25 June 2010

DIGITAL DOSSIER: Your Life on the Net, Part One

This April, we watched the Digital Natives YouTubes video in class before I assigned a Digital Dossier project to my seniors.  We were approaching the end of the year, zero hour, and I thought I might hide the unit on World Poetry I introduced in APRIL ("you are one wild woman, Ms Healey," Ben told me. Really.) if I added this "fun" project too. What a laugh! The drama, the angst, the panic... I figured after a year with me, the Tech Center could hold no sway over their tender egos. I was wrong.
It appears that only two of my honors seniors had ever even considered their identities on the net--and those two are wannabe hackers (maybe real hackers, but it could just be panache). So the project became more important than the World Poetry Wiki. (scroll to the bottom of the wiki page to click on their individual wiki pages.) So we began with Facebook--how many friends do you have, how many of those friends have you actually met, photo tags, QUALITY of the photos in which are you are tagged, etc. While they were proud of the number of personal photos on Facebook, some admitted that they were not so happy with the prospect of me seeing them. SCORE. And so it went. Discussion, then work, then many questions in many emails at night.
The amount of time that they spend watching (not creeping though, they swear) others is astounding, unless you consider that in high school, what peers think and believe is truly more important for many than what they think themselves. I laid out some parameters for the project--letting them know up front that I was new to this too--and gave them a deadline. We  moved the deadline as needed. I requested that they post their dossiers on our secure school site (Studywiz Spark--another post required later). And when they were completed, discussion began anew.
 Not one student asked what I was going to do with all this personal info on the official school site. Not one. And every single one gave me some info and photos that they could not possibly have wanted me to see. SCORE. What are you doing, people, giving me all your personal info? AND posting on the school site, where any teacher or dean could access it? They did not know that I was not going to scan every photo or read every post, or that I would take it down the minute I reviewed that they had completed the work.  (I know enough to realize that nothing is ever really gone, but really, there was nothing illegal or disgusting, just high school). Your life is yours. Time to start asking questions, people, with respect of course.
First rule in the digital world: no one will protect you unless you protect yourself.
Second rule: think before you post. Consider your audience--there are as many audiences as there are websites.
Third rule: You get to be who you want to be on the Net--maybe even more than one "you." But...make sure YOU decide who you become and don't let it just happen to you.
Another post below: what I learned about my students!

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