Category Archives: citizen journalism

Net Neutrality Debate Still Far From Over, and the Saga Continues

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Even though I’ve been writing mostly on mobile devices and learning as of late, the Net Neutrality issue is one that continues to be just as important (and connected to mobile as well, with the current push toward developing the mobile web further. posted a guest piece by John Kerry yesterday asking for feedback about Net Neutrality. And feedback he got!! It’s actually more interesting to read than the post itself. There were 101 responses as of the writing of this post.

In short, people who commented on Kerry’s post unanimously support Net Neutrality and condemn the big ISPs such as Comcast. Their comments can be roughly sorted into the following categories:

  • Protection of people’s rights such as freedom of speech against government and big corporate interests. According to Dale: The brilliance of the internet is that it provides everyone with an equal voice, an equal chance to be heard. To excel, to fail and to try again. To express alternate views in a world dominated by big commercial interests or repressive/regressive governments. To allow anyone to control this medium for purely commercial gain it, is to silence the voices we may most need to hear. Read also DynamicUno’s comments.
  • Protection of small businesses: for example, Internetman states that I am a small business owner of an internet-based travel business. My wife and I rely exclusively on our websites for income. Because of network neutrality, we are able to compete for business with such giants as Microsoft’s Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz and make a very good living. If network neutrality was removed, our entire livelihood would be destroyed. I can’t afford to pay any premiums just to put my business on the same level playing field as these internet titans, I would have no option but to fold my business.
  • Curbing big ISP abuses against customers and small ISPs: As cookseytalbott states: look at their behavior, censoring email from political sites, throttling applications like bittorrent, not fixing the golden mile, breech of privacy agreements for government domestic spying, not tending to massive bot nets on infected PC’s on their networks, random blacklisting of IP’s.

While education is mentioned here and there, mainly with regards to access to information for research and learning, it is not mentioned much. Imagine what could/would happen if government allowed the telcos (in this case Comcast and SBC) to basically control all Internet traffic. It is analogous to the ways in which governments and churches controlled society in the Middle Ages, by controlling the education of its people. Few people learned to read and write, and what they learned was determined mostly by the church, backed by the government. It wasn’t until the printing press (the Internet of the Middle Ages) was invented that things started to change, and many in power feared that the printing press would ultimately put them out of business. 

A free and unregulated Internet is a necessity for a democracy to work in today’s world. A democracy needs people who can think, be creative, have access to information that covers more than one point of view, and can express their opinions without the fear of being silenced by those in power who happen to disagree.

In any event, Net Neutrality is and remains an extremely important issue that seems to be disregarded by most major media outlets (I wonder why….). And as Crystal states in her comments:

If the internet does not remain free, you can change the Pledge of Allegiance to this

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Corporations of America and to the profits for which they stand, two nations, divided, with plenty for the favored few and slavery for the rest of us.”

A free people need education and information in order to act intelligently.

Please post your feedback here or with, even better, Kerry’s post.

Image Credit:

Carnival of the Mobilists #109 Is Super!!


Carnival #109 is now available at WAP Review…

Image Credit: Carnival of the Mobilists, Logo:

Handheld Learning 2007, Day 1, Reflections on Pedagogy, John Traxler

Fourth presentation: John Traxler: Society, Technology, Education, and Learning Heading Towards 2012.

Technology predictions should be the easy part of 2012 (linearity, extrapolation?).

Idea of convergence, will it happen, or will we see divergence, e.g. the PSP or iPod? Is it an issue of personal preference? (interesting thought and I think he’s probably got a point. While some technology may be converging , like smart phones, many very popular devices are purposely not).
Technological trends:
• Miniaturization , virtual keyboards, etc.
• Pervasive computing, like the Internet-enabled fridge.
• Wearable computing
So is technology really the issue for education? Or is it economic activity, spiritual use of mobiles, etc. that will have an impact on education? Technology is important and it’s moving, but there are lots of other changes in our society that have a direct instrumental impact on teaching and learning, and the curriculum (my question is: so why isn’t the curriculum changing then??).
Are we creating a different kind of virtual community? A new kind of accessing and generating knowledge, e.g. citizen journalism? If so, what are the implications for education?

Literature on the sociology of mobility. What exactly does this mean? What impact is it having on society, schools, teaching and learning? How is it affecting emotional, f2f relationships, concepts of time and space, mobiles as creating perpetual contact?

