Category Archives: Course 2

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

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

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…

Digital Footprints: Inevitable but Manageable

I suppose things were more anonymous when I was in high school. Then again, gaining global notoriety was harder. After all, if I wanted to send a naked photo of myself to someone, I’d have to actually go to a photo shop and have one developed from 35mm film. THAT would be embarassing. If I wanted to chat with strangers, I’d have to, well, actually go out to a public place and start talking to a stranger – FACE TO FACE – and I’d be able to see if that person was actually another teenager or a 40-year-old man in a basement. If I wanted to promote myself as an individual – well, that, too was harder. I’d scheme to get myself featured in a yearbook photo shot. (Who remembers the days of poring through the yearbook index to see how many times you were mentioned, and then comparing them to other people?) If I wanted to get a job, I would print up resumes and mail them – using REAL PAPER – to potential employers. But today, we have sexting, chatting, social networking, and personal websites – any number of ways to leave our digital footprint.

Continue reading Digital Footprints: Inevitable but Manageable