Category Archives: Media Literacy

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

Click here

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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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…

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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/

Pay Attention!

stopsign 

Following Karl Fisch’s series of presentations that have fostered a lot of discussion (see e.g. Karl’s blog), Darren Draper ( Technology Curriculum Specialist in the Jordan School District in Utah) has come up with “Pay Attention” and an accompanying list of resources. Much has already been written about this video, as it has circulated on the web for about a month now (that tells you how far behind in my reading I am!).

Karl Fisch calls it a “conversation starter”, Vicki Davis calls it “powerful and amazing”, etc., etc.

The thing that really caught my eye were a couple of very small parts of the presentation, namely student comments:

We have learned to ‘play school’. We study the right facts the night before the test so we achieve a passing grade and thus become a successful student. 

I’m not attention deficit, I’m just not listening (and we wonder why!!)

When I go to school I have to power down.

I really like this last one as it speaks volumes about what kids are capable of and what we do with them in formal educational settings. Kids want to learn, kids love technology and it’s an essential part of their lives (another student quote from the video: “When you lose your mobile, you lose part of your brain”).  How hard is it to put the two together? Or to put it in Darren’s words, Since most of today’s students can appropriately be labeled as “Digital Learners”, why do so many teachers refuse to enter the digital age with their teaching practices?

I think a lot of it still has to do with issues of control and fear, as I’ve discussed in my recent Innovate article (open content, but free registration required), David Warlick talked about in his post “Fear & Death! Fear & Death!”, and is a focus of danah boyd’s research. I will be hosting a webcast on this very subject on May 8, 2007, 12 PM EST. If you’d like to talk about this some, please join me then.

Image Credit: “Warning! New Stop Sign Ahead”. laffy4k’s photostream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/laffy4k/206251599/

4-16-2007 continued

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Just a couple of additional sources that shed additional light on the role of new media sources in the coverage of major news events, and the ways in which news reporting is changing. Paul Bradshaw writes in a short but interesting post in his Online Journalism Blog that

Unlike previous user generated content milestones like 9/11 and the Asian tsunami, this story took place in the heart of the new media generation, and the resulting coverage is more comprehensive, more accessible, and takes in more new media forms, including social networking.

Via this same blog, I came across this post on Poynter Online, which provides an interesting collection of “user-generated content” of the Virginia Tech tragedy, from a journalistic point of view. Lots of interesting stuff; and like Bradshaw says in his post, roles are changing:

1) the need to develop the awareness of, and skills to find, this material; 2) in the face of such comprehensive and accessible first-person reporting, the need to develop new roles, perhaps as gatewatchers, facilitators and filters rather than reporters.

And by the way, this doesn’t hold true just for journalists ….

Image credit: “One Day Blog Silence”, David Leggett’s photostream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/theleggett/463068884/

4-16-2007

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What happened yesterday at Virginia Tech University is awful beyond belief, and I’m sure the event will be analyzed out the wazoo by the U.S. and global news media. When I started to follow the story (not really until sometime last night), I started drawing parallels to a similar event that happened at the University of Iowa on November 1, 1991. I lived mere blocks from where that shooting happened and was home at the time of the event.

In 1991, we learned about the event from the local television stations, and a more in-depth write-up appeared in a special edition of the university’s newspaper the next morning. Compared to the deluge of information that will come from the Virginia Tech campus and beyond within the next weeks, the amount of information released immediately following the 1991 shooting was fairly small (even the wikipedia entry for the Virginia Tech shootings is already larger than the one for the University of Iowa shooting).

Anyway, I won’t dwell on the facts too much here, as plenty has already been written and will be written by the major news outlets such as CNN and MSNBC. However, what is interesting is that had this event taken place before the advent of the Internet like the shooting in Iowa City, my information sources (and therefore my take on the tragic events as they unfolded in Blacksburg) would have been very different. I didn’t really watch TV news channels yesterday. In fact, I picked up on the story via a few different blogs in my Feedreader. After a cursory look at the headlines on MSNBC, I got quite a bit of information (and links to a variety of other sources) from this post on Boing Boing, which led me to images on flickr here and here. I also found some videos on YouTube. In addition, quite a bit had already been written in the edublogger community by the likes of Anne Davis, Vicki Davis, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and Wes Fryer.

What struck me is that pretty much everybody who mentioned the event mentioned the wikipedia entry. Wes made an interesting observation:

From an information literacy perspective, following the comments on the history page of the WikiPedia entry for this incident is illuminating. What are the authors discussing and commenting on?
– What is the reference for that?
– Are included details and links relevant to this situation?
– Is accurate language being used, or are unwarranted exaggerations being made?

These types of discussions about information posted online and its accuracy are extremely important skills for our students to master, as it is easy to just believe what’s posted online because it is online. There’s an obvious danger in this kind of blind faith, and it surfaces even in tragic situations like this one, as this follow-up story from Boing Boing shows. An excerpt:

Blogs and online discussions yesterday misidentified 23-year-old Wayne Chiang (above), a VA Tech student with a penchant for guns, South Park, and bummed-out blog entries, as the shooter responsible for the VA Tech massacre.

