he advocates the need to teach all children how to talk to each other on the internet and how to understand fact from fiction:

Believing in the importance of starting to educate children from a young age, the DQ Institute has developed a 15 hour free online curriculum aiming to teach digital citizenship covering a range of key skills:

Underlining the importance of school students learning digital civics, Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) will, from next year, assess ‘global competencies’:

From next year PISA will test not only maths, science and reading skills, but “global competencies”, which its education head, Andreas Schleicher, described as young people’s attitudes to global issues and different cultures, analytical and critical skills and abilities to interact with others. The first results will report in 2019.  (“Don’t teach your kids coding, teach them how to live online” The Sydney Morning Herald, March 25 2017)

How appropriate it would be to see teacher librarians take the lead to ensure the introduction of digital civics lessons during library sessions!

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For years, teacher librarians have been teaching students not just how to run online searches but how important it is to authenticate information found.

But over the last 12-18 months with the preponderance of ‘fake news’ popping up not just on the internet but in usually reliable print publications such as newspapers and journals, the impact ‘fake news’ has had on our world has been the subject of much discussion around the globe.

So it is refreshing to see that the conversation has now started to shift from how dangerous fake news is to how to spot and combat fake news.

Perhaps under threat from mega million law suits, Facebook has been one of the first to take a lead by informing users of some basic tips on how to spot false news.

For a few brief days in mid April this year, Facebook users in just 14 countries got to see this alert:

from where they could read through the following concise and useful tips on how to spot false news:

Why only 14 countries were included in this roll out and why the alert was only live for a few days is a complete mystery.  Given the value this kind of shared information can have in the fight against the spread of misleading and false information, one can only hope that Facebook was testing the ground and will come back to making this a permanent alert available to global Facebook users.

As reported by engadget recently, Google also is attempting to stamp out the spread of fake news by inserting a ‘Fact check by’ tag on searches on contentious issues.

Another interesting development this week is the announcement by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

WikiTRIBUNE is being developed as a new kind of news platform.  By calling on the community to work hand-in-hand with journalists, the aim is to verify and edit facts before they appear online.  Using crowdfunding to hire 14 journalists, it is intended that WikiTRIBUNE, like Wikipedia, will be free to access.

WikiTRIBUNE is set to differ from other news outlets in four specific ways:

  • the news source will be clearly stated
  • access to WikiTRIBUNE will be free and ad free
  • contributors from both the community and journalists will be equals
  • to achieve full transparency donors will be informed where money goes

Read more about the purpose and nature of WikiTRIBUNE in this excellent engadget article Wikipedia co-founder launches Wikitribune to fight fake news or listen to Jimmy Wales himself as he invites the world to come on board.

 

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Reading an article recently about a program which aims to combat racism, discrimination and cyberbullying,  I jumped online to check it out.

Developed by the Anti-Defamation Commission, Click Against Hate (CAH) is a relatively recent addition to the many programs already operating in our schools which aim to tackle, head on, frightening statistics such as those highlighted in one ABC News report:

From YouTube vid - Click against hate

Through interactive, hands on sessions, facilitators of the program encourage students to assertively stand up to all forms of bullying, hate and discrimination.  Fostering confidence to report all forms of abuse, racism and bullying, students are empowered to be proactive, responsible users of the Internet while learning the mindset of those who perpetrate such hate.

This educational program focuses on the development of an inclusive culture and respectful school climate by addressing issues of bias, bullying and prejudice reduction at its roots and provides the tools to deal with this ugly phenomenon.  The program also focuses on diversity in schools and social cohesion among students.  CAH has been designed as an interactive and innovative program giving students current information that empowers them to deal with these situations showing them what the power of words can do.  (Anti-Defamation Commission)

In addition to the more lengthy video produced and posted on the website of the Anti-Defamation Commission, my online research located two short news broadcasts about the program which are well worth a look.  The first was published August 13, 2015 on ABC News while the second was aired on SBS World News more recently on May 18, 2016.

 

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Hooked on Pokemon?

