Scratch, Micro:bit, and Dig Cit: A Closer Look at Terms of Service & Privacy Policies

“I agree to the Terms and Conditions” – Yeah yeah…

“I agree to the Privacy Policy” – Ahh, they are watching us anyway…

As a major user of the internet for the past 20 years, I can’t imagine how many times I’ve agreed to terms and conditions and privacy policies for a variety of websites, apps, or tools. In terms of using technology for my personal life, whether it be for Facebook, Snapchat, or WordPress, I’ll admit that I’ve never read more than a single line of these long-winded pages. I honestly don’t have a good reason as to why I skip the reading and simply click the box. After a quick reflection, I came up with these very simple reasons as to why I don’t these policies. Here are a few reasons:

  • They are way too long. Who has the time or patience to read all of this information?
  • The legal language is confusing. To the average consumer, this legal jargon is confusing and takes some serious concentration to actually comprehend. You might want to consider hiring a lawyer to explain this to you in lame man’s terms.
  • To be honest, I don’t even think about clicking the box. I’ve been so accustomed to these policy messages, I just bypass them so I can quickly create my account.

I’m aware that those are simply lazy and bad habits when using the internet. It took a major project in #eci832 to finally get me exploring and thinking about the implications of these policies. Going forward, I think my slightly increased awareness about terms of service and privacy might cause me to stop and think for a second before clicking the box.

When using programs and resources for educational purposes, I can honestly say that I only look for one thing. “How old do they have to be to use this program?” If they are old enough, I continue on my way and use this program in the classroom. When they are not old enough, I log on to my school division website and look to see if there is a permission form for that particular program. This is problematic, as I truly don’t know what these companies are doing with student data and information. As an educator, it is my responsibility to ensure that I am keeping my student’s information and privacy safe in the digital world. When thinking about Mike Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship, there is great opportunity to teach students a few of the elements as they are signing up for programs. These include:

  • Digital Law: Are there any legal implications when using this website? What laws exist in our country when using the internet? Are my actions online exempt from the law?
  • Digital Security and Privacy: What happens to my information when I sign up using my full name, age, address, and gender? Who owns this information? Why is my information valuable to companies or corporations? What can I do to protect my privacy and security?

Now getting on to my major project… It was quite the experience trying to understand the terms of service and privacy policies of two programs commonly used in education. I’ve highlighted some key points and personal thoughts when analyzing the policies on Scratch and Micro:bit.

Scratch:

Terms of Service:

  • Scratch is open to children and adults of all ages. This is beneficial for teachers as they don’t need to worry about additional permissions. Also, I find that many programs or applications require students to be 13 years of age, which can make finding valuable educational technology challenging at times.
  • The Scratch team may change the terms of service from time to time. I believe this is quite common in most terms of service agreements, as they control all aspects of the program. This is important to understand as things can change without you even knowing it.
  • “All user-generated content you submit to Scratch is licensed to and through Scratch under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license. This allows the Scratch team to display, distribute, and reproduce your content through their channels.” Once you create on Scratch, it essentially becomes available for anyone in the world to share or use. If students create personal content, such as uploading a picture of themselves to the Scratch software, this is freely available to anyone in the world with access to Scratch.
  • In order to save or publish your content on Scratch, you need to create an account. As most projects will take an extended period of time, students will need to create an account to save their work. At this point, students need to be aware of the information they are sharing when creating an account.

Privacy Policy:

  • During account creation, Scratch will ask for a username, country, birth month, year, gender, and email address. If you are under 16, they ask for your parent or guardians’ email address. Through this process, Scratch will be able to gather quite a bit information about students. I can see students using their personal email, even if it states it must be their parents.
  • When you use Scratch, third party service providers collect information about you and your device, through cookies and web server logs. By using Scratch, you consent to the placement of cookies and similar technologies. They information collected includes IP address, network location, what browser you are using, device IDs, and other information. Using specific technologies, Scratch will have the ability to locate where you are in the world. How does a third party service provider use this information to their advantage?
  • Scratch shares personal information to third-party service providers. As age, gender, and other personal information is being gathered, Scratch shares this information with these companies. How do these companies benefit from this information?
  • Data retention: They take measures to delete your personal information or keep it in a form that doesn’t allow you to be identified when this information is no longer necessary for the purposes for which they process it, unless they are required by law to keep it. This area isn’t that clear to me as I’m unsure if they actually ever delete your information. How long does it take Scratch to process it?

