All posts by mbkkelsey

Be Acceptable.

Some rights reserved by Gord McKenna

Here’s the AUP. I collaborated with my colleagues Justin and Tara for it. Go ahead and read it – it’s only two pages! No legalese, no laundry list of “don’ts,” no ridiculously intricate stipulations about how to use resources. Just positive, common sense guidelines. It’s aspirational, not contractual.

When we wrote it, we followed the following guidelines:

Language Level: Written for high schoolers by high school teachers. This is not to say that the guidelines couldn’t be used in a different school level, but phrases like “Adopting transparent and honest online identities” would have to be translated into direct, kid-friendly language.

Topics Covered: It’s streamlined compared to other AUPs that we reviewed because our school has more limited technology resources (such as print queue systems, school email for students, 1:1 laptops, etc). Therefore, it wasn’t necessary to set out guidelines for such systems. Instead, we focused on how we wanted students to interact with others and participate in communities.

Issues of Focus: We address on students behavior online and in real life (IRL) by covering three topics: surfing the web, use of personal electronic devices (it’s not uncommon for our students to come to school with two phones), and utlization of the school’s physical resources (including our limited bandwidth). Once again, it’s fairly limited in scope, but a detailed document is useless if no one bothers to read it.

Sharing with Students: We haven’t discussed this, although I recognize it’s an important component that ties in with the topics of Weeks 3 and 4. The school currently gives a handbook quiz at the beginning of the year, and it would be easy to incorporate elements from the AUP into that. However, I’ll reiterate my admiration for Kim Cofino’s Digital Citizenship Week because such an approach allows a school to highlight a topic that doesn’t fit effortlessly into many existing curricula. If such an option isn’t available, I’d make it part of a unit on digital citizenship in the technology curriculum.



Principals Behaving Badly

Well, here’s another from the edition of “People Behaving Badly Online:”

Suzy Harriston wanted to be friends on Facebook.

The profile said she was from Clayton and had more than 300 friends, many of them from Clayton High School.

No one seemed to question who Harriston was. That is, until the night of April 5, when a 2011 grad and former Clayton quarterback posted a public accusation.

“Whoever is friends with Suzy Harriston on Facebook needs to drop them. It is the Clayton Principal,” wrote Chase Haslett.

And then, Suzy Harriston disappeared, say those who saw the profile.

Original article from ᔥ Slashdot.

I’ll file this under the “Not illegal in many countries, but really, what were you thinking?” category.

One way to solve bullying

photo by dbking

Here’s one approach to the issue of digital citizenship and cyber bullying:

A teenager in Georgia has decided to take things into her own hands after her school and police said they could do nothing about the classmates bullying her on Facebook.

Fourteen-year-old Alex Boston and her parents are filing suit against two classmates and their parents for libel after the two classmates allegedly created a fake Facebook account in her name, using a photo of her that they distorted. The account was also used to post a racist video to YouTube that implied that Boston hated African-Americans, and to leave crude comments on the Facebook pages of other friends, suggesting she was sexually active and smoked marijuana.

My first instinct is that this is a typical misuse of the US legal system: suing someone over a personal disagreement. Couldn’t the situation be dealt with through a conversation, a sit-down between the aggrieved parties? Boston and her parents pursued several avenues of recourse: contacting school officials, the police, and Facebook. But nowhere is it indicated that they tried to contact the bullies and their parents directly to address the situation. This demonstrates why a lawsuit is an excessive response: simple personal contact wasn’t attempted.

On the other hand, online bullying takes a schoolyard activity and puts it into the context of the real world, where we might call it libel or harassment. Even if the suit doesn’t go to trial, might this be the smack across the head that the bullies need?

Think Before You Link

There’s a clip from the Pixar movie “Up” that really describes modern reading habits.

When applied to reading, this clip represents how hard it is for today’s students to get through dense texts, or even light texts, without being diverted. They don’t know how. Perseverance is part of the issue; another is resourcefulness – they won’t spend time thinking about unknown vocabulary in context, they don’t know where to look it up (I tell them it’s okay to use their smartphones, and my permissiveness excites, shocks, and/or stupefies them).

Why is this? According to journalist Nicholas Carr, the problem is the Internet. Continue reading Think Before You Link

It’s because we’re a bunch of degenerates

In sixth grade, I was the victim of bullying. Looking back, I can kind of see why: I was unassuming, not terribly self-aware, I wore chunky black wraparound glasses that reflected my parents’ values of function over form. Not that this excuses the bullying. Thank god, though, that at that time the “internet” was accessed on a 14.4k modem that you used to login to a unix terminal and check email using pine. You couldn’t get into Facebook wars or anything of the sort. The bullying stopped when I came home.

