Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Google Terms Changes

On March 1, the terms and services that Google provides will change. I thought I would explain what these changes mean.

Here are the new Google policies:

If you use Google for holding documents, mail, and calendar there is a shift coming that you may or may not enjoy. If you are logged into Google and you run a search on a given topic, the first search results may include your own personal files or emails now.

Google's terms are changing to link your information into your own personalized search engine. And while most people may think this is an invasion of privacy, it really isn't. It is only showing up for you because you are logged in. Others will not see your personalized results.

But Google does track your personal search history and some people are really frightened about what that means. So there are steps you can take to remove your history. This site seems to provide a good step-by-step process for removing your history or even activating the tool to help you remember your search history.

So why are people making a big deal about all this?
The deal is that now the search engine is going to be searching the content people have been posting in their accounts. People hold their own data very securely. Some people want to use Google to hold their mailbox in one area that is searchable and their files in another area that is searchable. But to mesh them together where Google can search all means that Google now has merged all your data into one searchable spot. And this is kind of frightening to some people who really want to know their data is secure.

A big deal in education:
Some districts have authorized Google Mail to be their student email system. But in CIPA rules, you can't allow outside school officers to data-mine private student data. When the terms go into effect, districts are effectively giving Google the ability to data mine student data because the new policy is putting the power of Google Search into data-mining student's files. So there is some scratching of the heads in districts about what to do about this.  Google is a great tool but the CIPA policy needs to bend a bit to allow this to continue.

Can I opt out?
No. Google's policies and terms will apply to everyone. They don't give you an option to turn this off. The policies are their policies to make and they are setting this as the new policy for how their tools will work. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 29

It is the night before our big event on Feb 29. I am really excited about having Maria Henderson come in to share about how mobile technology is changing how we all learn.

Let me tell you how this all started.

A few months back, I noticed that there was more interest in getting mobile devices into our schools. The number of requests for iPads and iPods had increased. Teachers and principals made it clear that this was the tool they wanted to use.

And we bought a few and put them here and there. They were used....somewhat...but what really changed? What did this new gadget offer that something else we had didn't? It was hard to pin down. And it was really hard to get an answer from people asking "what are you going to do with that?".

I'm not a gadget person. I am a "what will this tool do to change how your kids learn" person. I want to know how what you want to buy will change your instruction to be more interactive and engaging with students? I hate to buy something that will be used as a replacement for a clicker or a camera and then be put back on a shelf. I want to know what how these tools are going to be used.

At a time when many larger districts are going 1:1 (1 computer per 1 student) and others are going BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology), I felt we needed to start the conversation with our administrators about their expectations and vision for mobile tools in education. And I wanted to bring in someone to help ALL of us with the conversation. This isn't something I felt comfortable leading on my own. I wanted help.

So I asked my rep at Apple for help and Maria is who we turned to.

The original plan was just for administrators to get a presentation, but then I wanted my committee to be part of this. I think of the Librarians in the district and I wanted them to be part of the conversation. I also wanted our Special Education staff to be part of this as well.

Soon, the plan moved from only a few hearing the presentation to inviting...well...everyone to hear it.

And now, here we are.

So tomorrow night, I hope to be back reading comments from those who attended on our event evaluation form.

It is exciting because I know that conversations about change cause a range of responses including fear, excitement, hurt, shame, and vision. Change is difficult. But this is just the start of a conversation to see if change is in our future.

I hope it turns out well!