Micro:bit

Terms of Service:

  • Your creations on Micro:bit are stored locally. When published on the website, you agree that all of your contributions are available for others to: freely use with attribution on a non-commercial basis, share, copy, and redistribute in any medium. Once your work is published, it’s essentially free for anyone to use. Another reminder for students to understand how their creations can be shared worldwide.
  • You must understand and inform children that posting personal data, sharing contributions that infringes other’s intellectual property rights is a breach of terms of use.
  • Micro:bit can modify, suspend, or discontinue all or part of the service without giving you any notice. Be aware! Make sure you abide by the terms of service.

Privacy Policy:

  • Although anyone can use this resource, it’s been designed for users between 8 and 14 and the educators who use them. This is quite valuable for middle school students, as software can be quite complex for them to understand at times.
  • On Micro:bit’s main site, they enhance the privacy in the following ways:
    • They don’t associate your IP address with any information that can identify you personally. They don’t store personal information such as your name, age, or email address in cookies.
    • They do not use geo-location data from your device but may be able to determine your approximate location from your IP address.

Overall, I learned many things when reading the terms of service and privacy policies on Scratch and Micro:bit. There were definitely times where I had to reread some items 5-10 times, as the legal language made it quite confusing to understand.When I was rereading for the tenth time, I started to think of all the ways this benefits these companies. I think many companies do not want their consumers to read the terms of service and privacy policies, as this could potential hurt their ability to generate profit for their company. If people and students fully understood the privacy implications of signing up for a service, I’m sure there are some users that would choose to not use a service. This leaves me with one final question that can be applied to our personal lives or the lives of our students…

  • What’s the value of your personal data?

Millennial's, Avocados, and the Future of Education…

During last weeks class, I really enjoyed the presentation and discussion that centered around the differences between the generations of people. As a proud millennial, I have encountered and heard many of the ideas associated with my generation. As we discussed the generational differences, there were a few things that came to mind as we were discussing the millennial generation.

  • “Why are millennials still living with their parents?” – Although I don’t live with my parents, I can relate to the financial strain that student loans can put on a young person when trying to get established in their careers. I’m happy to see that Canada’s auditor general is examining whether Canada Student Loans Program is helping students be smarter about their financial decisions. Maybe a greater focus on financial literacy is needed in our schools.
  • Avocado toast is the root of our problems!
$22 avocado toast… No thanks! – Pixabay

As I think about these ideas in the context of public education, I definitely wonder if our educational systems have adapted enough to meet the current needs of our society.

Is it possible to change our educational system, or is it more likely that the system will be replaced by other forms of education?

I truly believe that we can make changes to our educational system to meet the needs of our students. If not, I might be out of a job in a few years… But in reality, we cannot discount the importance of the human element in teaching. As any teacher will tell you, your relationships with your students is the more important aspect of teaching. A human teacher has the ability to do any of the following:

  • Cheer up a young person who is experiencing challenges at home.
  • Recognize social issues among students and find ways to resolve them.
  • Talk a student through difficult situations involving their friends.
  • Provide the necessary adaptations to make them successful in school.

Although some of these things could be achieved through virtual classes, I do believe that human connection is so important in teaching. I think that once we develop the necessary relationships in teaching, we can start to thing of ways to improve the educational system.

In terms of education as a whole, I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic towards the future. I think of my good friend, Matt Bresciani, who has been a leader in the area of flipped learning. He’s proven that flipped math can be beneficial, especially when working with large groups of students. Jenn Stewart-Mitchell, the educational technology coordinator with Regina Catholic Schools, consistently pushes us to find ways to improve our teaching pedagogy, especially when using technology in the classroom. Our very own, Dean Vendramin, seems to be a master in so many different things. Take a quick look at his blog to see some of the amazing things he is doing in his classroom. Victoria Parisien, is working with her students to explore the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and create a resource for other educators to use in their classroom. These are just a few of the people that make me optimistic about the future of education. I think education is changing for the better… even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

I have personally experienced many great things when using alternatives to the traditional methods of teaching. For the last couple of years, I’ve had my students complete Genius Hour projects. Through these projects, students were able to explore and learn about something they were truly passionate about. A few examples of projects include:

  • How to write and compose a song?
  • How to write in Japanese?
  • How to throw a better curve ball in baseball?

