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Classroom resources

A lesson exploring digital permanence from Azoomee

Learning objective

To be able to explain digital permanence and talk about how hard it is to remove something from the Internet once you put it out there.

Success Criteria:

  • I can talk about how actions online can have consequences now and in the future
  • I can understand that actions online leave digital footprints and that erasing an action does not mean it is completely gone from the Internet
  • I can think critically about my actions online for future contexts

The lesson

Starter: 10-15 mins

Tell the class you have a problem that you need some help with. You found copies of a silly photo of yourself taken by a friend that you would like to destroy so that no one can ever find them again. (The photo can be as simple as a selfie with your tongue out or an absurd face, printed/photocopied on half/quarter sheets.) Set the students up so that they can make a bit of a mess hand out scissors and a copy of the photo to each student. Ask them to destroy the copies as best they can by cutting them up into the smallest possible pieces. After this cathartic exercise, have some students help clean up the mess by going around and collecting all the pieces in a bin. Ask the class if they think they have done a sufficient job “destroying” the image (at which point they should all be fairly pleased with their efforts) and have a worried “aha!” moment where you remember something. Explain your dilemma to the students: you forgot that you also posted this image to friends online because you thought it was funny. Do they think you can take the photo down from where you shared it and be rid of it forever? Ask the students to turn to a partner and discuss briefly their thoughts on whether or not this is possible. Ask the students to share some of their thoughts with the class.

Main: 5-10 mins

Tell the class that you’re going to watch an episode of Search it Up that talks about what you just discussed and introduce the name of the episode (I don’t want everyone to see my bum!) – you may get a bit of a giggle at the title, but it should grab the students attention. After watching, ask the students what they thought about Maya wanting to share the video of her brother online and what were the risks (this is where you may want to introduce how the future plays a part in considering what is shared)? How would they answer the question from your previous discussion now about whether or not you can completely erase that photo of yourself posted on the Internet? How can you do better next time (i.e. think more carefully about what you share, for now and the future)? Explain that removing the image from where you posted will help make it less findable, but it will never fully erase it from the Internet – decide here whether to mention some of the reasons why this is, such as websites and services storing information or people re-posting/sharing on.

Plenary: 5-10 mins

Introduce the term “PERMANENT” by displaying it on a board or screen for the class. Ask the students to discuss in small groups or pairs what they think the word means and have them write down a definition as well as a clear sentence that helps demonstrate its meaning. Have groups share their definitions and sentences with the class before presenting your own official definition (perhaps sourced from a child friendly dictionary). For example, Merriam Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary definition is: Permanent (adjective) - lasting or continuing for a very long time or forever : not temporary or changing. After presenting the definition with the class, connect the word permanent back to the recent lesson and discussion and introduce the term “digital permanence” as a way of describing that when information, content, or really anything is put on the Internet, it is pretty permanent.

Classroom resources

A lesson exploring digital permanence from Azoomee

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