Monthly Archives: January 2007

More Good Reasons Why Technology and Media Literacy Should Be a Part of Every Education


Amidst the deluge of posts I’ve been trying to wade through in the past few days is this gem by Vicki Davis, “Spies Like Us“, in which she discusses the implications of evermore wireless and mobile technologies, and what schools should be doing to be better prepared for the influx of mobile devices. As Davis states, banning the devices is not the answer, as students will find ways around that, as the cell phone controversy in New York City has shown.

Davis proposes that schools:

  1. update acceptable use policies;
  2. come to an understanding that the new school hours are 24/7;
  3. understand the importance of technology education including ethics;
  4. understand that blocking doesn’t protect your school from the technology and its uses;
  5. understand that information does not travel in straight lines.

Very well said, and I would like to add the following:

   6.  understand that the new school “day” goes beyond the brick and mortar of the school building. School has become much more of a process than a place (to go along with #2).  This also has implications for school policies, because where do you draw the line as far as school authorities being able to interfere with what kids do outside of school? An excerpt of an article of mine that will be published in Innovate this spring:

Because the online world and new technologies are blurring boundaries between school and the rest of the world, educational institutions are debating where to draw the line when it comes to regulating student use of the Internet. Many schools now have policies that hold students responsible for their online actions outside of school, and more and more students are being punished for what they post on the Internet. For example, in North Carolina, a student was suspended for 10 days for posting an altered picture of his school’s assistant principal on MySpace (Student Press Law Center, 2005).


These developments have raised First Amendment and free speech issues for students. In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that high school students have First Amendment rights at school, but speech that “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others is … not immunized by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech,” with the burden of proof on schools (U.S. Supreme Court, 1969). School administrators now argue that the “substantial disruption” standard from the Tinker decision should apply to what students do outside of school, including online. Civil liberties attorneys have countered by saying that what students do and say outside of school should be the parents’ responsibility, and that schools are overstepping their boundaries, especially when students are critical of the schools they attend.

I wholeheartedly agree that blocking or banning is not the answer. Not only are those attempts futile ones in many cases, but we lose the opportunities that we have to teach students about the ethics of technology use, which, like Davis writes, is another critical component of a technology education for kids. In fact, many state and national standards include standards on ethics, for example ISTE’s:

  • Students understand the ethical, cultural, and societal issues related to technology.
  • Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software.
  • Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity. (ISTE, 2005).

In fact, in ISTE’s proposed new technology standards for students, as blogged about by Julie Lindsay, ethics will take on an even more prominent role, as part of a section called “Digital Citizenship”. And by the way, I agree with Julie in that the standards, including the ethical ones, should be given a more global “flavor”.


As I said, great post by Vicki Davis; as far as I’m concerned it should be required reading for all teachers, administrators, and parents (and kids too)…



Image Credit: “James Bond’s Little Nellie”, Elsie esq.’s photostream:

Mobile Learning Redefined, Part II


So many good conferences and workshops to go to, so little time and money 😦
Here is a another good one called Beyond Mobile Learning, held the past three days in Villars, Switzerland. I had seen the site, but forgot about it. My attention was drawn back to it as I ran across this post by Mauru Cherubini and thought back about my initial posting “Mobile Learning Redefined.” The main idea she picked up from the workshop is the interest in

using mobile technologies for shifting from being a ’spectator’ of media to ‘creator’ of media. One of the pedagogical value they see in these is the fact that media creation can bring a group of participant to a negotiation of perspectives.

This is right in line with the developments we’ve been seeing online in the last year or two, so nothing really, really new. However, I think that media sharing online will not get to its full potential until it can be easily done on the fly, anywhere, anytime; and most likely, you’ll need a mobile device for that. We’re seeing some inroads in being able to do so, but we still have a long way to go. The result of this development will be that learners not only create their own learning context, but also their own content within this context.

