Beth Holland

Food for thought…

What do ClimateGate, Tiger Woods, and Michael Phelps have in common?


This is the question that I posed to my 7th and 8th grade classes over the last several days. I told them that they would have to use their inference skills and think about the framework of the class – technology – in order to come up with their answer. They worked in relatively arbitrary groups of 4-8, and had to spend a minimum of 5 minutes actually thinking through their answers. Most groups took closer to 10 minutes to formulate their thoughts. Here are a few of the discussions that came out of it all.

  • All of these people got in trouble because of mis-use of technology. The hackers got caught. Tiger Woods got caught, and Michael Phelps lost a lot of money. (7th grade)
  • These three things all have to do with scandals, and technology exposed all of them. Because of the Internet and Twitter, everyone knows about Tiger Woods and the picture of Michael Phelps. The Internet is talking about ClimateGate because the media isn’t. (8th Grade)
  • Everyone got caught because they were stupid with their use of technology. They all used things that could be tracked: text messages, email, and the cell phone pictures of Michael Phelps. (8th Grade)

Here’s where the conversations got really interesting. We spent some time discussing how anything that goes out there, stays out there. Most of the students didn’t realize that emails and text messages were stored in multiple locations – client and server. They also still struggle with the concept of privacy on Facebook. In fact, in light of the recently accelerated shifts in policy, most of my students have no idea what they do and don’t control with their own profiles.

Yet what got me the most, was the one group who felt that the whole thing was stupid. They could not understand why someone wouldn’t use a non-tracking cell phone, or purchase a device to make their communications more secure. This group wanted to argue and hypothesize about every possible way to cover-up, or hide, their online interactions rather than take responsibility for their own online reputations.

Swift Kick Central has been blogging excerpts of their new publication, “Your New Best Friend, Social Networking in the First Year Experience.” In Section Three, as a response to, “Don’t students understand that anything that goes online will be there forever? (We need to tell them not to post this stuff.)” They respond with:

Telling them to be careful is not enough. We can’t just tell them to avoid the bad. Hiding in the basement for fear of saying something wrong is not a success strategy. The world has moved to greater levels of transparency and publicness. We must teach students to be public – this is how they will find success. We have to teach students to find, and project, the good in their record; To build, in the words of Joe Uguretz of Macaulay College “a museum of themselves.” – Kevin Prentiss, Swift Kick Central

A museum of themselves – that could be a great spring project….

Author: brholland

EdD Student, Writer, Speaker, Consultant

3 thoughts on “What do ClimateGate, Tiger Woods, and Michael Phelps have in common?

  1. Pingback: 3 Quick Tips for Building Digital Citizenship | Indiana Jen

  2. Pingback: 3 Quick Tips for Building Digital Citizenship – from Jen Carey on Edudemic | Leading Change in Changing Times

  3. Pingback: Miley, Sinead and Amanda: a lesson plan on the good, the bad and the ugly of social media interaction | ipadyoupad

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