Category Archives: Information Literacy

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. SavetheInternet.com 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: http://www.savetheinternet.com

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NCSS San Diego, Saturday Sessions on Data Literacy

 

I attended a variety of sessions today at the NCSS Conference. This entry deals with two sessions on using data for teaching and learning in Social Studies. I was going to attend a third one on teaching about water scarcity, but unfortunately that one was canceled.

Using technology to teach geography and econmics:

Session on the use of GeoFRED, a customizable set of economic data provided by the Federal Reserve in St. Louis. This seems to be a very nice information source that is customizable in many different ways. There is also a set of lesson plans on the website itself.

geofred.jpg

One of the activities the presenters demonstrated was how unemployment rates are calculated, by first eliminating those under sixteen and those who are not currently seeking work, and then calculating unemployment for those who are left.

Federal Reserve System Beige Book: descriptions of economic data by region in text. Can compare this to the maps. Then students can write about this.

You can also look at years over a long period of time, going back to 1976.

I think the GeoFRED tool is a good example of a data visualization tool. It is also useful in that you can customize the maps in many different ways, and look at data from national, state, and county perspectives.

Using data to teach higher order thinking in American History

Basically a discussion about using data to look at American History. The presenter talked about using higher order thinking skills. It’s more about making an effort to come up with an answer and back it up with evidence from data than right or wrong answers. He used economic trends from the 1800s as an example (comparing data from 1815 and 1860).

It’s also about time. It takes time to learn the skills you need to analyze data and make sense of the numbers. The presenter referred to this as “active” history.

It’s also about not just teaching content, but also teaching skills. Too often we assume students have skills that they really don’t have. This is pretty sad, as these are often skills they should have learned already in lower grades.

Image Credit: National Council for the Social Studies: http://www.socialstudies.org/conference/

Net Neutrality Debate Still Far From Over

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As an update on my previous post on the fight over net neutrality, here is an article from MSNBC that discusses how Comcast has been blocking some Internet traffic on its networks. According to the article by Peter Svensson:

Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally.

The interference, which The Associated Press confirmed through nationwide tests, is the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a U.S. Internet service provider. It involves company computers masquerading as those of its users.

If widely applied by other ISPs, the technology Comcast is using would be a crippling blow to the BitTorrent, eDonkey and Gnutella file-sharing networks. While these are mainly known as sources of copyright music, software and movies, BitTorrent in particular is emerging as a legitimate tool for quickly disseminating legal content.

While the article mostly discusses the issue of blocking content in general, especially with regards to file-sharing, an interesting question remains how this type of practice can potentially affect education, both formal and informal.

There is also a lively discussion about the Comcast practice, which can be found here. Most posts seem to oppose Comcast’s practices.

Image Credit: http://www.savetheinternet.com

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.

Update on Net Neutrality: The Fight Is Far from Over

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As I’ve written about before, the fight about net neutrality is far from over. According to Robert Niles, editor of the Online Journalism Review of the Annenberg School of Communication at USC, “It’s up to Congress now to protect net neutrality.” He states that:

Today, the United States Justice Department came out against “Net Neutrality,” endorsing the concept of allowing telecom companies to decide which websites and online services it will allow its customers to access, and at what speeds. The U.S. Congress must respond swiftly, by enacting legislation to preserve net neutrality and protect the interests of small publishers and private citizens.

Niles’ post is definitely worth a thorough reading, as well as the Justice Department’s press release. I agree with Niles that the Internet has made possible

the explosion in people-powered media over the past decade, which was made possible by the unprecedented ability of individuals, anywhere, to publish to a global platform, on an equal footing with corporate media.

It’s funny that this story should rear its head again, considering some of the things I’ve been working on lately.  First off, I spent three days at Purdue at the end of July, at the Ackerman Colloquium themed “Educating for Citizenship in Digital and Synthetic Worlds: Privacy, Protection, and Participation.” It’s funny though that we didn’t talk much about issues such as net neutrality though. A large part of the conversation seemed to revolve around the use of games for teaching social studies, which is something I’m not entirely convinced of (yet).

