“Think before you click” - Digitally-savvy is the New Street-smart

By Liliana ‘Beatriz’ Arnillas

Education Technology is the single most important condition to support learner-centered education (LCE). A few years into 1:1 implementations across the country, our conversations have shifted towards student data privacy, security, internet safety and digital literacy.  In addition to filtering, blocking, and signing protective agreements, districts are faced with the need to develop thoughtful campaigns to educate users.

Teachers and students use a large number of open source digital resources. In addition to assessing their effectiveness, we need to analyze license agreements and verify their implementation to ensure the protection of our students and their data.  But how do we do this without adding yet one more thing in the large list of teacher responsibilities?

  1. The PSS Rubric - Two years ago, we started working with Common Sense Media and a number of large urban schools to develop a “privacy, security and safety rubric”.  This rubric is published in our site: http://houstonisd.org/dataprivacy .
  2. Apps Scores - We are using the rubric to evaluate free educational web tools/apps commonly used in our district, providing one score each for data privacy, data security and internet safety.
  3. Recommendations for Use - We developed a webpage with the ratings, so teachers can quickly check how to use the tools safely.  In http://houstonisd.org/webapps roll-over each icon, to see a Recommendations for Use score card. The card also indicates whether the tool is PG13 and /or parental consent is required.  New digital tools are created every day, old ones get bought and sold, and licenses are modified, so this is an iterative process.
  4. Common Sense Media’s Privacy Evaluation Initiative – Go to http://graphite.org/privacy to learn how you can get involved with Common Sense Media’s initiative

Legislation is necessary, but too much legislation could suppress initiative and creativity, the cornerstones of learner-centered education (LCE).  LCE promotes student voice and choice, project-based, authentic, active and reflective learning. In practice, students should have options about how to learn and produce and be able to consider the outcomes of their actions. For these reasons, our students must be smart users, capable of discerning how web and mobile tools can have positive and negative impacts upon their privacy and safety, their lives, future careers and their communities. For these reasons, we must prepare our students for digital life beyond the classroom. We have a Student Data Privacy and Security, and Internet Safety Campaign, and we are sharing it with you here:

  1. Teacher Tutorials - We have developed an online tutorial, divided in 6 discrete modules, each of the modules takes between 20 to 40 minutes can be taken independently. In Houston, the first two are facilitated by an instructor.  There is an “exit activity” which teachers can use to obtain proof of education units. We are licensing these tutorials under the Creative Commons, so other districts will be able to use them too.
  2. Safety Moments - Our students need to learn to be tech-smart. With the support of the Future of Privacy Forum, we have written simple scripts that can be used to produce 2 min. Data Privacy, Security and Internet Safety Moments (PSS Moments).  We are sending these scripts to teachers in our schools. Students pick one topic to produce a 1 – 2 min. animated infomercial, which the schools can air in the internal networks. Student don’t include full names, nor faces, so the school can choose to post these on YouTube and promote them via Twitter or other social media. Our hope is to promote the creation of “PSS Moments” until they go viral.

This is Beatriz, Director, IT - Education Technology from Houston ISD, reminding you to “Think before you Click”.