Archive for August 2007

New Twist on Social Tagging?

August 31, 2007

Okay, I know just about anything can get out of hand. But do we have to ban it carte blanche when it does? Here is a story of a few schools banning the time-tested game of tag on the school playground tag.gifbecause of misunderstandings during the game and some children getting chased when they did not want to play. Parents complained. Tag is banned. Having supervised children on playgrounds for many years, I have come to know that molehills can be made into mountains by children and just about anything can be made hazardous or annoying. Hence, supervision. If children get too physical while playing soccer, do we ban soccer? If pushing ensues during a hopscotch game, do we ban that too? If a student misuses internet privileges, do we ban internet use for all? Somehow, we have to address the roots of undesirable, hurtful, or destructive behavior, no?


What Did U $@y?

August 30, 2007

lol.gifA recent article in the Wall Street Journal discusses the emergence of a unique online language of hackers and gamers referred to as “leetspeak” (elite speak or l33t5p34k) – a form of netspeak. Some of these purists are up in arms that the “old folks” are trying to use their language. I guess there is nothing worse than your mom or dad referring to you as your BFF? How does this mesh with average students in school? Are they actually happier when their teachers do not embrace such new forms of discourse that are “theirs”? Or, if such a form of written expression does creep into students’ work, what do we do with it? Do we LOL and say, AYK? Apparently, Shakespeare would approve. I was walking across campus the other day and overheard two students talking, using expressions like BFF and LOL. Can we not even laugh out loud anymore? Will humor be reduced to stating “LOL” in reality?I came across an interesting site that will actually translate netspeak and leetspeak back into standard english.BTW, can you read this? TEh INTeRn3T i5 THr3@+EN1N9 t0 Ch@n93 thE W4Y wE $p34k. If not try the translator 🙂 

Branding our Youth?

August 17, 2007

A recent study undertaken by MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft is concerned with better understanding news3.gifthe relationships between youth, culture and technology on a global plane. It surveyed 18,000 kids from 16 countries. While many of the findings are quite interesting from an education perspective, I am amazed at the commercial targeting going on. If I was a good artist, I would draw a picture to represent what I felt after reading it. Since I am not, I will just express in words what it would look like. I see some sort of social engineering machine in the shadows hooked up to thousands of children as they go about their daily lives, all connected synergistically to it, yet unaware of its presence. I can’t help but think when I read this report that commercialism and advertising are shaping our future way too much. Advertising and branding is nothing new, but the scale on which it is reaching youth today is astounding. When new technologies are released by big tech and entertainment industries, I think we need to take a closer look at whose agenda is having the biggest impact. In education, are we merely the remoras riding on the big whale shark? How to we educate kids on the predatory nature behind the very tools they desperately rely on? Sorry if this is a downer… it just opened my eyes a little bit to what I knew was already there.

Overfed on Blogs

August 13, 2007

I love… and hate… this cartoon by Dave Walker (he has so many really great ones). It represents what I have been feeling for some time now. It’s nobody’s fault… just the nature of the beast. I think the title “Overfed” is not quite accurate for me. It is more the “need” I feel to have to read so many blogs – or keep up with them. I don’t think that here is anything intrinsically harmful about reading too much. However, I find that it sometimes takes me away from other, more scholarly reading in journals and other places that I should be keeping up on. I think partly it is a little difficult keeping up with the conversational aspect of blogging. It is one thing to read them, but when you go in and want to maintain active discussions through commenting and then have to go back to all of your comments to see if anyone responded to them… well, it all takes time. I think I just need to pick the few that I want to participate in while having others that I just read. And, I’m not even bringing technologies like Twitter into the picture here. I don’t know…

How do you manage your time with the presence of the blogosphere in your own personal space?


Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Shared Voice with VoiceThread

August 9, 2007

I have been trying out the collaborative storytelling service VoiceThread and I have to say, I love it! For those who don’t know what it is, in a nutshell


 it allows registered (free) users to upload pictures, record commentary, use a digital marker to annotate photos, and invite others to comment on the same photos. The service adds their comments to the comments that you have already made. In the end, you and whoever you have invited can collaboratively tell a story, share memories or thoughts, give presentations,… And, there are a number of excellent privacy options that allow you to really protect your content or share it freely with the world, allowing anyone to comment as well. I can think of so many applications of this in the classroom. Students could retell their experiences after a field trip or school event once you have uploaded the photos. Pen-pals could share their experiences. Students could collaborate on projects or ideas. Parents could comment on classroom activities. Students could react to questions and visual content for homework. Just a few ideas… Do you have any to offer?

Collaborative Video

August 3, 2007

Google has pitched a new form of video authoring, done collaboratively, but asynchronously. They have an ongoing challenge for individuals to video a 10 second video clip with the Google Mail icon moving from left to right across the Collaborative Gmail Video Challengeframe and they are stitching together the most creative clips to form one video short highlighting Gmail. What a cool idea. We have seen so many collaborative 2.0 learning activities that have occurred online, but collaborative video brings a whole new form of collaborative authoring. Think of the creativity that could be unleashed if a digital story, for example, was researched, written, storyboarded, filmed, and edited by groups of students who do not even live in the same country or continent. What rich perspective in the form of video could be achieved. Think of the authentic discussions that would be going on behind the scenes as the final product was negotiated. Logistically, there would be some hurdles to overcome, but the idea is fascinating! The learning potential is astounding!

How do we prepare kids for all of this?

August 1, 2007

According to a recent report in the UK, YouTube is being accused of not enforcing its acceptable use policy with humiliating and inappropriate video content remaining accessible, including video clips that serve to bully and humiliate students and teachers. The report concludes that YouTube has joined a governmental anti-bullying task force. It is too bad that with almost every new and exciting tool that comes out, there are those who seek to use it for evil. Human nature. Even the OLPC laptops deployed in Nigeria to bring illumination and empowerment to the children there are being used by some to look at porn. Human nature. Now filters are having to be put on all of them and successive builds of the XO laptop. With all of the wonderful potential with all of these web-based tools how do we really prepare a generation of children to use them in a positive manner. How do we teach them to make right choices with so many seductive, destructive options at only a click away… and a private click at that? Internet predators aside for a moment, it is the private nature of such personal behavior that makes evil so enticing, I think, especially for those who would never engage in such types of behavior publicly. I think more discussion needs to be placed on these types of issues within the educational technology community. My fear is that a whole new generation is arising, both empowered by information and deceived by an increasing flow of destructive information. How to we tackle this?