Maybe our students aren’t so savvy after all

And maybe we aren’t either.

An article in this week’s Chronicle suggests that we’re on shaky grounds if we assume our students know tons about how the Internet works and what that means for their (and our) future.

A couple of faculty  at Northwestern (Eszter Hargittai and Brayden King) teach a course called ‘Managing your Online Reputation’, where they encourage students to find out what the Internet knows about them and think about what it’s advertising to the world.

Their idea is that students should be encouraged not only not to post videos of stupid things they might have done, but also to think about posting (tweeting, instagramming, tumblr-ing) positive views about their skills, attainments, knowledge and capabilities in a way that the usual searches will turn up not only nothing bad, but rather some good stuff.

The course was based partly on research by one of the faculty (Hargittai) that showed that, contrary to what many of us believe, many students today know less about online life than most of us. For example,

about one-third of the survey respondents could not identify the correct description of the ‘bcc’ email function. More than one-quarter said they had not adjusted the privacy settings or content of social-media profiles for job-seeking purposes.

My experience has been that I have a few students who are really tech-savvy, a few who have no idea what they are doing, and the rest somewhere in between. And, of course,  being tech savvy is a moving target. I’ve been doing email since 1990, so I certainly understand how that works. But I only joined Instagram about a month ago, and Tumblr  a few weeks earlier than that, mostly to follow a nephew who’s traveling around the world and documenting it on Tumblr.

On the third hand, I actually understand what the Heartbleed vulnerability is exploiting (and I even understand what that last sentence means…).

Anyway, some food for thought.

And, for a contrary view, try this. And for an even more contrary view on brand-building, there’s this.


It’s Not Just Facebook! What Every College Student Should Know About Online Privacy

The title says it all. This is another in the series of webinars on how to protect your privacy in our online world. Three online privacy experts, Merri Beth Lavagnino, Chief Privacy Officer & Compliance Officer, Indiana University, Jane Rosenthal, Director, Privacy Office, University of Kansas, and Kent Wada, Chief Privacy Officer & Director, Strategic IT Policy, UCLA will talk about how to protect your online life and reputation.

The date is January 30, the place is the Purdy/Kresge Auditorium, the time is 1 PM, for an hour, and no registration is needed–just come in and sit down. And, although this is directed towards students, most of us have online lives. I know I’ll be there.

What can (and has) gone wrong on Facebook–and how to fix it

If you missed Matt Ivester’s webinar Monday, you can still watch it. And you really should. Although it was directed ‘officially’ towards undergraduate students, it had much of value for anyone who uses any kind of social networking (and even for those who don’t–one of his points is that you never know what’s ‘out there’). It was filled with suggestions about how to take control of your online reputation. One of his points is that nowadays employers and other evaluators are using online search tools and finding things you might not even know about.

Links to the live presentation, Ivester’s powerpoint slides and other materials can be found here:

LOL…OMG! What can go wrong on Facebook–Jan. 30 at 1 PM in Bernath

Facebook and similar social networks are now so commonplace that the creation of Facebook was recently a major motion picture. And most of us have some kind of presence on FB, if not some additional ones (faculty and staff also use Linkedin and Plaxo, among others). On the other hand, we’ve all read about the problems that can be created if the wrong thing ends up on one of these sites. Matt Ivester (‘eye-vester’) learned a whole bunch of things when he started JuicyCampus a couple of years ago as a gossip site for universities and their students. He thought it would be fun (LOL) and it very quickly turned nasty. Very nasty. As in lawsuits and death threats (OMG). He has since written a book about his experiences, aimed primarily at high school and college students (although all of us could learn something from him). The book is, funnily enough, LOL…OMG!

EDUCAUSE, the national educational computing organization, to which Wayne State belongs, is presenting a national webcast with Matt Ivester on January 30 at 1 PM. It’s free and we’re streaming it live in Bernath Auditorium.

If you use Twitter you can ask questions (@address will be available just before the webcast).

You can find out more about this event here

As an extra added bonus, Ivester is permitting free downloads of his book (for a limited number of days) at the site mentioned in the link above.

If you can’t attend live, the event can be streamed to your desktop (probably mobile device too). Watch this space for additional details. It will also be archived, so you can watch it later, at your leisure.

Unintended consequences–federal laws to protect children online probably endanger them instead

Here’s a nice example of how passing a law to fix a perceived problem can backfire and make things even worse than before the law was passed. Here’s an article by libertarian Adam Thierer, but referencing a study by dana boyd, who gave a great talk on young people’s views of privacy on Facebook at the recent EDUCAUSE. We’re working on screening her talk in the next couple of weeks.

Larry Lessig thinks The Social Network movie gets the villains all wrong

And they’re not who you think. Larry Lessig (also here), well known for his work on copyright issues on the Internet, has a review of the Aaron Sorkin movie about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and suggests Sorkin is an old fogey battling for Hollywood’s view of the future of the internet, while Zuckerberg is the future of the internet. Interesting reading, whatever you think. Also deals with the issue of net neutrality, something I’ll have more to say about later.

Lessig review in the New Republic