I regret that my last blog was so negative. I was going to talk about it. I’m not. This week’s Mozilla stuff was cool. I may have been defeating the purpose of the exercise, but I skimmed over all the stuff that involved instructions for educators and got right to messing with whatever the exercise was supposed to be. I don’t feel like I have any use for the other stuff at the moment, so I left it behind to interact with and assess the materials that Mozilla set up or linked to. Or I tried to. Actually, I was kind of frustrated that it wasn’t easier to skip the “for teachers” instructions, which was meta material in my view, and interact with whatever the product was, in some cases. But I guess that speaks to the target audience for this program. They’re trying to teach teachers how to teach the Internet, so the focus will be on teaching and not simply, “look at this,” which is what I was looking for. One thing that stood out was a game that “taught” kids to code by having them use HTML to help their cat avatar jump around the screen. That was a neat idea, although as I played through the demo I didn’t notice a lot of very specific instruction or like any context or anything for the children to be using one or two HTML tags. Maybe because it’s the demo. Maybe the full version is more complete.
I was also drawn to some of the activities addressing cyber security and personal privacy online. A lot of the stuff I saw regarded how to talk to students about these things, and the meanings of terms, and the importance of keeping things private sometimes and how being online doesn’t change that. I think that’s all really valuable stuff and I see why it exists and I think it’s important. Whether it should be a teacher’s job to teach these lessons I think is a separate issue, but I don’t believe it is in the heart of any real educator to leave a student or anyone adrift if they can help it, just because it’s not their job to help them. So good on you teachers, for trying to do what you can in a world that is doing it’s best to not help you out. That said, I skipped all the teacherly stuff to try and find the real information and experience. At one point I realized that while all of the activities we were using we optimized for use in Firefox, at least one required its use specifically. This was an activity that required using an extension. An extension that I would have gladly downloaded and used, but I was then and am now as I almost only am on Safari, and I’m not going to switch for one extension. The extension in question shows the user what websites are using cookies to track them and where they (the cookies) come from. And that’s probably really good to know, especially if you’re trying to keep track of that type of thing, which you probably should be. Whenever we talk (like we as humans in the 21st century) about information security and personal identifiers, revealing true information about ourselves, I think of this fantasy novel I read when I was like 14. It had to do with people and dragons, and this one lady for whatever reason could speak dragon, I think, and as such she was able to learn their names. Not like FireWing or whatever people were calling them, but their true names. And that gave her an incredible amount of power over them. I think when we get too loose about our information (and it’s hard not to be when [as I just found out when I changed my Cookies setting after reading about them] so many websites REQUIRE you to enable cookies) we leave the door open to all kinds of trouble that could give one sneaky, shitty person a tremendous amount of power over us. The more that is known about you, the easier you are to pin down. The easier you are to predict, anticipate, outsmart, and deceive. This is as true in the world as it is on the internet, and we would all do well to remain mindful of it.