Provocative video on education in the US. Discuss.
Here’s the list of solutions to fear that was generated during our session. I’ll post our videos soon.
How do you overcome fear?
- having the conversation
- pool your strengths
- make mistakes
- new skills
- understand the problem
- how to get people to pay attention
- need a decision-making process
- make yourself aware of what’s out there
- need a way to disseminate the information
- appreciating the new role of faculty in embracing technology
- working with faculty more closely
- role of students
- need time to adopt new technology–using students to be a part of the process to build resources
- discovery–play around with something for a while before incorporating into courses
- storm the walls
- overthrow the system
- talk to students
- preparing for constant change–perpetual beta
- encouraging students to support faculty
- working together
- know something truthful about the learner
- learner knows something truthful about us
- reason to use the technology
- examples–show vs. tell
- partnerships among faculty, students, & IT
- appreciate the technology as a consumer
- don’t feel the need to master everything
- faculty getting other faculty on board
- break out of structures
- bringing diverse people together to talk
- naming it–find a place for it
I’m in San Antonio at the Educause Learning Institute annual conference. Highlights so far have been hanging out with some great and interesting people: Barbara G., Barbara S., Leslie, Martha, Brian Lamb, Alan Levine and more. I also saw Henry Jenkins and George Siemens give a couple of interesting talks. My impressions were that Jenkins wasn’t provocative enough and Siemens went a little over the edge. Siemens made a pretty significant appearance in my dissertation, so I certainly respect his work, but he lacks the ability, I think to take his theory and explain its practical application. Someone in the audience actually got up and said, “I don’t get it.” And his explanation was just a rearticulation of the theory. Perhaps he leaves that for others to do. Jenkins, on the other hand, didn’t go quite far enough to shake things up. After all, his approach uses traditional avenues–research, white papers, books. Most of what he said I’d heard before. But I do know that there are plenty of people here who need to hear what Jenkins said.
I think a conference like this tries to strike a balance between reaching those who are unaware or only vaguely aware of the bleeding edge and those who are standing right on it. It’s certainly better than the main Educause conference which definitely appeals more to administrators and managers than to those working in the trenches (especially those of us working with the academic side of the house). There’s still another day and a half to go and of course my talk with the four fab ladies mentioned above happens later today. Our competition: none other than Michael Wesch, whom I met last night and tried to cajole him to go to dinner with a crowd of us. I think he would have enjoyed the conversation. I do really like his work. I’m sad that I’ll miss his talk.
For those of you not following the comments to yesterday’s post, one of the teachers from the show, Steve Maher, has not only commented, but has a good post about some of the issues pertaining to technology and education specifically in response to a review in the Philadelphia Inquirer online.
Even if the show wasn’t perfect, at least it’s generated a good conversation.
Last night, I watched Frontline’s Growing Up Online. It made some attempt to be balanced by having researchers make some positive comments about the Internet, but it only showed negative examples–a boy who commits suicide, a girl who finds forums for anorexics, another who posts risque pictures of herself, etc. I had to pause the show a lot in order to yell at the tv. First, I was shocked by how many parents had no clue. They hadn’t bothered to learn email or word processing much less MySpace or Facebook. To them I say, figure it out. Set up an account. You don’t have to use it all the time or at all, but you need to know what it is your kids are doing. I was also surprised by how many parents let their kids have computers in their rooms at a young age. Maybe by mid high school, a computer in the room is okay, but I still think having it in a common area is a better idea. But still, parents shouldn’t try to be nosy–respect your kids’ privacy. Don’t lean over their shoulder every five minutes.
The worst parent was the woman who was the PTO president. She educated herself alright, by buying into the media hype about online predators. Then, when her son went to a concert among several hundred teenagers who were drinking and video-taped and photographed themselves doing so, she emailed all the other parents. As she said, about 50% of the parents thanked her for pointing out the material that had been posted online. Those parents were the clueless ones. The other 50% said either, “Mind your own business” or “What are you? Naive? This stuff happens all the time.” After that, her son wouldn’t talk to her, wouldn’t tell her anything that was going on. In essence, she’d turned something private–an issue she had with her son–into something public, by emailing all the other parents. Ironic, I’d say. I was with the son. One commenter on the Frontline site said they thought she was doing a good job. However, I thought snooping and asking for passwords was the wrong way about it. She should have just talked to her kids. There’s really not a need to pry unless you suspect something bad is happening. If you’re talking to your kids regularly, you should know when something might be going on. She never said she suspected her kids of anything. She just figured they were doing bad things because the media told her so.
The discussion on the Frontline website goes back and forth about kids’ rights to privacy or not, with some saying that they have no rights and others asserting that they do. I fall decidedly on the side of kids having a right to privacy. And hello, if your concern is what your kids are doing in public, then Google them, or search for them on Facebook or MySpace. That’s public. And if you find something you don’t like, talk to them about it. The suggestion many make about taking away the cell phone or the computer won’t work. They’ll use the library computer or their friends’ computers. And then you’ll settle into the false idea that your kids aren’t online.
There was also a little bit on education and technology, with one teacher shunning technology altogether. I was rolling my eyes at her. On the other hand, I didn’t appreciate the technophile saying he need to be an entertainer. If you’re just using technology to entertain kids, you’re doing it wrong.