Communication-surveillance-education??? Are the three somehow related?? (This is a very interesting question. With all the communication and networking tools we’ve got today, pervasive surveillance is not that far off, in many places it already exists (think traffic and security cameras, of which there are plenty in the Westminster area in London, where this conference is being held). Where does education fit into this picture?)

Changes to knowledge: access to information/data/knowledge …
• is easy and convenient (but structured/chunked and consumed differently)
• anytime, anywere
• just-in-time, just-for-me
 Example: wapedia
Diagram by Tom Brown, University of Pretoria: what’s beyond constructivism? (see this paper, for more info, the diagram is on p. 14). Are we going from knowledge adoption to creation to navigation?? (or connectivism, as some call it). Traxler thinks that this is not happening (yet), because of the still existing contrast between learning in static environments (formal education) v. increasingly mobile society.

Carnival of the Mobilists #93, and the Power of Mobile

Just in time for me to read before heading over to Europe is this week’s Carnival of the Mobilists (#93), hosted by Communities Dominate Brands. My favorite post of this week’s Carnival is probably the one about the use of cell phones in Myanmar/Burma, to record the civil unrest that has been taking place. This event is also an illustration of once again, the powerful roll that mobile phones can play as a medium to not only report news as it happens (see also this account on SmartMobs), but also to rally large groups of people for a cause. As a Reuters article from Sept 24 states (as quoted in the MobileActive Blog),

the military generals are “caught in a rare dilemma,” exacerbated by the presence of mobile phones:

They can either come down hard on the Buddhist monks leading the protests — and risk turning pockets of dissent into nationwide outrage as reports and grainy mobile phone images of revered, maroon-robed men and boys being beaten up leak out. Or they can give them a free rein to march round a few cities and towns — and risk the movement spreading across the country, and into other social groups, such as the students or civil servants, the other key players in the 1988 uprising.

More info on the issue of using mobile phones in the Burma/Myanmar protests can be found in this MobileActive post, with links to other sources as well.

Obviously, this situation is very similar to the protest in the Phillipines as described by Rheingold in Smart Mobs (see also here). Both are examples of the potential power of mobile phones as a medium to share information and take action, as described by David Cushman:

Now the media (the power to move minds) is in everyone’s hands – Literally with a mobile phone.
So, as the Burmese people shoot video of what’s happening – and share it with each other and the world – does this bring true power to the people? Knowledge is power – information shared is power growing exponentially. … The Burmese are sharing their problem with the world. But, like all communities of purpose, if we aren’t prepared to respond, in real time, then all their sharing is for nothing.
Share the problem. Defeat it.

The important question for me is though, are we truly preparing our students for a world in which information is often shared virally, and actions are based on this information, actions that can have far-reaching consequences? Are students, in the words of Cushman, prepared to respond in real time?

Image Credit: Carnival of the Mobilists, Logo:

Some Thoughts about Mobile Learning/Learning while Mobile

 As I’m preparing my presentations for Handheld Learning 2007, I’ve been reading and thinking quite a bit about mobile learning/learning while mobile in a variety of learning contexts. One idea that I keep getting back to is that the use of mobile technologies or using digital tools while mobile is just as much about creating and sharing content as it is about consuming it. What really hammered this idea home was a post by Elliot Masie on Learning TRENDS about cell phone use in the London bombings on 7/7/05. In this post, he discusses the characteristics of the low quality videos that appeared online as events were unfolding that made them so worthwhile for viewers (including law enforcement):

* Velocity – How rapidly could the content be captured and shared.
* Scalability – How many “reporters” are created when you expand the sources of content.
* Intensity – In many ways, the video captured on the video phone was way more intense to watch, including the physical reactions of the people holding the phones.
* Context Rich – The content had huge context implications, as it came from people in the midst of a situation. Multiple video phones provided multiple views of the same incidents.

These same characteristics could be applied to the use of mobile technologies for learning:

  • Velocity: the speed in which content is captured and shared for purposes of learning.
  • Scalability: more creators of content means more and potentially richer content. It also means that everybody is a teacher AND a learner.
  • Intensity: what is captured and shared is more real to the consumer/learner, in part because it can be provided in a variety of media formats. A picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth …
  • Context rich: a variety of viewpoints on a particular topic. This is an important issue when considering that educational institutions have a moral obligation to teach their students how to become active, informed, and critically engaged citizens who can acquire, evaluate, and synthesize information from different sources and can make reasonable decisions based on the information provided.