The emphasis on media creation is an important one for education. For example, I’m still not too convinced that an iPod is an effective learning tool, because too many of the uses and ideas I see in education have to do with content delivery.  Granted, content delivery can be useful, but should not be the only way in which an iPod is used. As discussed by several educational bloggers (like Jeff Utecht and Wes Fryer) with regards to a revamping of Bloom’s taxonomy as described on the website of the American Psychological Association, (media) creation should be at the top of the pyramid. And even then, we have to be careful in that what is created is not simple regurgitation of content learned, as discussed by Christian Long in his post “Is Podcasting the New PowerPointing, Or Will We Finally Teach that the Audience Matters?” After all, we want learners who can think and act for themselves, and who can create and tell their own stories; to quote Juliet Sprake from another one of Mauru Cherubini’s posts:

Do we want a gadget that can see through buildings or do we want learners that can find cracks in the concrete?

(via Leonard Low)

Image credit: “Concrete to the Sky”. Brian U’s photostream:

Intel Predicts a Ubiquitous Mobile Future


Interesting article I saw today on, entitled “Intel predicts massive changes.” Among the predictions:

1. Ubiquitous Mobility Will Become A Reality. With laptops already making up around a third of all PC sales, consumers and businesses alike are enjoying the convenience of mobile computing. As the performance, energy-efficiency and ease-of-use of portable devices continues to improve, people’s computing experience will increasingly be defined by what they are doing, not where they are doing it.

2. Carrying Broadband Internet With You. The coming year will see high-speed internet access move to the next level through mobile technologies such as WiMAX.

3. Technology: From Communication to Collaboration. Email, mobile phones and the internet were all about faster and easier communication. And they have had an amazing impact on our lives today. But we’re heading into a new realm as technology now allows us to enjoy a realistic experience through advanced multimedia communication. The results are more immediacy and spontaneity in our communication – making for a much better relationship-building tool – whether you are using video- or web-conferencing, for private or business use.

4. PC power inspires new usage models. Gaming, music and video downloads and streaming, imaging and all multimedia-related applications have become increasingly popular over the last few years.

Interesting predictions, although nothing really earth-shattering. What it does show is that there remains an emphasis on wireless and mobile computing. If technology develops on the scale that Intel predicts though, I think it will continue to push schools to either change or become more obsolete. Either way, the nature of learning will continue to change in that it will become  more:

  • augmented/enhanced/facilitated by digital tools;

  • participatory (with all sorts of implications for social studies education in such realms as civics education, global participation, activism, etc.);

  • equal, meaning that “underdeveloped” nations will begin to catch up because they are skipping the desktop/wired stage altogether in favor of wireless mobile devices, esp. cell phones. That this is already having an impact can be seen for example in Kenya, Venezuela, and the Philippines.

Hence the importance of new media literacy skills as I blogged about here.

(via HandheldLearning

Image credit: “Pimp my ride”. jurvetson’s photostream:

Update on Net Neutrality and the Importance of Saving the Internet

Click here

Technology Review has a nicely done update on the Net Neutrality issue, Net Neutrality: Far from a Done Deal,  by Wade Roush. According to the article,

the fight isn’t over. It’s still possible that certain types of tiered Internet access will emerge in the near future. That’s partly due to political and business realities: no bill is assured of passage in the still fractious 110th Congress, and AT&T’s concessions contain loopholes that allow the company to move forward with premium services such as U-Verse, which is all about extending fiber-optic fast lanes to customers’ homes. But the situation is also a consequence of the march of technology. New bandwidth-intensive applications such as YouTube-style video downloads and peer-to-peer file sharing are clogging the network so quickly, researchers say, that service providers may be forced to start charging more to carry certain types of data.

Obviously, ISPs have to be compensated for transmitting Internet data. HOWEVER, allowing ISPs to treat data from different sources in different ways is discriminatory, both against the data source, as well as its consumers. As many people have said before, the beauty of the Internet is that it’s neutral, and based on developments in technology, business practices, and politics, we need some kind of federal legislation to keep it that way. For current efforts in that realm, see

Why is net neutrality, “the principle that Internet operators should handle all the data they transport the same way, without special “fast lanes” open only to those who can afford them” (quoted from Net Neutrality: Far from a Done Deal) so important? There are several reasons:

  • By now the Internet is a primary source of information for many people, whether it be by way of desktop, laptop, or wireless mobile device. As discussed by Judy Breck in 109 ideas for virtual learning, the Internet is the place of a new knowledge ecology, a place where knowledge is accessed, aggregated, networked, and created. She advocates for open content, andthat education practice today does little more than toy with the emerging innovation of digital connectivity—when, in fact, a new knowledge ecology it causes will have to become central to global learning for education as an institution to remain relevant into the future. 

