Will Safety Ever be Baked In?
Whether or not social apps can be made as trolling- and cyberbullying-proof as possible before they hit the app stores is a question more and more people are asking – and asking that question is a step in the right direction. The spanking-new anonymous app Secret is already making some changes after a “flap” in Silicon Valley about so-called grownup users’ behavior in the app, the New York Times reports.
“To reduce negative comments, Secret has said that it is adding features that detect when people’s names are typed into messages and warn those who would include them to ‘think before they post’,” according to the Times. “Users also have the ability to ban those who trash-talk others.”
This may be the next step beyond tutorials on YouTube, MOOCs (massively open online courses), Google Play for Education and YouTube EDU. It may even be signaling the next step for education. It’s called “Oppia,” and it’s a learning teaching tool. It helps teachers customize what they’re teaching, student by student – by asking the individual learner questions and, “based on how the learner responds to those questions, the teacher decides how to proceed, which questions to ask, how to give feedback and so on,” TechCrunch reports.
It’s part of the shift (I hope) we’re seeing away from mass-production education, as it helps tailor the subject to the learner rather than the other way around. “You can think of this as a smart feedback system that tries to ‘teach a person to fish,’ instead of simply revealing the correct answer or marking the submitted answer as wrong,” Google says.
We all – young people and everybody who works with them – are learning what that looks like: skilled navigation of a networked world. We’re also working out what the skills are, how to teach them and what kind of environment (home, school and media environment) supports that learning.
As a society, we’ve only just begun working the problem. The first 15 or so years of the public discussion about youth Internet safety has been much more about protecting children from new media than about helping them learn to navigate it successfully (including safely).
What do a high school student who’s a bullying prevention activist, two criminology professors and Safer Internet Day have in common? They’re all sending the same message that safety and wellbeing online takes all of us.
Aidan McDaniel the student activist says school safety happens from the ground (the students) up. Social cruelty both online and offline isn’t a student problem that administrators and teachers can fix from the top down, he told Public News Service when he was 16, it’s “everybody’s problem” and the solution doesn’t happen “without working with each other.” Continue reading
The New York City Department of Education has published a social media guide for students – one for which, very wisely, it got student input. And apparently students were asking for guidance like this. Jane Pook, DOE executive director for digital communication policy and strategy, told the Huffington Postthat demand for the guide “came from students.” Across the river in New Jersey, teacher Kevin Jarrett told his professional network in Facebook that it’s “one of the best guides of its kind I’ve seen, and should be required reading at districts anywhere that truly embrace social media in the classroom.” [As for New Jersey itself, the state Senate just passed a bill that “would require middle school students to take a course on how to use social media responsibly,” the Huff Post reported. Let’s hope it will be taught well.]