School Resources

Overview

These resources are designed to help teachers use the Web Mirror in the classroom. They should be suitable for most Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils (11-16), although some activities may not take very long for older learners. We have provided two videos to explain the basic concepts and the use of the mirror itself for teachers who don't feel confident presenting that material themselves, or who want to use multimedia.

Most activities can be done individually, in groups, or as a plenary exercise.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand how web browsing can be used to infer things about people.
  2. Understand that advertising networks use that knowledge to target adverts.
  3. Understand how that tracking takes place.
  4. Think about the pros and cons of targeted online advertising.

Curriculum Areas

The Web Mirror, and the issues it raises, are a great example of how technology cannot be viewed merely through a technical lens. It raises profound issues about business, economics, privacy, regulation, online identity and personal autonomy; and could be used as a vehicle to discuss those various issues, or as a way to prompt reflection on how technology interacts with broader society.

In particular, the National Curriculum for Computing (KS3 & KS4) in England contains direct references to online privacy and identity, where the Web Mirror is particularly applicable:

KS3 "understand a range of ways to use technology safely, respectfully, responsibly and securely, including protecting their online identity and privacy; recognise inappropriate content, contact and conduct and know how to report concerns."

KS4 "understand how changes in technology affect safety, including new ways to protect their online privacy and identity, and how to identify and report a range of concerns."

Feedback

If you use these resources, please let us know what you thought of them! Email r.gomer at soton.ac.uk with your comments.

Introductory Video

Explains the basics of Web tracking and introduces the Web Mirror.

5 minutes

Activity 1: Your Web Browsing

Asks learners to think about their own Web browsing, and how it compares to other people's.

Download Worksheet

10 minutes

Activity 2: Who's Who?

Asks learners to look at four web browsing extracts and to match them to the person that they belong to. In addition to the worksheet, leaners will need access to the history extracts that the worksheet refers to. The goal of this activity is to prompt reflection on how Web browsing history can be used to infer things people, such as their interests or details of their lives.

Download Worksheet

Download History Samples

10 minutes

Using the Mirror Video

Explains how to use the Web Mirror, and what it shows

4 minutes

Activity 3: Try it Yourself

Gets learners to use the Web Mirror to explore their own Web browsing, or that of one of the personas introduced in Activity 2.

Learners could upload a sample of their own browsing history, if this is available and time permits (it may take a few minutes to process the history; and this could take longer if many people submit history at the same time). Alternatively, they can view the reflections of the people from Activity 2 by entering the ID numbers below.

  • Dorothy: 56e965aba13c9
  • Bradley: 56e96ac73cd42
  • Samantha: 56e97014cff8c
  • Elizabeth: 56e973c32fad1

A worksheet is provided to guide learners through the process of using the Mirror.

Download Worksheet

The Web Mirror itself is access in a Web Browser (a recent version of Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome is reccommended) at the link below.

http://mirror.websci.net/mirror/

10-20 minutes

Activity 4: Pros and Cons of Tracking

Asks learners to think about the privacy implications of Web tracking, versus the free services that it provides, using extracts from the news media. This is a more challenging exercise that requires leaners to reason about the economic and social aspects of web tracking. Some questions are provided at the top of the extracts for learners to think about, but this exercise could be extended to include additional research, or even into a small project.

Download Extracts + Questions

15 minutes

Information: Countermeasures

Provides information about different mechanisms that have been suggested to help people avoid being tracked as they use the Web.

You could use this as a discussion point; what do learners think are the best methods? Would they use any of these themselves?

Alternatively, this information maye simply used as a debrief, to reassure learners who are uncomfortable being tracked on the Web and who would prefer to do something about it.

Download Countermeasures Information

10-20 minutes