Secondly, I’ve spent the last three weeks or so working on an NSF-funded project called Thinking With Data, a project designed to teach middle school kids data literacy across the curriculum (see NSF, this newspaper article  and this press release for more info). It’s an important project because, to quote  Andee Rubin from TERC:

We use data every day—to choose medications or health practices, to decide on a place to live, or to make judgments about education policy and practice. The newspapers and TV news are full of data about nutrition, side effects of popular drugs, and polls for current elections. Surely there is valuable information here, but how do you judge the reliability of what you read, see, or hear?  This is no trivial skill—and we are not preparing students to make these critical and subtle distinctions.

What I’ve learned from our project so far is that, on average, kids’ data literacy skills are not very strong, and having an Internet that is not “neutral” will make matters only worse when it comes to teach youngsters how to judge data for what it’s really worth.

Feels good to be back. I can’t believe I haven’t blogged in almost two months. I have been lurking off and on though, and while I did take some time off, I worked most of the summer. Not sure yet how I’m going to get caught up with all of my feeds. I’m planning to focus my writing in the coming year on a couple of topics that have been of great interest to me: learning while mobile/mobile learning, and citizenship education and digital tools.

Image Credit: http://www.savetheinternet.com

K12 Online Conference: Call for Proposals

K-12 Online

Announcing the second annual “K12 Online” conference for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice! This year’s conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, October 15-19 and October 22-26 of 2007, and will include a preconference keynote during the week of October 8. This years conference theme is “Playing with Boundaries.” A call for proposals is below.

OVERVIEW:
There will be four “conference strands”– two each week. Two presentations will be published in each strand each day, Monday – Friday, so four new presentations will be available each day over the course of the two-weeks. Each presentation will be given in any of a variety of downloadable, web based formats and released via the conference blog (www.k12onlineconference.org) and archived for posterity.

FOUR STRANDS:
Week 1
Strand A: Classroom 2.0
Leveraging the power of free online tools in an open, collaborative and transparent atmosphere characterises teaching and learning in the 21st century. Teachers and students are contributing to the growing global knowledge commons by publishing their work online. By sharing all stages of their learning students are beginning to appreciate the value of life long learning that inheres in work that is in “perpetual beta.” This strand will explore how teachers and students are playing with the boundaries between instructors, learners and classrooms. Presentations will also explore the practical pedagogical uses of online social tools (Web 2.0) giving concrete examples of how teachers are using the tools in their classes.

Strand B: New Tools
Focusing on free tools, what are the “nuts and bolts” of using specific new social media and collaborative tools for learning? This strand includes two parts. Basic training is “how to” information on tool use in an educational setting, especially for newcomers. Advanced training is for teachers interested in new tools for learning, looking for advanced technology training, seeking ideas for mashing tools together, and interested in web 2.0 assessment tools. As educators and students of all ages push the boundaries of learning, what are the specific steps for using new tools most effectively? Where “Classroom 2.0″ presentations will focus on instructional uses and examples of web 2.0 tool use, “New Tools” presentations should focus on “nuts and bolts” instructions for using tools. Five “basic” and five “advanced” presentations will be included in this strand.

Week 2
Strand A: Professional Learning Networks
Research says that professional development is most effective when it aims to create professional learning communities — places where teachers learn and work together. Using Web 2.0 tools educators can network with others around the globe extending traditional boundaries of ongoing, learner centered professional development and support. Presentations in this strand will include tips, ideas and resources on how to orchestrate your own professional development online; concrete examples of how the tools that support Professional Learning Environments (PLEs) are being used; how to create a supportive, reflective virtual learning community around school-based goals, and trends toward teacher directed personal learning environments.

Strand B: Obstacles to Opportunities
Boundaries formalized by education in the “industrial age” shouldn’t hinder educators as they seek to reform and transform their classroom practice. Playing with boundaries in the areas of copyright, digital discipline and ethics (e.g. cyberbullying), collaborating globally (e.g. cultural differences, synchronous communication), resistance to change (e.g. administration, teachers, students), school culture (e.g. high stakes testing), time (e.g. in curriculum, teacher day), lack of access to tools/computers, filtering, parental/district concerns for online safety, control (e.g. teacher control of student behavior/learning), solutions for IT collaboration and more — unearthing opportunities from the obstacles rooted in those boundaries — is the focus of presentations in this strand.

CALL FOR PROPOSALS:
This call encourages all, experienced and novice, to submit proposals to present at this conference via this link. Take this opportunity to share your successes, strategies, and tips in “playing with boundaries” in one of the four strands as described above.

Deadline for proposal submissions is June 18, 2007. You will be contacted no later than June 30, 2007 regarding your status.