It’s truly amazing to see students take control of their learning and explore something they are passionate. Projects such as Genius Hour, are definitely not possible in the traditional model of school. This project is just one small example of changing education for the better.

Do schools really need to change?

I really believe that schools need to change to improve the overall educational experience for our students. If employers truly want 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, and leadership, our provincial curriculum should be updated to represent these needs in the workforce. I find that there is often things added to the curriculum, such as coding or robotics, and nothing has been removed or altered. As an elementary school teacher, it’s almost impossible to cover all of the required Saskatchewan Curriculum outcomes. If we really want our teachers and schools to focus on these needs, we must ensure that the document guiding us represents these ideas.

Overall, this weeks class really got me thinking how I need to continue to improve as a teacher to meet the kids of today. Even though I’m a “Connected Educator” and have a high level of technology integration into my classroom, am I really preparing my students for the future? Am I fostering a culture of critical thinking and challenging the norm? Are students collaborating enough to develop these vital skills for their future? I’m happy this class is challenging me to think about my teaching practice in this way. I look forward to learning more about these topics over the next few months.

Mary Beth Hertz Presentation – January 21

I enjoyed getting the opportunity to listen to Mary Beth Hertz present her ideas and thoughts regarding technology in the classroom. I really connected with some of the activities that she teaches is her “Intro to Tech” class in grade 9. As we only able to hear a small sample of what she has to offer, I think it would be of great value to further explore her ideas and thoughts in the book, Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet.

When Mary Beth was talking about her “Intro to Tech” class, I couldn’t help think about how this would benefit my students in grade 5/6. As I teach in a 1:1 setting, my students are exposed to many different applications and programs throughout the entire school year. They are often required to sign up for many different accounts and programs. Whether it’s Seesaw, Adobe Spark, Newsomatic, or Flipgrid, there are so many benefits to student learning when using these programs. I quickly realized during the presentation that my students are amazing at creating content and demonstrating their learning using technology, but do they really know, “How the internet works?” I can guarantee that most of my students wouldn’t know the purpose of a cookie or how to keep themselves safe when using public wifi.

“Of course I know what a cookie is Mr. Kerr!”

Reflecting on this from a teaching position, it doesn’t surprise me that students have minimal understanding of how the internet actually works. From my experience, we spend the first month of the school year teaching students about proper digital etiquette (A.K.A Digital Citizenship), how to use the resources/tools efficiently, and effective and safe ways for remembering or storing their passwords (“No! Grade 6 isn’t a safe password.”) I feel like I’m in a constant battle with time to ensure that I teach all of the required curriculum outcomes. Now I’m not here to simply make up excuses for why I don’t teach my students about how the internet actually works. After listening to Mary Beth speak the other night, it’s made me realize that it’s actually important to teach our students about this side of the internet. As we teach our young students to stop, drop, and roll or look both ways before crossing the street, maybe it’s time we teach our students to be safe when using technology.

Mary Beth’s discussion around social media and how student feel the need to be visible also resonated with me. For the last few years, I’ve often wondered what effect social media has on our young people’s mental health, particularly those using Instagram. As a major Instagram user myself, it doesn’t take long to see the “perfect bodies” or “amazing lifestyles” that people show on their Instagram accounts. For me, I obviously have the ability to understand the things people can do to make their image or life look amazing. For a young person, I’m not sure they have the innate ability to make the distinction between what is real and what’s been severely modified to look a certain way. There are many young people using Instagram, even those under the age of 13. As I’m responsible for these students, it’s also my responsibility to teach students how to view images and videos with a critical lens.

