Ouch.

That wasn’t even close.

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Photo Credit: Memegenerator

I do appreciate the idea of openness and sharing online, though I do, personally, have so many reservations, both as a teacher and as a person.

The website Seesaw was brought up a few times during the debate. It does seem like a really neat tool to use with students to document their learning.Their commitment to privacy is admirable, however, teachers using any online service must familiarize themselves with both the Terms of Service and the Privacy Policy (though, sometimes these are combined) before selecting the tool they wish to use.

One of Seesaw’s Terms of Use is:

We don’t own the content you provide – students and their schools own all Student Data added to Seesaw.

However, in order to provide our Services, we need certain limited rights to your content. You grant Seesaw the right to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display, and distribute your content solely so that Seesaw can provide our services.  Seesaw may modify or adapt your content as necessary to meet any requirements or limitations of any networks or devices.

Being aware of what you’ve agreed to on the behalf of your students is incredibly important and can be taught as an introductory lesson to the use of the site.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying “do not use!”. I think it looks slick, well-organized, teacher and student friendly, and it looks like it has worked very hard to protect students. They are also very compliant with not only American law, but they work with international law as well in order to protect their users.

However, it is still a company which needs to make a profit and Terms of Use need to be taken very seriously.

Privacy Policies and Terms of Use are full of jargon and can be hard to decipher. Internet to the rescue!

This website can help you along with that.

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One of the greatest mistakes people on the internet make is not reading your Terms of Service. Everyone (including myself: Netflix just had an update this week — didn’t read it. Apple just updated my iOS — didn’t read it. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Gmail all have long, dense Terms of Service — didn’t read them).

(For fun, this website [though this one is a joke, it’s funny in “it’s funny because it’s true sort of way] and this website [though it is Cracked and it is a few years old, so take with a grain of salt] go over some interesting information that was in Terms of Service.)

Students need to learn to make sense of what they’re agreeing to in order to become more cognizant of the information they’re giving away. In order for teachers to teach this, they need to be aware of it as well.

For a worst-case scenario of what I’m talking about, I’ll refer back to a debacle that occurred a couple months ago (again, worst-case scenario): LeapFrog toys were discovered to have a vulnerability that could potentially expose children to all sorts of breaches of privacy.Being aware of technology tools capabilities is important for parents and educators. In this case, children would have been better off using a laptop rather than the supposedly “closed garden” LeapFrog.

To add to this worst-case scenario, now-owner of LeapFrog, Vtech dealt with its own large privacy breach late last year.

Ok. Enough doom and gloom.

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Photo Source: Memegenerator

Student online sharing is no longer becoming a nice addition or an alternative to an essay. Online sharing is becoming more and more important as classrooms become more open to the world.

As the article “The Benefits of Online Student Work in Online Space” discusses, online sharing increases transparency in the classroom. As teachers, we are coming under closer and closer scrutiny of our job and what exactly we do in the classroom besides babysit for 6 hours a day.

Online sharing shows educational stakeholders exactly what students and teachers are capable of, for the good or bad.

The kind of accountability associated with online sharing is unprecedented in teaching, where before the internet, accountability occurred when your principal or superintendent strolled by your room.

Global citizenship (as overused as the phrase has become) means that students have to be prepared to enter a world where communication skills are paramount. Understanding how to navigate the world of LinkedIn, About.me, and online resumes (seriously. look at that last link.) as well as participate within it are important new world skills.

The issue, again, as it has been in the previous debates is buy-in and understanding from teachers.

Teachers are creatures of habit (probably because of the nature of our job). Getting teachers to try new, untested, unfamiliar things with untrustworthy technology is hard.

But this is necessary.

Finally, as an individual, I’m leery of the online world. I participate in as an anonymous way as I can get away with. I’m no Luddite. I love technology. But, I also don’t trust the altruistic nature of online companies. As a teacher, I’m going to have to work on my hermit vs sharer self in order to better serve my students.

TL;DR: Go here. No, seriously. If nothing else, use this.

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14 thoughts on “Ouch.

  1. Great post Kelsie. I am one of those who does not always read the ‘terms’, even though my stomach always feels fluttery when that happens. It’s just that they are always so long – just lazy i guess. I am going to get better at it 🙂 angela

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  2. Interesting consideration with the “terms of service”. I agree that teachers need to be especially concerned with these terms when asking students to participate in the use of social media tools. I have heard that the age guidelines are often linked to where the web service is hosted, and that the laws regarding acceptable ages for different services change according to these local jurisdictions. Has anyone else heard something similar?

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    1. Yep. Totally a thing. Look up the Pirate Bay issue. You’re bound by that jurisdiction’s rules which is why so many are located offshore so to speak.
      Also, if you’re feeling adventurous, look up the Silk Road takedown.

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  3. Well said Kelsie! Thank-you for sharing the terms of service website. My only wonder is if I install the browser add on – what data will that website track;) Haven’t read their terms of service yet. And it’s very true, finding a balance is always an ongoing challenge in sharing.

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  4. Interesting post Kelsie, definitely something I hadn’t really thought about. I think we often use technology to speed up life that, then the terms just slows us down! I see this issue as a good way to integrate some digital citizenship into literacy – reading strategies. How can we teach students to be critical readers of this form of text?

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    1. Wow – I keep forgetting about terms of use or agreement – we as teachers, parents and users really need to look at these in detail. If we are using a resource (such as Seesaw) we need to share these terms with parents. Thanks for the reminder.

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    2. By becoming critical consumers of it ourselves? Some of the most powerful teaching is personal experience.
      Perhaps by teaching common legal terms in English class (it does have curricular ties to ELA 9 and ELA B30) as a way to decipher?

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  5. Great post here. Love the ToS link, definitely giving that a thorough lookthrough. I’m curious, though, lots of these sites are deeply problematic, but are our students tremendously concerned with the rights to their content? I feel like the perceived benefits of being on social media outweigh the perceived risks for the students (and for many adults). It could be argued that social media accounts are, at this point, a non-optional social convention in many circles, so are many of these odd ToS documents simply exercising their own power over a captive audience? I go on facebook, even though I know its ToS is a quagmire and that it’s a relentless data mining machine, because that’s how I know about upcoming events. Will the terrible ToS change that?

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    1. But isn’t that just encouraging complacence? And aren’t there several dystopian novels about the dangers of societal complacency? As well, Facebook’s community of users is huge. So huge, in fact, that if there was something entirely egregious in their ToS, I’m sure there would be a backlash.
      But maybe I’m just an optimist?

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