Some rights reserved by Amy Fleming

That’s not the case these days. The Internet and cellphones mean that teenagers are always connected – to their friends, and to their bullies, and we don’t know what to do about it – call parent meetings? File lawsuits? Danah Boyd tells us: “No amount of legislation requiring education is going to do squat until we actually find intervention mechanisms that work.” Ah, intervention. In other words, trying to solve a problem after it happens. But as Boyd herself acknowledges later in her article,

The issues here are systemic. And it’s great that the Internet is forcing us to think about them, but the Internet is not the problem here. It’s just one tool in an ongoing battle for attention, validation, and status. And unless we find effective ways of getting to the root of the problem, the Internet will just continue to be used to reinforce what is pervasive.

“Getting to the root of the problem.” In other words, we should find the cause and prevent the problem before it happens. So how do we do that?

Continue reading It’s because we’re a bunch of degenerates

Pimp My Whiteboard

My school is finally jumping on the smart board bandwagon and installing several dozen Hitachi Starboards over the coming months. My understanding is that by the time the next school year starts, every instructional space will have one, and that this is part of an initiative to have our school be a model of technology use in our city (I would rather have a one-to-one program, but I’m not one to inspect the oral cavities of equine gifts). I was fortunate enough to be in the initial pilot group, so in mid February the school installed one in my room along with an Elmo document camera. I didn’t have any formal training for the Starboard since I was out of town on school trips and conferences for both sessions, but I’ve been playing around with it and collaborating with my common planning colleague. I’ve always thought that smart boards had more applications in the maths and sciences where graphing was important, but I’ve also seen several distinct uses in high-school level humanities that I presented to my department at the last meeting: Categorization, Annotation, and Visual Notes.
Continue reading Pimp My Whiteboard

Copyright, Mashups, Plagiarism, and Information Management

Here’s a perspective on the role of copyright and the new digital skills that we should be teaching to our students:

Memorizing is a necessary skill. Accessing our memory is indeed quicker than accessing the net. Whether that information is accurate is another story. The problem is that in this Information Age too many educators are only teaching and testing memory skills, wallowing in that lower end of Bloom’s. If they’re not teaching students to discover, curate, and manage information, though, they’re missing the realism in GenZ’s future. This is also necessary before they move to the upper end of Bloom’s. Information management is the memory’s next door neighbor.

(Read more at Getting Smart: Generation Z: The Biggest Cheaters Since Homer.)

Renfro goes on to aver that “Teaching about copyright and proper content sharing should be an essential standard. Students should respect the work of others just as they will want to protect their own work that they upload to the net.” This begs Week 3’s assessment question: How do we teach copyright in Asia, in countries where international copyright law is not followed to begin with? What is our obligation as educators?

I think the issue should be separated as Renfro unintentionally does. In other words, we should consider 1) copyright law, and 2) proper content sharing with the understanding that 1) Copyright law should NOT be universally taught, and 2) Proper content sharing SHOULD be a constant, though not necessarily central, part of our curriculums.

Continue reading Copyright, Mashups, Plagiarism, and Information Management

Student work exemplars: using technology to “Shock and Awe”

In my Course 1 Project, I used this past quarter’s UbD unit, which contained several assessments requiring the use of technology. The students submitted two of the assignments last week – a group project in which students created a propaganda video for the fictional state of Totario, and a Prezi timeline of significant events in World War Two. I was quite frankly blown away by some of the products the students turned in, and am showcasing some examples below.

The first is a video promoting the leader (Great Magister) of Totario. For this assignment, students were really creative, filming mock scenes, writing their own anthems, and remixing YouTube videos (especially of North Korean and Chinese military parades). The video editing skills shown by those students were impressive, especially since I followed Tara Waudby’s advice to give less guidance to stimulate creativity. But one student went totally new media, using the tool Garry’s Mod to create an almost completely professional machinima video. I’ll let the video speak for itself:

The timelines also evinced a high level of professionalism. Students demonstrated their understanding by using Prezi’s Path feature to show cause and effects and significance – it was a visual way to make connections. They also did a great job of finding relevant images.

Continue reading Student work exemplars: using technology to “Shock and Awe”

Richardson’s New Realities

Will Richardson gives us more pithy analyses of the current state of technology and learning:

“It’s becoming clearer by the minute that, as Web technologies open more and more doors for learners, they also pose more and more challenges to traditional thinking about schools. At the center is figuring how best to prepare students for the vast learning opportunities they have outside of the traditional education system. While the challenges are different for each individual school and district, all will be forced to come to terms with five new realities in the short term.”

Read more: Coming to Terms With Five New Realities

But I’m Not Even That Interesting…

Privacy is perhaps THE hot-button issue of today’s online world. The spectrum of opinions spreads as wide as the ocean, from conspiracy-minded militants against any sort of sharing to the hard-core data liberationists such as Mark Zuckerberg who believe that all your information should be public by default. I myself have become more secretive over the years, even though I might advocate for an actively managed digital footprint.So what is all the hoopla over privacy?

The issue, I think, is NOT that the online medium itself demands a new mode of privacy or publicity. It is, rather, than society has thus far failed to adequately adapt existing models thereof to said medium.

Continue reading But I’m Not Even That Interesting…