How do we teach Terms of Service?
Posted on July 18, 2013
Let’s start by playing a little game of Do You Remember.
Do you remember when your education Twitter timeline consisted of 5% food tweets, 10% TED Talks, and 85% new web 2.0 sites?
Do you remember student engagement go through the roof when exploring and using some of these tools?
Do you remember having your mind blown witnessing your students expand their communicative, creative, collaborative, and critical thinking capabilities?
Do you remember feeling like all these fun, innovative tools were going to make a dent in the education paradigm?
Do you remember getting down on your knees on occasion, thankful that these sites were free to use?
But do you also remember looking deep into the terms of service of any of these sites?
Do you remember the blogposts that were being retweeted questioning what we were having students agree to?
Do you remember witnessing or attending an #edtech keynote or conference workshop respectively along these lines? (Audrey Watters’ proposal was declined by ISTE this year.)
Do you remember having deep, complex discussions with your students about these legal and ethical matters?
As US intelligence whistle blower Edward Snowden seeks international asylum for helping to expose the increasingly undeniable surveillance occurring through our society’s most lauded social media tools and spaces, and as we are told of our tech giants’ deepening inextricability from suspect and surreptitious government practices, there appears to be a greater (and ironic) mainstream acceptance of the Googles of the world in education.
As someone who has earned a reputation leading and learning with students and adults alike in The World of Username and Password, I’m having an existential moment to say the least.
I’m not talking about baby and bathwater stuff here. Surely, the solution to this dilemma is not to jerk our collective knees and shoo our children away from web-based and social media spaces like some sort of figurative fire drill. Still, it neither seems right to carry on with business as #edtech usual. Suddenly, the amazing qualities of something like Google Apps for Education seems a little more about efficiency and logistics and less about transformation to me as an educator.
Am I the only one here? How are we going to do this, folks? How will we foster critical mindsets of what it means to check that I Agree button, especially in regards to students that are in our charge but not our own children?
One thing I’m thinking of initiating this September is very different to what I’ve normally done. In the past, I have strongly encouraged my students to activate and use their Google Apps for Ed. and other similar services with the understanding that they could opt out. This year, I think I’ll do it in reverse. We’re going to read all of these Terms of Service and have students and families opting in instead. Will this be inconvenient? Yes. Will it slow down our program? Yes. Is this a problem for learning? No.
I’d love your ideas, because, other than the above, I’m a bit of a blank slate right now.