Mr. Chiang’s “wanusmaximus” livejournal (“Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.”) and Facebook profile include many photos of heavy weapons, and vanity shots of him posing with quantities of those weapons.

Mr. Chiang is Asian-American, and early reports indicate the VA Tech shooter was, too — which added to many internet accusers’ certainty that he was the killer, even though investigators still have not disclosed the name of the actual VA Tech murderer.

Comment fields on Chiang’s site soon filled with racist lines like “so u are the asisan that shot up the school. i hate u and your people.”

But, news alert: lots of LJs look like Chiang’s. Gloomy web poetry and a gun hobby don’t prove a dude is a mass murderer. After dozens of “j’accuse!” blog posts linked to his journal like so many pointed fingers, Chiang finally posted an update late last night:

Coming out. I am not the shooter. Through this experience, I have received numerous death threats, slanderous accusations, and my phone is out of charge from the barrage of calls. Local police have been notified of the situation.

As I’ve discussed before on this blog, the nature of news production and consumption is changing (see e.g. this post on SmartMobs), and major news events such as the tragedy at Virginia Tech are prime examples. What it means for education is that we need to seriously rethink how we teach our children to examine news, showing them the importance of not only accessing information, but carefully analyzing it, juxtaposing different points of view, and trying to construct the most accurate and comprehensive story from a large number of very different sources.

As for all of you at VT who have been affected by the shootings, know that my prayers are with you…

Image Credit: “Prayers for Virginia Tech”, from busiguy6’s photstream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/busiguy6/461741757/in/pool-va-tech-shooting/

Information Literacy, Part II

switchboard.jpg

The recent IDC white paper, “The Expanding Digital Universe” provides some interesting numbers on digital information, as well as some prediction through 2010.  A few examples:

  •  In 2006, the amount of digital information created, captured, and replicated was 161 exabytes (or 161 billion gigabytes, which numerically would be 161,000,000,000 GIGAbytes).
  • Between 2006 and 2010, the digital information added annually will increase sixfold from 161 to 988 exabytes.
  • Digital images comprise the largest component of the digital universe, captured by over 1 billion devices.
  • By 2010, 70% of the digital universe will be created by INDIVIDUALS.
  • In 2007, the amount of information created will surpass, for the first time, the amount of storage capacity available.
  • Growth of the digital universe is uneven, with emerging economies slowly catching up to established ones such as Japan, the US, and western Europe.

The Web Worker Daily Blog provides some interesting comments on the IDC’s predictions in a post called “Information and the web worker“, for example that

2007 is the year that our ability to stuff bits into the digital universe will outstrip our ability to store them. By 2010, the total amount of data will overwhelm the total amount of digital storage by a factor of nearly two to one. Whether it’s that e-mail offering to sell you a timeshare condo, the picture of your niece that you sent wirelessly to your mom, or a show that you recorded to watch later, something is going to be lost forever – and looking at the trends, the proportion of things that get lost forever will keep increasing.

More interestingly, however, are the comments on what this all means for knowledge workers,  namely that the work that these people do can to some extent be compared to switchboard operators:

When I look around I see a world where the real value is in connecting people and knowledge. But doing so in utter secrecy doesn’t scale. We don’t do sellside vs buyside. We do active endpoints. We don’t represent one side or the other. We represent the network. We’re switchboard operators for the digital knowledge economy.

That’s what social networkers are and do. We’re connectors.  

As I said, the switchboard operator analogy holds up only so far, and as somebody else already commented on this post:

There’s more to this connecting stuff than just pulling together the bits that anyone _could_ find: it’s being the people who actually _take the time_ to find the connections in amongst the huge stew of everything out there on the Internet.

That’s one of the places the operator analogy falls down. Operators were pretty much passive connectors: a call came in from person A who wants to reach person B, and the operator is the one who knows how to make the connection, but they don’t have anything to do with deciding what connection to make. The valuable operators in this new economy are those who spot the useful connections and initiate them without being prompted.

So where am I going with all of this? I think it should be pretty obvious from the above that just learning how to read, write, and do basic math isn’t going to cut it anymore, yet that’s what we do in education in many cases. Students need to learn how to search for, aggregate, analyze, synthesize, create, and communicate, and they need to be able to do so in an increasingly digital world (hence also the need for more social studies education in such areas as citizenship and global awareness). We can no longer afford to prepare kids with skills for an industrial economy, those days are long gone. The area I live in, Northeast Ohio, is a prime example, as further discussed in this earlier post.

Literacy is extremely important these days, even more so than in the past. However, as the nature of information is constantly changing, so should the ways in which we teach our students to be literate, and that means going way beyond learning how to read, really!

Image Credit: “DSC04332”, Neil Rickard’s photostream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilrickards/141511035/