There were many thought provoking thoughts and ideas in Mary Beth’s presentation about technology. Would I like to see a course like this offered to students as young as grade 5? Yes! Would I like to teach? Yes! I think it would be so valuable for students to develop safe internet skills and habits from a young age. I understand that’s likely not going to happen anytime soon. Realistically, I need to simply remind myself that it’s okay to spend some curricular time teaching young people to be safe and smart online.

Major Project – Coding in the Classroom

After a lengthy process, I have finally decided to focus my major project on coding in the classroom. I believe this project will provide value to me for a few different reasons. For one, I must admit that I have been a little skeptical about coding in the classroom. I haven’t fully “jumped in” and simply dabbled with it here and there. I’m hoping this project will provide me with the tools and skills to effectively implement coding into my classroom. A project of this nature will also allow me to fully explore the benefits and challenges when using coding in your classroom. In addition, there has been a significant amount of focus and resources dedicated to coding and robotics from the Ministry of Education and various school divisions. I will spend some of my time researching and learning more about these plans and initiatives.

Pixabay

As a middle years teacher, I plan to spend most of my time researching and learning about coding in a way that would be valuable for the students that I teach. In saying that, I will dedicate some time to exploring the Robotic and Automation curriculum that is fairly new to Saskatchewan. I think it’s important to have a good understanding of the big picture and where my students will take their learning in future years. I will also dedicate some of my time to learning about how coding can be used in the primary grades. You will find some details about my project below.

Educational apps I will explore:

Personal goals:

  • Develop a deep understanding of free coding programs available to students and teachers
  • Develop and learn coding skills and abilities
  • Discover strong and meaningful connections to Saskatchewan curriculum, particularly middle years curriculum
  • Learn more about the overall benefits that coding provides for students
  • Connect to the experienced teachers and professionals in this area
  • Understand the Ministry’s new Robotics and Automation curriculum

Tasks to achieve my personal goals:

  • Describe and review the applications
  • Review the terms and service for each of the programs
  • Research the privacy implications for teachers and students
  • Experiment and create using the coding applications
  • Review Saskatchewan middle years curriculum to find authenticate ways to implement coding
  • Research the Robotics and Automation curriculum

Overall, I am very excited to get going on my major project. From my understanding, there are many experienced professionals in this class that I might tap to help achieve some of my personal goals. I am still deciding as to what type of resource would be the most valuable for my colleagues who are wanting to use coding in their classroom. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I will keep you updated on my progress through blog posts and Twitter updates.

Hello!

Hey everyone! My name is Trevor Kerr and I teach grade 5/6 at St. Kateri in Regina. I’m a big sports fan and enjoy playing, watching, and coaching at my school. Go Cowboys! I also enjoy travelling during my breaks as a teacher. I’m heading to Florida in February and hoping to make a big trip to Peru next Christmas. I spend my summer break in Clear Lake working at a golf course. It’s a fabulous place to work and the golfing privileges that come with it aren’t too bad either.

I’ve always been very excited and interested in regards to technology in my personal life. I think my excitement started when I was younger playing Pokemon on my Gameboy or Twisted Metal on the original PlayStation. These were always positive experiences that I had with my siblings and friends. As I got older, I became really interested in the iPhone. I still remember the day I stood outside of Rogers early in the morning to ensure that I got the phone on the day it was released. Looking back, I probably didn’t need to stand outside as not a whole lot changed with that new phone. My personal relationship with technology definitely changed as I have gotten older. Nowadays, it’s primarily used to read the news, check my email, or communicate with friends. I am simply a consumer of technology, as I contribute very little to the digital space unless I’m required to for a class or job. I’m hoping that this class motivates me to become better at contributing and creating, as this has been a goal of mine for awhile.

Professionally, technology has played a major role in my development and growth as a teacher. I’ve been part of the “Connected Educator” program with RCSD for three years. This program has enriched my classroom with a 1:1 laptop to student ratio. As this provides many opportunities for learning, there are also many challenges that come with this situation. I’m also part of a visionary leader committee that contributes to the growth and development of the Connected Educator program. I’m hoping this class will give me some great ideas that I can take back and share with my colleagues.

I look forward to the journey and learning ahead in #eci832.