Whoah people, Discovery Educator Network has teamed up to score teachers free Prezi Pro accounts!

So, to kick things off with a bang, our friends at Prezi have very generously agreed to provide all STAR Discovery Educators with a free Educator Pro account for a year (normally $59).

All you have to do to get your free Educator Pro account from Prezi is visit this page on the new DEN online community website, log in and complete the form. 

I'm a big fan of Prezi and the Pro account is definitely worth it as it gives you the offline editor, which is key! I purchased mine a while ago, but I wanted to pass it along to my educator friends.

Posted via web from arvind's posterous

Facebook's Eroding Privacy Policy - is the end of Facebook near?

Commentary by Kurt Opsahl

Since its incorporation just over five years ago, Facebook has undergone a remarkable transformation. When it started, it was a private space for communication with a group of your choice. Soon, it transformed into a platform where much of your information is public by default. Today, it has become a platform where you have no choice but to make certain information public, and this public information may be shared by Facebook with its partner websites and used to target ads.

To help illustrate Facebook's shift away from privacy, we have highlighted some excerpts from Facebook's privacy policies over the years. Watch closely as your privacy disappears, one small change at a time!

Facebook Privacy Policy circa 2005:

No personal information that you submit to Thefacebook will be available to any user of the Web Site who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings.

Facebook Privacy Policy circa 2006:

We understand you may not want everyone in the world to have the information you share on Facebook; that is why we give you control of your information. Our default privacy settings limit the information displayed in your profile to your school, your specified local area, and other reasonable community limitations that we tell you about.

Facebook Privacy Policy circa 2007:

Profile information you submit to Facebook will be available to users of Facebook who belong to at least one of the networks you allow to access the information through your privacy settings (e.g., school, geography, friends of friends). Your name, school name, and profile picture thumbnail will be available in search results across the Facebook network unless you alter your privacy settings.

Facebook Privacy Policy circa November 2009:

Facebook is designed to make it easy for you to share your information with anyone you want. You decide how much information you feel comfortable sharing on Facebook and you control how it is distributed through your privacy settings. You should review the default privacy settings and change them if necessary to reflect your preferences. You should also consider your settings whenever you share information. ...

Information set to “everyone” is publicly available information, may be accessed by everyone on the Internet (including people not logged into Facebook), is subject to indexing by third party search engines, may be associated with you outside of Facebook (such as when you visit other sites on the internet), and may be imported and exported by us and others without privacy limitations. The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to “everyone.” You can review and change the default settings in your privacy settings.

Facebook Privacy Policy circa December 2009:

Certain categories of information such as your name, profile photo, list of friends and pages you are a fan of, gender, geographic region, and networks you belong to are considered publicly available to everyone, including Facebook-enhanced applications, and therefore do not have privacy settings. You can, however, limit the ability of others to find this information through search using your search privacy settings.

Current Facebook Privacy Policy, as of April 2010:

When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you. The term General Information includes your and your friends’ names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting. ... The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to “everyone.” ... Because it takes two to connect, your privacy settings only control who can see the connection on your profile page. If you are uncomfortable with the connection being publicly available, you should consider removing (or not making) the connection.

Viewed together, the successive policies tell a clear story. Facebook originally earned its core base of users by offering them simple and powerful controls over their personal information. As Facebook grew larger and became more important, it could have chosen to maintain or improve those controls. Instead, it's slowly but surely helped itself — and its advertising and business partners — to more and more of its users' information, while limiting the users' options to control their own information.

Related Issues: PrivacySocial NetworksTerms Of (Ab)Use

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via eff.org

An absolutely elegant document from the Electronic Frontier Foundation explaining how Facebook has continued to back out of their privacy policy with which they solicited users in the first place. It's spiraling to give them more data with which to sell, have people interact, and drive more use to their site.

I'm looking forward to major influencers writing publicly about dropping Facebook and a rash of new sites popping up in its place. I think there is real opportunity here for some entrepreneurs to think about the type of service people are looking for - walled gardens, sharing important memories/information with friends and family, keeping private data private (as much as it can be on the web), etc. Why not build a service that respects individual users? Is that possible? Or is it always about scaling your product as big as it can be?

As a side note: I think Flickr is a beautiful photo-sharing site where I can be public, private, for family, or for friends. Simple, effective. Can social networking sites like Facebook get back to what works?