With more than 30 million players worldwide traveling around catching cartoon characters using phone GPS and cameras, it certainly seems that phenomenal records have been hit.Pokemon

I have to admit though, I did a double take yesterday afternoon when driving down Dandenong Road, a major arterial road here in Melbourne,  to see a road sign hung up over the busy road warning drivers to not play Pokemon while driving!

Photographed by someone at night and uploaded onto the Internet, this is the wording of more than 40 signs that popped up mid-way through last week on our roads.

News reports tell the story!

Hard on the heels of news reports are all kinds of warnings, such as this one from the

I’ve also spotted stranger danger videos posted on Facebook warning of the dangers of following others in the trail of playing Pokemon.

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Common Sense MediaI recently came across the Common Sense Media website and discovered all kinds of valuable info which can easily be slotted into lessons or displayed in a library on a loop to promote cyber awareness.

While there’s a wealth of valuable information to explore on this site, these two short and sharp videos speak volumes.  There quick and colourful format will ensure that their message is absorbed by young students.

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Soon after its publication, I read ‘A letter to our customers’ written by Apple CEO Tim Cook.  Since then, a flood of articles, posts and discussions have followed.  Why should any of us be interested?

Quite simply, the implications are far reaching and scary.

Triggered by the FBI’s need to access the content of the iPhone of one of the key San Bernardino killers, a fight has erupted between Apple and the FBI.  A court order activating a law written in 1789 is poised to force Apple to assist it’s investigations.

For most of us, we have, in a reasonably short time, become complacent about the enormous wealth of data innocuously stored on our smartphones.   Tim Cook reminds us

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going.

If you’ve ever misplaced your smartphone or worse lost it, you’ll be very familiar with the overwhelming physical and emotional anguish which engulfs and grips you. Even though most of us don’t understand how, we know that our data is protected and safe.  Data is encrypted.

The right to privacy, the encryption of data on our smartphones is the root of Apple’s concern and is the reason for going public with this open letter.

In short, the US Government is demanding that Apple create a backdoor to the iPhone by creating a new version of the iPhone operating system that circumvents several important security features.

This demand began with the FBI approaching Apple to help them access data on the iPhone of San Bernardino killer Syed Farook.  Apple, for reasons outlined in this open letter, have refused to cooperate.  The FBI has now pursued court proceedings to force Apple to help them with their ongoing investigation of Farook’s involvement.  The Apple CEO is refusing to comply.

Cook’s fear is basic:

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again (to open) any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.”

Cook has exposed the demands being placed on Apple for the simple reason that he believes that an open discussion needs to be held.  The issues are complex.  A simple explanation can be found on this post: Apple vs the FBI – a plain English guide.

Scroll to the end of an op ed written by John McAfee, a member of the Libertarian Party, who is running in the US Presidency campaign, to see a short excellent video which captures the argument very succinctly.

FBI vs Apple

This sounds like a David and Goliath kind of battle, one which reminds me of the fight against Internet censorship which was famously waged by Aaron Swartz in 2012.  Swartz, who sadly lost his life during this ongoing battle, was a brilliant contributor to our world.

So ….. are we now staring down the barrel of a government ‘gun’ forcing its demands upon a company to comply on the premise that this will be in the best interests of the people?

Your thoughts?

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Being mindful of what we post on Facebook goes without saying.

Aunty Acid - Think before you post

Being familiar with the ins and outs of using Facebook and its various settings is, however, something that many of us know little about.

So when I logged into Facebook the other day, I was blown away to see an invitation to better learn how to use Facebook.   The teacher in me shot to attention as I quickly started paging through the simple, clear statements listed in this presentation and realized that this would make a great learning tool that could be used in the classroom or in our library sessions.

You're in charge

It’s an awesome presentation and reminds me that for all of us our learning journey is indeed never ending!

And with this discovery, another year draws to an end.  Desks have been cleared, bags laden with books to read have been packed and we head out the door at this end of the world for our summer break in which we aim to pause, reflect and re-charge our batteries before the start of the next busy year.

Warm greetings to you all for a safe, happy and rest filled break.

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