Monday, March 02, 2009

Big Brother in Class

Reader Ann on Big Brother in the Classroom:

I also use a big brother program-that is what I call it in class. I was so excited when I got it that I had a lot of fun taking over student's computers and sending them funny notes. Now it is a big joke in class. I made it clear to everyone that I could see what they were doing and keep track of it, and this became part of the larger conversation about the internet and privacy. I have many students that use myspace and youtube and don't think about what material they are putting out there to the public, so it becomes very valuable to discuss the idea of "time and place".

My students use email to turn in work and access their google accounts, so they are on it. That is okay with me. I feel the same way about cell phones--I am not going to put the effort into banning them because I know it is futile, and that doesn't help students navigate the rest of the world. So I focus on etiquette and responsibility. I don't want to police my students, I want them to think about what they are doing and make wise choices. So far, so good. I have more problems of kids shopping for shoes during class then inappropriate emails.

This really does turn into a life-lesson about privacy on the net. In myriad ways, everything we do -- particularly with Web 2.0 apps -- becomes an issue of privacy. In a way, though, I think the Internet may be forcing us into a broader analysis of just what 'privacy' means; and I think -- in the sense that this conversation can direct the future of Internet culture -- that this is good for culture in general.

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