Four lesson plans, three for students in Grades 6 to 9 and one for those in Grades 9 to 12, will incorporate videos, class discussions and exercises introducing students to important online privacy principles. (THE NEWS/files)

Four lesson plans, three for students in Grades 6 to 9 and one for those in Grades 9 to 12, will incorporate videos, class discussions and exercises introducing students to important online privacy principles. (THE NEWS/files)

New lesson plans for Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows cover privacy awareness on social media

Lessons geared towards students from Grades 6 to 12

Try putting toothpaste back into a tube – it’s virtually impossible.

That is the analogy being used by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of B.C. as a part of the new lesson plans that will be greeting students for the coming school year based around protection in the digital world.

The Privacy Commissioner has launched four lesson plans, three for students in Grades 6 to 9 and one for those in Grades 9 to 12, that incorporate videos, class discussions and exercises introducing students to important online privacy principles created by MediaSmarts, a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization that champions digital and media literacy.

For the past five years, intermediate and high school students in School District No. 42 have been using two other products by MediaSmarts, My World and Passport to the Internet, and assistant superintendent David Vandergugten couldn’t be more pleased that the new lesson plans were created by the same company.

”Instead of just sort of drawing material, kids are expected to memorize or read, they are actually interactive gamification of Internet safety, which we found to be quite powerful,” Vandergugten said about the most recent plans.

He described the new ones as being online simulations, in which students pick their own adventures, then get a sudden friend request from somebody they don’t know and later learn that they shouldn’t have friended that person or posted a picture.

My World specifically focuses on challenges students encounter when managing their privacy and online reputation. It already addresses topics such as managing online relationships, recognizing risky online behaviour in peers, excessive Internet and online gaming, sexting and dealing with hateful comments by friends.

Vandergugten feels the new lesson plans will complement the ones already being taught in the school district.

The first new lesson plan for Grades 6 to 9 is an on online information, comparing how deleting personal information is like trying to put toothpaste back into a tube.

Students will watch a short video followed by a discussion, then read a series of short scenarios showing them how easily their information can be copied, how it can be seen by unintended audiences or larger audiences than intended, and how it becomes searchable. Students will then create a simple animation illustrating these principles.

The second lesson will be about the value of privacy, how privacy is a fundamental human right and how valuable their personal information is. The lesson shows students that most “free” apps and online services make some or all of their revenue by collecting and, in some cases, reselling users’ personal information. This lesson will include a video on the ramifications of paying with privacy, where students will learn how to minimize the personal information they share. They will then create a public service announcement about the value of privacy.

The third lesson for this age group follows the same theme in teaching students what information is being collected by mobile apps and websites and how it is being used.

For students in Grades 9 to 12, they will be learning about the privacy principles that inform the Alberta and B.C. Personal Information Protection Acts, Québec’s An Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector, and the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act relating to personal information collected online.

Students will learn about ways to find out what personal information can be or has already been collected by platforms that they use, how to limit data collection about themselves and the various forms of recourse that are available to them if they feel an organization is not respecting their rights.

“Students today rely on smartphones, iPads, laptops and other devices at school and at home,” said Michael McEvoy, B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner.

“That’s why privacy education is absolutely critical in today’s schools,” he explained.

The plans were created in collaboration with Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial privacy protection authorities along with MediaSmarts, a Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization that champions digital and media literacy.

“It’s our hope to support teachers by offering these modules for use in their classroom,” said McEvoy.

“By doing so, they will be letting students know that privacy is a fundamental value and that their personal information is valuable,’ he added.

Vandergugten loves the toothpaste analogy.

“While you’ve posted something that now you want to get back, be it a picture or anything, it’s virtually impossible,” he said.

“Kids being able to process and explore in a simulation, I think, is much more powerful than finding out the hard way.”

• For more information, go to www.oipc.bc.ca/resources/lesson-plans/.