A good example of how these characteristics can be applied in a learning context and how mobile tools can provide the context for discussion of a topic such as freedom of speech is the tasering of a student at a recent speaking engagement by John Kerry at the University of Florida. A quick search on YouTube turned up a variety of videos of the event, containing either raw or edited footage and a videotaped reaction of the university president at a press conference. A substantial amount of the footage was uploaded immediately following the incident (velocity), by a number of different people (scalability). The raw footage of the event is probably most intense, as it shows what happens, as well as various people recording the event (and their reactions). The edited footage, the university president’s press conference, news clips, AND ABOVE ALL the plethora of  video comments and written ones attached to each video illustrate the potential for context richness.

Obviously, applying the four characteristics of mobile device use to learning also raises some important and not-so-easy-to-answer questions:

  • How much content is too much?
  • What about quality control of content?
  • Who decides what is good/useful/worthwhile?
  • What is the best way to learn the additional skills learners will need to deal with this different kind of content?
  • When should they be learned?
  • What happens to the learning process in general, and as a result, to institutionalized education?

Lots to think about, and I haven’t quite gotten the answers yet….

Image Credit: “1000 mobiles”, Gaetan Lee’s photostream:

Preparing to Attend Handheld Learning 2007, or the Wild, Wacky, Wireless, and Wonderful World of Mobile Learning

Handheld Learning 2007

I can’t believe I’ll be at the Handheld Learning conference in London in only a few short weeks. Besides having an opportunity to make the quick jump from London to Amsterdam to visit relatives before the conference, I’m really looking forward to the event itself, as it has gotten quite the reputation.

I will be doing two presentations while I’m there, fitting them in with this year’s theme of Learning while Mobile. They are described below. The full program is on the conference site. If you’d like to attend the Handheld Learning conference, register before it is sold out (like last year). Discount codes can be found at Tony Vincent’s Learning in Hand and the moblearn blog.

How to Create 21st Century Learners:

How do we create 21st century learners? This is a complex question that is puzzling educators across the world. As we all know, society has been changing in faster and more complex ways than ever before. Knowledge is growing at exponential rates, digital tools we use are constantly changing, the nature of family and community are in flux, markets are shifting, and institutions constantly have to reinvent themselves.

We are now preparing children for a world that will have jobs that don’t exist yet, tools that haven’t been invented yet, and problems we don’t know are problems yet. The distinction between the physical and digital is becoming increasingly blurred as well.

What should learning in such an unpredictable environment look like? This presentation will provide a brief glimpse of what the not-so-distant future of education might bring, including increased personalization and customization, learning in context, networking, and of course, the role of digital technologies.

Related links: (Map of Future Forces Affecting Education)

Citizen Journalism

In November 2004, Dutch film maker  Theo van Gogh’s body was captured by a passer-by on a mobile phone minutes after he was murdered. The picture appeared on the pages of the Telegraaf, a daily Amsterdam newspaper, and made the news globally. The next month, images n(see e.g. here and here) and videos of the Asian tsunami were available on the Internet within minutes of the waves crashing ashore. When bombs exploded in London’s public transportation in July 2005, citizen reporters were on the scene before the major news networks got there. Almost immediately following the explosions, commuters in the Underground uploaded pictures and video to the Internet, using their mobile phones to capture and transmit the events as they were unfolding.

News reporting as we used to know it is changing. Younger generations are turning away from traditional media outlets in ever-increasing numbers, and instead are using mobile and networked technologies and web-based tools to collaboratively (re)create, analyze, share, and digest what is happening in their world. A new generation of digital storytellers and citizen journalists has emerged, blurring the boundaries between producers and consumers of news.

This session will focus on the implications for education of this trend, including the need to prepare students to actively and critically partake in an evermore global, digital, and participatory culture; an increasing responsibility to teach and learn about how to deal with the massive amounts of information that are literally at our fingertips; and emerging ethical issues such as copyright, privacy versus the right to know, and honesty in editing online content.
It is funny how when we try to predict the future we often end up looking back. In the case of reporting the news, there are strong indications that we may return to a time when storytelling and pamphleteering were vital ways of sharing information and passing it from generation to generation. The only difference is that this time, storytelling will no longer be oral and local, but digital and global.

Related links: (Gillmor’s We the media; the Media Center’s Synapse on the future of news; Annandale’s article in the Thunderbird; and many, many more).

Image Credit: Handheld Learning Conference Logo: