Monday, 16 April 2012

Cyber Safety

Normally when I hear the phrase 'cyber safety' I inwardly groan, however now that I am publishing a lot more things online that involve students I am beginning to realise that it is a very important thing. I don't want to give away information about students that is private and I would hope that they would show me the same respect.

The reason I am bringing this up is that I had a fairly big dilemma over the holidays. I had the neurotransmitter footage, and it was excellent footage, I was really happy with it. Except for one minor detail. One of my students had used their full name as their nickname in the game. Now I had a 4 options, 1) forget about the footage, 2) find footage without the name in it, 3) try to blur the name or 4) publish it whole.

I knew that publishing it whole was not fair on that student, and that I really should not consider that as an option, so that left me with the first 3 options. Forgetting the footage was not something I was willing to do without putting a bit of effort in to save it, so that was a last resort. I searched through the footage and came to realise that since the camera work is so dynamic, finding decent scenes without the name in it was almost impossible, so that left me with option 3, trying to blur or cover the name.

I tried covering the name with a blue square in Screenflow, it took a long time, and was also very distracting to watch, which was going to take away from the great lesson happening behind the blue square. So that left trying to blur it, now iMovie, the latest version at least, is an awesome software package for basic editing, but since Apple removed the ability to work with plugins there is no way to blur parts of the video.

After a fair amount of investigation as to what was the best option if I wanted to try blurring I settled on Adobe Premiere Elements. I am impressed with the software, it makes editing in HD possible for me and after watching a youtube tutorial on adding a blur away I went. 15 minutes of video at 30 frames per second, I visited each frame, making sure that if the name was there, you couldn't read it. This took an astronomical amount of time (about 6 hours) and I thought I had it nailed, so I published it to youtube as private and asked someone to take a look as well as taking a look myself.

I could see the name about 15 times, so I went back to Premiere and found those frames, re-edited and re-published. Looked at it myself, asked another person to look at it. We both thought it was ok, there was not a time when the name could be seen. So I made the video public. It is no longer public. Somehow people were managing to see the name. I have no idea how it works, I checked each frame individually in Premiere and each frame, if the name was present, had it blurred out.

So I have had to resort to option 1, forget about the footage, unfortunately. So if you were looking forward to seeing the map in action, sorry but I just don't have the time to spend, especially if it isn't going to work, to edit the footage and blur the name out. So instead I have just recorded a 13 minute or so walk-through of the map, explaining what we did, the concepts I covered (and missed) and the different areas of the map. I will upload this to my youtube channel shortly.

On a more positive note, classes have started again after a 2 week break, and I am heading back into teaching my year 7 class about states of matter. I am planning on showing the students the video I published to youtube and having a discussion about what they learnt at the time, and what they still remember. I am going to record the audio of the discussion we have and might publish that for you guys to have a listen to.

The interesting thing is that I showed them this comment that was put on that video

"13 copies of minecraft= $338
13 budget gaming computers=$5200 @400 each
5538 USD to teach 12 kids 3 states of matter.
It may look cool, and fun, and super awesome, but I'm sorry, it's still a poor way to teach. There is no reason you can't do the same thing with a text book. Games must remain games, and school must remain school. This is like giving a 13 year old a copy of Call of Duty 1 and thinking that will teach him all he needs to know about WWII."

and then asked them what they thought. They were very defensive, they completely disagreed with the idea that this was a poor way to teach. Of course they did, they were playing a game, but they were also learning. I asked them what they would prefer, me or them reading them a slab of text, or what we did. No surprise here, they chose Minecraft. But I took it one step further and asked them whether they thought they learnt more this way. Their response was that they felt they did, and my gut feeling from the discussion we had today as we kept learning about the states of matter is that even after a 2 week break, they still remember what the 3 states are and how the molecules are 'spaced' in each state. For me, this is a massive win, it means that they do at least remember the lesson. Also that my goal of introducing them to the 3 states of matter, and sneakily, without mentioning it, the particle model was a success.

Anyway I think that is enough ranting for now, I will hopefully be posting a bit more regularly now that classes have started again, and will most certainly be updating you on the year 7 science class. As always thanks for taking the time to read and feel free to share your thoughts or feelings in the comments below.


  1. I responded to that comment. Obviously not a teacher but there will be people that only see things at surface value such as it is a "game" and games don't belong in schools when in fact, games do have a place in education. There is a lot of great research out there supporting using simulations in education. Check out this article:

  2. Thanks for the response, I had not checked that video since I wrote this post and I am glad to hear I am not the only one who thought that it was way off base, so I really appreciate you adding your thoughts here and on that video.

    Also thanks for that link, I will have a read and perhaps use that in future 'discussions' about the value of games in education.