Lesson One: Digital Safety

You will be required to conduct digital research throughout this course.  Learning how to find and use credible sources without violating copyright laws, or committing plagiarism will be vital to helping you succeed throughout your educational and professional career.

Use a Cornell Notes Template to take notes on this lesson.  If you have never taken Cornell Notes, click here to watch a youtube.com video from Learn English with Emma, to familiarize yourself with the proper way to take notes for this course.

Internet Safety

Cyberbullying is a very real danger in today’s online environment.  Virtually every school district in the country has a policy that strictly prohibits the harassment of students through social media platforms, school webpages, and even text messages.  Before we continue, take a moment to find a copy of your school’s bullying policy.  Does it include a section about cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying has real consequences: Click here to watch a TED Talk about the consequences of cyberbullying.

If you find yourself being a victim of cyberbullying, you should not confront the bully alone.  Immediately document the occurrence of bullying, contact your parent, teacher, or school administrator and tell him or her about the bullying.

Passwords and Privacy Settings

Perhaps the best guards against cyberbullying are strong privacy settings and strong passwords.  You should never accept a friend request from someone you do not know, and your profile privacy settings should be set so that only people you know well can view your posts and personal information.  Your passwords should be at least 8 characters long and include at least: One Uppercase letter, one lower case letter, a number, and a special character (!*&#@). 

Search Engines, Copyright Laws, Plagiarism, and Credibility 

Google Search is more powerful than you probably realize.  Did you know that you can narrow search results by website type, and usage rights?  Click here to read and take notes about how to use Google Search.

Now that you know how powerful Google search engines can be, it’s important to discuss the necessity to properly cite, give credit to your sources, and use products licensed for free use.

Plagiarism, or the act of passing someone else’s work off as your own, is a crime. Plagiarism will not be tolerated in any academic setting, including this one.  Willfully plagiarizing another person’s work will result in disciplinary action.

Copyright laws usually apply to music, images, and videos, and using them without the author’s knowledge or consent can result in criminal and civil penalties.  Be sure to always conduct an advanced search in Google for materials with the appropriate usage license/agreement.

Finally, your credibility as a scholar often depends heavily on the credibility of your sources.  Determining a source’s bias by finding out who owns the website can be invaluable to your research.

You may determine a source’s bias by:

  • Finding who or what organization owns or funds the source.
  • Locating the political affiliation of the source.
  • Finding who or what organizations link to the source.
  • Determining the source’s area of expertise through training or education.

Finding out which sources are home to certain types of information is equally as critical to your credibility as determining bias.  For example, websites ending with .gov (https://www.census.gov/) or .edu (http://www.psu.edu/) are typically more reliable and less biased than .com sites when it comes to government and academic data, like migration data during The Great Migration.

That concludes this lesson.  You should have a page full of notes, a reference page for Google searches, and a better understanding of what steps to take should you become the victim of a cyberbully.

When you feel comfortable, click here to test your knowledge.

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