Presentations may be delivered in any web-based medium that is downloadable (including but not limited to podcasts, screencasts, slide shows) and is due one week prior to the date it is published.

Please note that all presentations will be licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

As you draft your proposal, you may wish to consider the presentation topics listed below which were suggested in the comments on the K-12 Online Conference Blog:

  • special needs education
  • Creative Commons
  • Second Life
  • podcasting
  • iPods
  • video games in education
  • specific ideas, tips, mini lessons centered on pedagogical use of web 2.0 tools
  • overcoming institutional inertia and resistance
  • aligning Web 2.0 and other projects to national standards
  • getting your message across
  • how web 2.0 can assist those with disabilities
  • ePortfolios
  • classroom 2.0 activities at the elementary level
  • creating video for TeacherTube and YouTube
  • google docs
  • teacher/peer collaboration

KEYNOTES:
The first presentation in each strand will kick off with a keynote by a well known educator who is distinguished and knowledgeable in the context of their strand. Keynoters will be announced shortly.

CONVENERS:
This year’s conveners are:

Darren Kuropatwa is currently Department Head of Mathematics at Daniel Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is known internationally for his ability to weave the use of online social tools meaningfully and concretely into his pedagogical practice and for “child safe” blogging practices. He has more than 20 years experience in both formal and informal education and 13 years experience in team building and leadership training. Darren has been facilitating workshops for educators in groups of 4 to 300 for the last 10 years. Darren’s professional blog is called A Difference (http://adifference.blogspot.com). He will convene Classroom 2.0.

Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach, a 20-year educator, has been a classroom teacher, charter school principal, district administrator, and digital learning consultant. She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member teaching graduate and undergraduate preservice teachers at The College of William and Mary (Virginia, USA), where she is also completing her doctorate in educational planning, policy and leadership. In addition, Sheryl is co-leading a statewide 21st Century Skills initiative in the state of Alabama, funded by a major grant from the Microsoft Partners in Learning program. Sheryl blogs at (http://21stcenturylearning.typepad.com/blog/). She will convene Preconference Discussions and Personal Learning Networks.

Wesley Fryer is an educator, author, digital storyteller and change agent. With respect to school change, he describes himself as a “catalyst for creative educational engagement.” His blog, “Moving at the Speed of Creativity” was selected as the 2006 “Best Learning Theory Blog” by eSchoolnews and Discovery Education. He is the Director of Education Advocacy (PK-20) for AT&T in the state of Oklahoma. Wes blogs at (www.speedofcreativity.org). Wes will convene New Tools.

Lani Ritter Hall currently contracts as an instructional designer for online professional development for Ohio teachers and online student courses with eTech Ohio. She is a National Board Certified Teacher who served in many capacities during her 35 years as a classroom and resource teacher in Ohio and Canada. Lani blogs at (http://possibilitiesabound.blogspot.com). Lani will convene Obstacles to Opportunities.

QUESTIONS?
If you have any questions about any part of this, email one of us:
Darren Kuropatwa: dkuropatwa {at} gmail {dot} com
Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach: snbeach {at} cox {dot} net
Lani Ritter Hall: lanihall {at} alltel {dot} net
Wesley Fryer: wesfryer {at} pobox {dot} com

Please duplicate this post and distribute it far and wide across the blogosphere. Feel free to republish it on your own blog (actually, we’d really like people to do that ;-) ) or link back to this post (published simultaneously on all our blogs).

Conference Tag: K12online07

Why communication is important…

 purpura.jpg

Found this story via Darren Kuropatwa’s blog. It’s called “Safety v. Panic“, a powerful, personal experience about what can go wrong with the use of technology for teaching and learning when people don’t communicate. I fully agree with Darren’s comments that

Maybe if everybody tried talking to each other before they started pointing fingers they might learn from each other, understand each other better, figure out a way to meet everyone’s needs better and maybe, just maybe, the kids would have really learned something … and it would have stuck.

This is exactly the stuff I wrote about in my recent Innovate article (free registration required) on building relationships with technology and kids, but on a much broader scale. It’s easy to point fingers, ban, sue, and punish. This type of attitude also takes up a lot of valuable resources (time, money….) that would be better spent on, say … educating?

Read the original post and the comments, read Darren’s comments, and let me know what you think …

Image Credit: “Purpura”, Danella manera’s photostream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/143760074/