Tech Tuesday: Privacy, Part 5 – Choosing What to Share

Each Tuesday, pleasureinlearning brings you Tech Tuesday.  Come back each week for more ways to become efficient and effective in your use of technology. 


You hear a lot of talk about computer security and personal privacy.  This series will explore privacy and the role you play as a consumer and as an individual.

When using social media, you must also choose what to share and what not to share. You may have noticed that Facebook allows you to set default privacy settings for a post, but you can also set the privacy of an individual post.

Post Privacy (click image to view source website)

Based on who is going to see your post, decide what to share. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  1. Does this post indicate that I (or someone I love) am home alone?
  2. Does this post indicate that my home (or a loved one’s home) is empty?
  3. Does this post inadvertently share my personal information? (e.g. Is my house number in the picture I’m posting?)
  4. Is this my information to share? (i.e. Does this violate someone else’s right to privacy?)

While we’re on the subject of how much you want to share with certain groups of people, consider a somewhat recent article on the NSA-Facebook relationship in a post-Snowden era. Essentially, Facebook has taken steps to secure your data from the prying eyes of the NSA.

However, there is a resultant cautionary tale from this article. Facebook has implemented SSL as its method of encrypting traffic between you and its servers. Approximately one month after this article was written, the Heartbleed vulnerability was announced. Heartbleed is a weakness in an implementation of SSL (called OpenSSL). Think of SSL like the patent for a really awesome lock.  The lock is practically perfect in theory, but you also have to manufacture it, set it up and install it correctly, otherwise the lock may be easily circumvented. In this metaphor, Heartbleed was an error in the manufacture of the lock at one manufacturing plant. The mistake wasn’t caught before the lock was shipped to millions of customers.

What things do you avoid sharing?

Fresh Starts

BrianSchool has the length and variety of subjects to make mistakes not be fatal flaws. Suppose an assignment receives a poor grade, or even a course, or even – gasp –a term. School is very forgiving because of fresh starts. Granted, the perfectionist who has to make 100 on every assignment will not be satisfied with this milk-toast view I’m putting forth here, but the perfectionist might find learn a good lesson from those with weaknesses.

Most people have weaknesses. These are not moral flaws; they are simply areas where one struggles at what others do more easily. After a failure or repeated failures, the answer might be as simple as a fresh start. Many students catch on to the culture of learning and become wiser. For example, with a required subject that is an area of weakness, success might be redefined as making a B or C while keeping stronger grades in other subjects. The fresh start in this case is a new mentality of accepting limitations and maximizing opportunities more likely to succeed in the conventional sense.sometimesallweneed

A fresh start could mean stopping to do an overall assessment. Students often flock to a vocational track that offers higher wages, nothing wrong here. It might not be a match, however, to real aptitudes or personal interests. It’s difficult for teachers and advisors to douse hopes by ambitious students, and perhaps learning by trial and error is the best way.

A former student in my English class got through one year of nursing school and had the courage to leave the program, even though she was a stellar student. The fact is, she’s an entrepreneur and had been already for years. Nursing looked lucrative and glamorous, but her interests were more toward business. Thankfully she had the courage to make a fresh start.

emergencyA fresh start for nontraditional students might mean weighing up family, job, and school realistically and not taking an all-or-nothing strategy with any one area. It takes maturity to step out of a crisis mentality where life always is moving from emergency to emergency. The poor word emergency needs a rest.

Then there’s the cliché, “I’ve got a lot on my plate.” Some wisdom with portion size might help. The chronic attitude of self-esteem by virtue of business is more of a pack mentality than the sign of independent learning skills and critical thinking. But then, taking a look at ourselves is never as easy as others taking a look at us.

It’s great, however, when we can take a look at ourselves and be thankful that the urgency of school is not so urgent that a longer, more encompassing view of life can’t check the discouragement of a failure in the moment.

Ending on an Up Note: Teaching as Performance Art

chalkboard2On October 15, Slate, a daily web magazine, published an excerpt from Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom by Lewis Buzbee (Graywolf Press). His recollection of Miss Babb, his fourth-grade teacher is stunning:

“There is a theatrical element to teaching, and it is necessary. The physical dramatics of the classroom—all those bodies and brains ritually focused—can create a new and singular mind, and foster in the individual student an urgent hunger to learn. A good teacher, like Miss Babb, can, with a nod or a wink, or by simply repeating a key phrase slowly and with certain emphasis, maybe leaning toward her student body, deliver a chapter’s worth of information instantly and unforgettably. Otherwise, we might as well stay home and read to ourselves. The teacher commands her audience, conducts them.”

You can read the entire excerpt here. I promise it’s worth the click.

Enjoy your weekend.

Classhack: Accounting Treasure Hunt

Treasure Hunt(2)Today’s classhack is a gift from Ryan Ray, who teaches a variety of classes, including accounting courses, for the Professional & Technical Studies division at our college. Ray realizes that encouraging students to read their accounting textbooks is a challenge, especially when the topic is “less than scintillating.” Ray deploys a tactic suggested by Dr. Pam Petty of Western Kentucky University, who offered the convocation address and workshops at our college earlier this year.