You may believe that education does not belong in the open chaos of the emerging Internet. But thinking that misses a wonderful new cognitive order of learning that emerges from the chaos of connected knowledge. Education should be right in there with the other major elements in the ubiquitous mix of the Web world. The openness of the content within the Internet is a change for learning that is as complete as the invention of phonetic symbols was for language. But that is getting ahead of our story.

Net neutrality is not just a geek thing; it’s a generation thing.  If we want to build a world where youth have a voice online, we have to keep the net neutral.  Hopefully, youth mean more to us than their consumer power.

Twice as many Americans used the internet as their primary source of news about the 2006 campaign compared with the most recent mid-term election in 2002.

Some 15% of all American adults say the internet was the place where they got most of their campaign news during the election, up from 7% in the mid-term election of 2002.

A post-election survey shows that the 2006 race also produced a notable class of online political activists. Some 23% of those who used the internet for political purposes – the people we call campaign internet users – actually created or forwarded online original political commentary or politically-related videos.

See also Micah Sifrey’s post on the Personal Democracy Forum about the report.  While the Internet is important for the political process in the US, it is even more important for continents like Africa and South America, where wireless mobile phones are increasingly used for political activism. See for example this article about mobile phone use and its impact in Kenya, or this piece on the use of SMS in Venezuela to get voters to the polls.

 Obviously, an open and neutral Internet in itself is not enough. The younger generations who are using this evermore participatory medium as their main source for information access, aggregation, creation, and sharing need to learn more than just technical skills to use it to its fullest potential. We all know that youngsters usually have no problems learning how to use a new digital tool. The key is to provide them with opportunities to learn what to use these tools for, other than entertainment.

According to the New Media Literacies Project, we need to train kids with skills for participatory culture. The NML’s essay discusses the current media landscape as innovative, transformative, convergent, multimodal, global, networked, mobile, appropriative, participatory, collaborative, diverse, domesticated, generational, and unequal. While kids are already participating by way of affiliation (think social networking sites), collaborative problem solving (gaming), and media sharing.

However, the NML Project essay sees this participation as being accompanied by several challenges:

Challenge 1: The Participation Gap — the unequal distribution of these opportunities to participate and thus the unequal distribution of the skills and knowledge which emerge from these practices.

Challenge 2: Ethics — The expansion of the public roles played by children and youth in this new participatory culture raises new responsibilities that they are often unprepared to accept and that are badly understood by the adults surrounding them. Each of these forms of participation represent both opportunities and risks.

Challenge 3: The Transparency Problem — While kids are getting better at using media as resources for doing other things (creative expression, research, social life, etc.), they often show limited ability to examine the media themselves, question the ways that they structure their experiences or shape their content, and the contexts in which they operate.

Challenge 4: Evaluation — Students, parents and teachers remain uncertain about how to
evaluate work produced using these new media and how it might connect with earlier forms of expression.

To overcome these challenges, the NML Project suggest a set of preliminary and a set of emerging skills that kids should acquire, and that this should happen through  multiple levels of intervention:

1. School based — designed to integrated into existing school disciplines
2. after-school programs — designed to expand creative opportunities for kids in a way which also emphasizes the cultural context and ethical consequences of those practices.
3. informal learning — collaboration with creative industries to insure that ideas about media literacy feed back into popular culture.
4. teacher training — designed to provide teachers with models for classroom practices which foster the new media literacies.
5. parents training — designed to give parents the knowledge and skills they need to foster media literacy in preschool children and to support the informal learning of their school aged offspring. 

What I really like about this approach is that the interventions go way beyond the space and time in which formal education takes place, and involves the education of parents! For another discussion of the New Media Literacy Project essay, see Christopher Sessum’s post Skills for 21st Century Learners: Preparing ourselves for participatory culture, in which he concludes that

In the end, The Project NML essay serves as a lesson in school reform that focuses on how educators should be thinking about literacy education, communication competencies, and schoolings impact on our collective citizenry — not simply academic achievement. Getting educators to adopt such a stance will take longer than most of us are comfortable with, but alas, it comes with the territory.

