Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Print to Pixel Conference 2013

Search your way to Success
Presentation about Internet search and how it relates to the Common Core State Standards

Friday, August 9, 2013

Module 4 Reflection

Reflection: What challenges occur when students are empowered to create online "text" and share globally with others?

As teens have done throughout time, they embrace "new" technology and play with it, creating a base for next generation to build on.  The new genres have involved text, music, and visual arts, depending on the generation and media accessibility.  Right now, online "text" includes written, musical and visual arts, exclusive and combined, often remixed.

At this time in our electronic evolution, we have easy-to-manipulate tools at our fingertips. We can create our own visual text.  Students who see the world in pictures are now able to communicate effectively.  They don't have to be manually artistic, good spellers, or wealthy enough to afford to buy professional-grade equipment.  They don't need an agent. They need computer access and time.  It's exciting!  Our youth have been trained to expect immediate feedback and they can get it online from an ever-expanding audience.

A quick look at Abbott Tech reveals a number of the challenges students face in this new landscape.  Rude tweets on the Abbott Tech Twitter channel have resulted in suspensions.  Students chose to take an inappropriate video inside the school building while passing and posted it on YouTube.  They were suspended.  A sophomore borrowed his brother's flash drive to bring a paper into school to print.  He left the drive in the computer with his brother's pornography on it. Many students copy and paste from articles on the internet and turn in projects without proper documentation.  These challenges involve students' own immaturity and inexperience, which is part of being a teenager.

With freedom comes responsibility.  Educators must teach their students, both by example and with practice, that in order to safely navigate the social aspects of the internet, they need to act responsibly.  Equity is also an issue. Much interesting and creative work is done at home on students' personal equipment.  As with any new medium, those with money have better access.  There isn't enough time or equipment during school to give all students the hours of play they need to really perfect their skills.  Maybe, the best we can give all students for now is exposure, practice, and guidelines.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Video of my cat

Copy of Mr. Kitty

I was enamored with your Animoto videos.  Here's my THIRD attempt.
The first one was too silly, the second one was kinda lame.  This is my best effort so far...

CRAP test

Here's an Animoto project.  It was fun, once I got started.
CRAP test
The trick was to figure out how to fit everything into 30 seconds!

Ruminations on the importance of teaching internet skills

 "If we seek to prepare our students for their future, it would seem essential that we
would want to evaluate their ability with online reading comprehension." (Mokhtari 2008)

I agree.  It would seem essential that we teach students to develop questions, use keywords, find information, determine credibility, and produce a product for their audience (even if they themselves are the audience.)  The internet and online communication are becoming integral to many of my day-to-day interactions, especially in my economic and social demographic.  I use the internet at work to help students and communicate with my colleagues.  I use the internet at home to find stuff out and to communicate with my friends.  I am not yet connected on my phone.  I waste too much time "cruising" as it is.

We use the internet, but we also eat. As a society, we make poor food choices. Should our schools take that on as well?  They do to some degree with "healthier" lunches, but obesity is still a huge issue.  Most of our students will become parents.  Shouldn't we offer coursework on parenting?  We can work it in Science classes.  How about personal finance?  That's really important.  Math.  Basic car and home maintenance? The list goes on.

Actually in "the good old days" when college wasn't pushed as the only option, we did have Home Ec, wood shop, automotive classes, and "business classes" for those who didn't plan to further their formal education. My parents made me take typing in 8th grade.  That's the only reason I can navigate a keyboard. Maybe the changing times assume we will be prepared for the basics of day-to-day living - or we'll be able to Google it and find out!

I'm listening carefully, maybe with a more skeptical ear than some.  I'll be trying some new material out at school this year.  I work with some high-schoolers who don't have third grade reading skills.  Why?  Will learning to navigate the World WILD Web help them?  Maybe.  We'll see...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Module 3

Students are often challenged when evaluating the credibility and relevance of online information. Have you ever been fooled by information you read online?

Before social media websites were popular, I got a number of alarming emails from friends who had forwarded them from their friends.  Is canola oil lethal?  Is there a missing girl in Texas?  When I joined Facebook, I figured out why the alarming emails had stopped.  They were in a new medium where they could become viral more quickly than ever. When I reposted something that surprised me, a friend said, "Check Snopes."  I did, and a new world was opened to me! I live by it on Facebook - or I completely ignore the hype.

I came from the public library system.  There we had three computers with internet access and we had dial-up at home.  Twelve years ago, I started working at Abbott Tech, in the CT Technical HS system. By the time we got enough computers at for reasonable class instruction, I had read some sources the previous librarian had purchased on internet instruction, mostly because I didn't know anything!  A lesson involved looking up a site about Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) and evaluating it as a source. The computer science professor who constructed the site, Tom Way, did a good job of making it fact-filled, though the information is explained in the same breathlessly alarming way the Facebook untruths are told.  I learned a lot, both about the substance and about evaluating websites.

For those of you unfamiliar with the site, DHMO is a main component of acid rain, you can die if you inhale it, and it contributes to soil erosion.  The website is http://www.dhmo.org/.  Those of you with a science background may have already figured out the other name for DHMO is H2O or water.  

Now that I have had tons of practice navigating the internet for both work and for my own reasons, I scan site descriptions without thinking about it, I quickly read the first page of a site, I cross reference sites, I check authors... quickly and efficiently.  This ORMS module opened my eyes to the fact that these are not innate skills for everyone who can read text.  There is a learning curve, and student need to be taught, step by step, the way to efficiently navigate the wild west of the web.

Someone posted a TED talk about how web browsers customize your searches according to your internet habits.  I always wondered why students were finding different information in their web searches than I was.  Students are always clicking in and out of sneaker ads, the latest music on YouTube, and unblocked social network sites like Tumblr. It depends on who is sitting at that computer.  The search engine customizing software must get a real workout!