All in all, I didn’t think there were enough positive examples. Where are the kids who are doing creative things online? Who feel disconnected, but find good friendships online? Who use their online world to help them work through problems constructively? I think there are plenty of these. We just don’t hear about them because parents aren’t going to call the news show and say, hey, my son created a cool movie online.
I do think it’s important to understand that bad things can happen online (just like the real world)–cyberbullying, even online solicitation–and that parents should talk to their kids about their online life. We have talked to our kids, 8 and 12, about being online, about not giving out personal information. We limit their time online. When they’re online, we ask what they’re doing, who they’re talking to. Most of the time, even when playing online games, they’re playing with kids who live down the street. When I was 12, I was on the phone all the time. My son is chatting through Runescape, mostly with people he knows. He’s also already participated in a boycott online when they changed the game because of a few griefers. For now, I feel his online activity is positive. And I hope that will continue. Perhaps because both Mr. Geeky and I have online lives and we talk about the pros and cons all the time, our kids understand that being in the public eye means being responsible. That’s a message that didn’t get through in the Frontline piece last night. There really wasn’t a middle ground. It was almost like the piece showed these kids as if they were part of another culture that we’d found on a remote island and everything they did was mysterious and odd and needed to be squelched and brought in line. We need to remember: they are us.
I don’t remember exactly when I became fascinated with the Civil Rights movement. I grew up in the south just after the whole thing was “over”. My parents didn’t talk about it much even though they lived–both of them–in places where it directly affected them. I suspect that my mother didn’t want integration or equal rights. She would never articulate that directly, but I know her parents felt that way. She felt (feels) that equal rights are important or modern, but not in any real way. She’s not outraged by evidence of inequality. My dad was probably less affected, being in a smaller town. His trajectory was different. The older he got, the more he believed in the importance of equal rights–for everyone.
Going to college in Memphis, I finally got the opportunity to face the history of the south more directly. Our poor working town a little farther north and east wasn’t really touched by slavery, segregation, or civil unrest the way Memphis was. On the river, embedded in the cobblestone banks, are the large metal loops used to hook boats bringing cotton to the Cotton Exchange. In my first year, I traveled through Mississippi driving by shack after shack at the edges of now fallow fields. It wasn’t hard to imagine what the area had been like a century before. And driving to my grandparents in the early fall, the road was lined with cotton that spilled off of trucks. Harvested mostly by machine, it wasn’t hard to imagine the fields on either side of the road filled with people filling bags with cotton.
It seemed at once romantic and horrific to me to imagine slavery. I enrolled in African-American literature classes, reading The Bluest Eye, Meridian, The Color Purple, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and more. The conversations were almost always heated. There were no black students in our class and so the conversations were mostly between the sympathetic and not. Truly academic in many ways.
But then I took a class in African American history. I wanted to learn more about the events referenced in those novels. It was the most memorable class I ever took. I wouldn’t consider myself an exemplary student. I did well enough, but mostly I coasted on my natural abilities rather than putting forth major effort. In this class, however, I became obsessed. I decided in my final project to write the history of the integration of our college, which occurred just before Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in our city and after the public schools integrated. This required a lot of work on my part. I went to the public library and looked up old newspaper articles on other schools’ integration processes, on the sanitation workers strike, on other events going on all around the college related to the Civil Rights movement. I tried to get a sense of what the social climate in the city was like. I interviewed all the first black students to enter our college, tape recording the sessions and transcribing them. I interviewed subsequent entering students. They all told me great stories, especially around their participation in Civil Rights activities. I can remember talking to one man and in the background, the clock was ticking, but otherwise, there was no noise except him talking, telling his story. I didn’t interrupt. I barely breathed. I tried to get minutes from the board meeting where the decision was made to integrate the school. I was blocked. My professor and my father (an alum and a lawyer) both tried to help me get them. Our official history stated that on such and such a date, the board decided to integrate. And that was that. No discussion of whether the decision was contentious. Nothing.
That whole experience led to more classes. It led to my applying not just to creative writing programs, but an equal number of African-American studies programs. I continued to be fascinated, to take classes. But it was more than academic for me. I participated in protests. I did what I could to take an active role. I saw connections between feminism and civil rights. I could have just seen the Civil Rights movement as something that happened before my time and that was largely successful. But instead, digging into it the way I did, I understood that people died for their rights and that the untimely death of a key leader shortchanged the whole movement and that there’s still much work to be done. People still die over racial issues. It may not be the KKK doing the killing anymore. The fight may not be about the blatant refusal to allow a black man to sit at the same lunch counter. But Civil Rights is as important an issue as ever.
Got this via AAYOR
Note that Hillary is near the bottom for me. I’ve always like Kucinich, but Biden? Gravel? Gravel’s kind of a nut.
89% Dennis Kucinich
87% Mike Gravel
81% Joe Biden
80% Barack Obama
79% Chris Dodd
78% John Edwards
73% Hillary Clinton
73% Bill Richardson
36% Rudy Giuliani
30% Ron Paul
29% John McCain
22% Mitt Romney
21% Mike Huckabee
12% Tom Tancredo
12% Fred Thompson
2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz
- Apple has a new small computer
- You can rent movies via iTunes
- Microsoft products suck
- Scrabble makers want Scrabulous to be removed from Facebook
- Dragon Naturally Speaking comes out for the Mac
- Blackboard bought and emergency notification company
- YouTube is still huge
- I still can’t believe how much academics don’t know about technology