Posted via web from arvind's posterous

The Changing Nature of Privacy on Facebook

As usual danah boyd hits it on the head while discussing how Facebook continually changes its privacy settings (in MIT Technology Review) without caring for how it affects users. Her example on page two of how this impacts teachers is particularly meaningful for me (and probably many of my readers).

Facebook has the opportunity to be responsible, a leader in how social networking companies ethically and morally protect their users' data, but in fact they've shown just the opposite - a sort of, 'your data is ours to get out there in whatever way we see fit.'

I'm hopeful that a new generation of companies/organizations will arise to challenge our understanding of privacy - the American Library Association has a wonderful resource called Privacy Revolution, in that spirit.

Posted via web from arvind's posterous

Blaming websites like Formspring for a young girl's suicide totally misses the mark

My head of school passed Rachel Simmons' blog post, What Every Parent Should Know About Formspring: The New Cyberscourge for Teens, to me. I read it, found it troubling, and had to write a response.

I had a great conversation with our 7th and 8th graders about formspring a few weeks ago, which I blogged about here. I thought that the article by Rachel Simmons was pretty poor. She starts with, “Last week, a Long Island high school senior committed suicide, and the website Formspring.me is suspected as a cause.” She links to an article which says just the opposite! See these quotes from the article she linked to:

“Alexis' parents downplayed the Internet role, saying their daughter was in counseling before she ever signed up with formspring.me, a new social site, where many of the attacks appeared.”

"I believe in my heart that cyberbullying wasn't the cause of Lexi's death," said her mother, Paula Pilkington. "This is a mistake."

It also didn’t recognize what the site is capable of in a positive way. For instance, I purchased a new dining table that is unfinished wood, and wasn’t sure how best to treat it. So, I went to this wonderful design bloggers website and asked her a question about wood treatment via her formspring. She replied to me within an hour. Problem solved. By an expert. There is a place for every technology tool, and there’s a poor way to use all of them, too. That’s what parents and students have to negotiate.

The bigger issue here is talking to students about “anonymous” behavior on the Internet, and what it entails. I gave the girls a guiding principle that anonymous places on the Internet tend to encourage bad behavior and discourage good behavior. We want them to learn that lesson because formspring will be passé tomorrow (it actually sort of already is), and they have to be able to apply the same principles to the next new thing.

Rachel Simmon's gut instinct reaction and advice to parents is summed up in her point:

So what to do? Here’s what I suggest. Start a conversation with your daughter about Formspring. Ask her if people at school use it (don’t start off by grilling her about what she does or she may scare and fly away). Ask her what she thinks of it. Then ask her if she uses it.

If she says yes, tell her she’s banned for life from the website. Period.

This completely misses the mark. If you think you can solve problems by banning use, you're in for real trouble when kids experience the same problems in new venues - they won't tell you when they stumble into a mess for fear that you'll ban them from it. Prepare them for the world they are living in. Teach them about how it works. Set family expectations and guidelines. Connecting the tragedy of a girl with serious psychological issues to a website is hyperbole, and won't get you very far in setting your kids up for success.

Ms. Simmons, if you're reading, I'd love to talk to you more about this.

Posted via web from arvind's posterous

Why I like the word "tolerance" when talking about diversity

"Tolerance" is surely an imperfect term, yet the English language offers no single word that embraces the broad range of skills we need to live together peacefully.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used the Greek term "agape" to describe a universal love that "discovers the neighbor in every man it meets." The various disciplines concerned with human behavior have also offered a variety of adjectives: "pro-social," "democratic," "affiliative."

In its Declaration on the Principles of Tolerance, UNESCO offers a definition of tolerance that most closely matches our philosophical use of the word:

Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance is harmony in difference.

We view tolerance as a way of thinking and feeling — but most importantly, of acting — that gives us peace in our individuality, respect for those unlike us, the wisdom to discern humane values and the courage to act upon them.

Many people don't like the word "tolerance." I really like it. People have said to me that they feel it suggests that we should "tolerate" people who are different than us. I think the Teaching Tolerance explanation of word choice is elegant and clearly deals with the potential problem of wording. Do you use "tolerance" in your diversity discussions? Should we?

side note: Teaching Tolerance is one of the best educational resources I've ever come upon. It has material on so many issues from class to race to gender to sexual orientation to gender, and many more that I'm missing.

Posted via web from arvind's posterous