Lesson 5: Digital Footprint

Overview

Question of the Day: How can you make sure that your private information stays private?

This lesson takes a step back from students’ work developing web pages to help them articulate what personal information they choose to share digitally and with whom. It also reinforces the notion that much of the information that they choose to share digitally falls largely out of their control the moment it is released.

Students look at several social media pages to determine what sorts of information people are sharing about themselves or one another. Last, students reflect on what guidelines they think are appropriate for posting information online.

The ultimate point of this lesson is not to scare students, but rather to experientially bring students to realize that they don’t have control over information released online.

Purpose

Now that students are beginning to share information publicly, it's crucial that they are instilled with an understanding of the potential consequences of sharing personal information online.

In this lesson students look through several example social media profiles for fake students. Individually these pages contain relatively innocuous information, but when students cross reference information across multiple profiles they see how a detailed picture (or digital footprint) can start to form. Through this activity students see that even information that they may not see as private on its own can share more information than intended when combined with other small details.

Assessment Opportunities

  1. Understand and explain reasons that it is difficult to control who sees information published online.

    In page 2 the Social Sleuth activity guide, look at students' explanations of how information was accidentally shared.

  2. Understand and justify guidelines for safely publishing information online.

    Review students' checklists in the lesson wrap up.

Agenda

Lesson Modifications

Warm Up (10 min)

Activity (30 min)

Wrap Up (5 minutes)

View on Code Studio

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Understand and explain reasons that it is difficult to control who sees information published online.
  • Understand and justify guidelines for safely publishing information online.

Preparation

  • Print out copies of "Social Sleuth" for each student (or one for each group if grouping)

Links

Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.

For the Teachers

For the Students

Vocabulary

  • Digital Footprint - The collected information about an individual across multiple websites on the Internet.

Support

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Teaching Guide

Lesson Modifications

Attention, teachers! If you are teaching virtually or in a socially-distanced classroom, please see these modifications for Unit 2.

Warm Up (10 min)

Discussion Goal

Goal: This discussion is not about coming up with a comprehensive list of personal information students may have shared with websites, nor is it to frighten them out of sharing information. The goal is for students to start thinking more critically about when and where they share information about themselves.

This will prime them for the main activity of the day, looking at specific pieces of information and audiences to consider when their privacy matters, and whether they are unknowingly giving up their privacy.

If students are having trouble thinking of information, you may want to follow up with some more specific prompts:

  • What information do you know you've given to a website (eg. your email address)
  • What information might you have unknowingly given to a website (eg. a picture with your home address)
  • What information might other people have shared about you without your knowledge or permission (eg. tagging you on Facebook)

Your Digital Footprint

Prompt: Ask the students to consider what websites they have given personal information to. In small groups, ask students to come up with a list of websites that they have accounts on (even if they use sign-in with Facebook, Google, or similar) and what kind of information they think these websites might have about them.

Discuss: Have students silently brainstorm or journal, then share with a partner, and finally share as a full class. Create a comprehensive list of all of the websites that may have their personal information.

Remarks

There's a lot of information that we put on the internet, whether we mean to do it or not. While we might be okay with some of that information being online, there are other things that we would like to keep private. All of the information about us that can be found on the Internet is known as our digital footprint. We want to be careful about what information is included in that digital footprint.

Key Vocabulary:

  • Digital Footprint - The collected information about an individual across multiple websites on the Internet.

Question of the Day: How can you make sure that your private information stays private?

Activity (30 min)

Investigating Social Profiles

Goal: Explore how small pieces of personal information, spread across multiple sites on the Internet, can produce a fairly detailed picture of a person, known as a digital footprint.

Group: This activity can be done individually, but is better when students are in groups of 2-3

Distribute: Activity guide to "Social Sleuth"

Transition: Send students to Code Studio.

Wrap Up (5 minutes)

Assessment Opportunity

Goal: Use this discussion to create a lasting checklist of best practices for when publishing information online. Possible checks include:

  • Could someone identify me with this information?: for example name, address, phone number, etc.
  • Do I want everyone to see this?: Don't publish anything you don't want to possibly be published to the world.
  • Do I want this to be permanent?: You lose control of information once it's published and it could be around for your entire life.

Students' lists may be different but should cover these principles and additional ones they saw in today's lesson.

Ensure that students are using the lesson's key vocabulary:

digital footprint - the collected information about an individual across multiple websites on the Internet

Shaping Your Digital Footprint

Question of the Day: How can you make sure that your private information stays private?

Remarks

The activity today focused on how social media websites contribute to a digital footprint. As we prepare to publish our first web pages, you'll need to think about how those contribute to your digital footprint.

Prompt: With your elbow partner, come up with a checklist that you can use to determine what should, and shouldn't, be posted online.

Share: Allow groups to share out their checklists, using the responses to develop a class-wide web publishing checklist. Consider making a poster of your class-wide checklist that you can refer back to throughout the unit.

  • Lesson Overview
  • 1
  • (click tabs to see student view)
View on Code Studio

Teaching Tip

Student Instructions

  • Social Sleuth
  • 2
  • (click tabs to see student view)
View on Code Studio

Teaching Tip

Social Sleuth

Step 1: Students look through all of the provided social media pages on Code Studio. The pages represent several unique individuals, each of whom has an account on three social media platforms. They are distributed as follows (do not share this with students):

FaceSpace Chirpr instantframe
John Thomas John T @johnsnow johnsnow
Haley Gutierrez Haley G @flyinghail desertrider
Lizzie Dell Lizzie Dell @lillizard photolizzie

Tip:

Students are asked to choose two users from the available profiles, but if you are short on time, you can ask students to complete just one of the footprints.

Step 2: Once they've looked through the pages, students will attempt to figure out who the two users are and answer some detailed questions about them. The footprint questions are designed to push students towards combining details from multiple social platforms and understanding that together the profiles represent more detailed information than the users probably intend to reveal about themselves. Some questions may not be answerable for all users, or may have different levels of details (full street address for one user, but only a city and state for another).

Share: Have the class share the digital footprints that they developed through the activity.

Discuss:

  • Which information was most difficult to find?
  • Which details were innocuous on their own, but revealed private information when combined with other details?
  • How does this make you think differently about what you choose to post online?

Student Instructions

Social Sleuth

You will need the Social Sleuth Worksheet to complete this activity.

Profiles

Click on the picture for each profile to open it.

FaceSpace

FaceSpace: Lizzie Dell FaceSpace: John T FaceSpace: Haley G.

Chirpr

Chirpr: @johnsnow Chirpr:@flyinghail Chirpr: @lillizard

instantframe

instantframe: johnsnow instantframe: @photolizzie instantframe:@desertrider

Standards Alignment

View full course alignment

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2017)

IC - Impacts of Computing
  • 2-IC-20 - Compare tradeoffs associated with computing technologies that affect people's everyday activities and career options.
  • 2-IC-23 - Describe tradeoffs between allowing information to be public and keeping information private and secure.
NI - Networks & the Internet
  • 1B-NI-05 - Discuss real-world cybersecurity problems and how personal information can be protected.