Image Credit:

Spotlight on Handheld Computing (Shameless Plug)


This month’s SIG Newsletter from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) contains a section about ISTE’s Special Interest Group on Handheld Computing (SIGHC). There are three short features provided by SIGHC members as well as an interview with its chair (and that would be me 🙂 ). An additional nine feature stories will be published in future SIGHC newsletters. They didn’t get included in the current SIG newsletter due to lack of space.

SIGHC is a fairly new group but a very active one. Many of the leaders in the handheld computing field can be counted among its members, including Tony Vincent, Elliot Soloway, Cathie Norris, Mike Curtis, Graham Brown-Martin, and Julie Lindsay. Even though the name of the SIG implies handhelds, we are an organization that is interested in any type of highly mobile device, including cell phones, media players, and handheld computers.

We’ll have a variety of SIGHC-sponsored sessions at NECC 2007 in Atlanta, as well as our regular business meeting. We are also co-hosting the 1st Annual Leadership Summit for Learning Technology Research, Development, and Dissemination (more info on that to follow). If you’re interested, come check us out!

Too Much of a Good Thing, Part II


As a follow up to some of the negative side effects of the Internet explosion in China I wrote about last year, here is a story that was posted to the CNN technology section yesterday:

China: 2 Million Teens Hooked on the Web

BEIJING, China (Reuters) — Chinese teenagers are getting addicted to the Internet and taking to crime at a younger age than in any other country, state media reported on Wednesday.

Of China’s 18.3 million teen Internet users, more than 2 million were addicts, with “good kids who impress their parents and teachers” the most vulnerable to the affliction, the China Daily said, citing a study by the Communist Youth League.

“Internet addicts in China are as many as 10 years younger than those in the West. They are more susceptible,” the daily quoted Gao Wenbin, a psychology researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a top government think tank, as saying.

One of the main reason that’s given in the article as to why so many young people become addicted is “a lack of diversions at schools”, which makes me wonder what “diversions” would be needed to help curb the Internet addiction problem. China definitely has some catching up to do when it comes to providing technology for teaching and learning in schools, but even once that happens, they’ll still need to develop ways to teach kids to use technology in meaningful, ethical, and safe ways. Not too much different from other parts of the world where the technology is readily available for learning…

Image credit: “Internet Cafe”. draq’s photostream:

Reflections and Top Posts for 2006


As many other people are doing, I started looking back at the posts I’ve written since I started my blog in May 2006. It’s always interesting to see how your work progresses over time, and I was a little surprised about the quality of some of my earlier posts (they seemed so much better when I wrote them). 2006 was the first year in which I started to seriously examine the blogosphere, and one way in which I did so was by creating my own blog. Here are a few observations about getting into the mix:

  • Blogging is difficult, especially if you want to do it well and on a regular basis. I’ve learned that it is better to blog when you have something to say than to blog because you haven’t posted in a while (i.e. blogging on a daily basis, or extreme blogging as Will Richardson calls it, is pretty much an impossibility for me);
  • Like many other things, you can’t understand what it takes to blog until you actually do it for a while;
  • Blogging is more about process than product;
  • I usually get an idea for a blog from something I’ve read or seen online;
  • When I blog, I tend to spend a lot of time reading other blogs and news sources while writing;
  • Because of blogging and feedreaders, I’ve started reading more, and more digital resources; I’ve also had to rethink how I deal with the flood of information that is out there;
  • Related to this is the fact that Web 2.0 tools are enabling everybody to create content, so besides dealing with quantity, I’ve had to be more scrupulous when looking for quality.
  • The way in which I write (and think) has become less linear than it already was (see also this post by Chris Bowers);
  • My writing has matured because I’m writing more and for a wider audience;
  • I’ve started using other Internet-based tools such as tagging and media-sharing sites.

Note btw that a lot of these bullet points are important ones to think about for education when considering the value of blogging for teaching and learning.

And now…..

My top posts for 2006 (in no particular order):

Mobile Learning Redefined (Nov. 28)

Cell Phones in Schools, Part II (Oct. 17)

We All Need Perspective  (Sept. 7)

High Tech, High Touch (Aug. 15)

I really tried to limit myself to what I thought were the most important posts without forcing myself to create a Top 5 or Top 10.

Image credit: “Reflection on a Building”, Takanawho’s photostream,