Ray poses a series of questions that require his students to search for the answers within their assigned reading. Like children racing to find Easter eggs, the learners gather up bits of information, acquiring knowledge of accounting as they go. Ray notes that this strategy has improved preparation and comprehension in his classes.search_books

Ray’s experience reminds us of an earlier post by our colleague Stuart Zieman, who has posted about his success in using a similar method in very different courses. (Click here to view Zieman’s thoughts on “Connecting Techs to Texts.”) Thanks to Ryan and Stuart for reminding us that reading is critical for success in all college classes and for sharing their experiences. Thanks, too, to Dr. Petty, whose influence continues to support pleasure in learning for us and our students.

Bonus Post: Wash Your Paws!

happyhandsToday is Global Handwashing Day. With all the troubling new stories about controlling infections disease (or the failure to do so!), this celebration is especially timely. What does this have to do with pleasureinlearning? You might be surprised.

  • Sensual pleasure. Treat yourself to some scented hand soap that you enjoy using. Research shows that soap conveys great advantages in removing germs from your hands versus using water alone.  However, antibacterial soaps do not appear to offer any advantage over “regular” soap, and may contribute to the emergence of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
  • Surprise. You may be surprised to learn that up to 80% of infectious disease transmission can be prevented by good handwashing.
  • Humor. One strategy for ensuring that you spend enough time in washing your hands recommends singing “Happy Birthday to You” twice (and no cheating by singing like The Chipmunks!) You may get some strange looks at the restroom sink. Just smile knowingly.
  • Belonging to a group. That would be the group of people whose disgusting paws are not spreading germs all over the place. Downside: you have to take up the slack at work for all the people who are home sick because they, or the person who made their salad, did not wash their hands.
  • Achievable challenge. Seriously? Washing your hands is too difficult or too much trouble? You can do this.
  • Owning something of value. As in “health.” ‘Nuff said?
  • Autonomy. Washing your hands is the ultimate do-it-yourself project. Smokey the Bear used to remind us that “Only you can prevent forest fires.” The truth is, only you can prevent influenza, rotavirus, RSV, and who knows what else.

Now go wash your hands!hands2

Need proof? Click here for “Publications, Data, and Statistics” from the CDC.

Bedtime Stories 101 – Gone Bad

anneAs children, we loved to have a book read to us just before going to sleep. They were so comforting. You got to spend time with your mom or dad, snuggling under the covers, hanging on every word until your little eyes couldn’t take it anymore. Remember those days?bedtimestory

In elementary school you had the reading groups. The stories were interesting. They were simple to read, and each week you got to go to the library and check out a book you wanted to read. boyonbooksThe first ones I remember were the Biography of Andrew Jackson and Seacathch: the Story of a Fur Seal. I loved those books. In fact, I read them several times! I couldn’t wait to get more.

Then you graduated to middle school, high school or college. What a difference! Read chapter 6 in History, chapter 15 and 16 in Biology, and don’t forget Act 3 scenes 4 and 5 of Hamlet – all for tomorrow’s class and, oh yes, there may be a test over the material. girlCarryingStackOfBooksYour college classes are so demanding. The chapters now have increased to 50 or 60 pages each, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time for everything. Unless you thrive on reading these epistles, you would probably rather take a dose of Castor Oil.

We killed it! What happened? What events transpired to put such a bad taste in your mouth for reading? There is nothing that you voluntarily want to read. What makes you shy away from these outside readings?

In my opinion, books need to be fun (humor) and interesting (surprise). I want to read things that get my attention quickly and are easy to read.I favor books that provide information that is actually useful and relatable (things of value). I want to be drawn in (belonging to a group) and not be able to put the book down. Of course, I also look for books with big print and lots of pictures! Am I revealing too much about myself here? Pay close attention to the parentheses – see the connection?

valueofbooksAs educators, do we apply these criteria to books we choose for our students to read, or do we choose books based on philosophical principles that we as individuals hold dear? Sometimes we choose the former, but other times we go out on a limb and choose books which are boring, uninteresting and likely to end up as door stops or dust catchers.

If your institution has a program to promote outside reading, maybe book selections should be made with the student in mind. Read the book first, then ask yourself: “If I were a student, would I read this book? How has this book helped me?” You may be surprised at your answer.

See you later between the lines!

Tech Tuesday: Privacy, Part 4 – Social Media Settings

Each Tuesday, pleasureinlearning brings you Tech Tuesday.  Come back each week for more ways to become efficient and effective in your use of technology. 


You hear a lot of talk about computer security and personal privacy.  This series will explore privacy and the role you play as a consumer and as an individual.

Once you have decided to use a social media outlet, you must still make wise choices in how you use it.  This involves both the settings you choose and the things that you share.

Unfortunately, social media sites are not “set it and forget it” when it comes to privacy settings. They are frequently changed and so you should regularly audit your privacy settings.  Tie it to something important… like your monthly smoke detector test, or your monthly breast self-exam (it is Breast Cancer Awareness month, after all), or your monthly poker night.  Pick something.  Maybe even do it now!

Facebook is the most commonly used social media site in the US, so here are two of the settings pages that you should look at today.  You can see the settings I’ve chosen.

Facebook Privacy


Facebook Privacy 2

Stay tuned for next week’s post. We’ll look at what you should and should not post on your social media sites.