• Keeping Up in a Digital World Published 2008-07-28 under

    Digital World As parents and educators, it is important for us to stay abreast of the digital world in which our kids live. I recently found another reason for us to keep up.

    I have been immersed in several projects recently, one of which involves exploring the human development aspects of growing up in a digital world. This project has me searching for resources that explore various ways our digital world is affecting the development of our kids.

    My research took me to a report titled The Appropriation of New Media by Youth. It is an interesting look at use of new media from a European perspective. The report looks at several countries offering a profile and recommendations for each. For example, one of the general recommendations for the United Kingdom was:

    "We recommend that the current emphasis placed on the regulation and prohibition of online media within schools and colleges is substituted by pedagogical interventions aimed at developing children and young people’s critical literacy skills and competencies."

    But what really caught my attention I found in the report conclusions:

    The survey also shows that whereas young people are appropriating user skills thanks to their peers and to their own experiences, they are finding few adult partners to rationalise and systematise the spontaneous learning channels they are developing. Instructional independence is a quality, to be sure, but many young people feel (and sometimes express) the need of finding a heedful ear among adults and at times a dialogue that the family and school develop to a very limited extent about using the Internet, games and mobile telephones. The Appropriation of New Media by Youth - page 56

    Excellent! Absolutely! We need to keep up with our kids so we can be there to help them as they navigate adolescence in a digital world. How can a child talk to us about cyberbullying when we don't get social networking? Most of us can relate to being embarrassed on the school playground, but how many can relate to a child who has just been flamed in a Internet chat room? So to say up with my daughter, I am off to explore the world of Pinky Dinky Doo.

    BTW... If you have any resources that you would like to recommend, add them to the comments. I am looking for articles or sources that address issues relating to the digital world and human (child) development. While issues involving how the educational system needs to be changed to reflect the digital world are important, this project is more about the emotional, social, moral, ethical development of kids that takes place both in school and out of school. I am really excited to see what you might recommend.

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  • NECC: So Connected Published 2008-07-03 under

    iste NECC succeeds at providing wireless connectivity despite the large number of participants.

    One of the most impressive parts of NECC this year may have been lost or at least not recognized by many of the attendees. It did not have to do with the quality of the sessions, the nice environ offered by the City of San Antonio, nor even the fun yellow ISTE beach balls given away the first day. It was about WiFi. Every time I tried to connect whether in a session, the hallway, or even at lunch, my system found the "isteconnect" and I was on the internet. I was sitting at the Blogger Cafe with at least 30 others, most of whom had their laptops open - presumably connected too. Even with these numbers, I was able to connect. I have been to a number of conferences and the ubiquity of access to the Internet this past few days has really made this conference standout.

    Of course, it took a contrast for me to really notice it. At my hotel, the Internet (via wifi) was very slow. I am currently at a Starbucks writing this offline because I am too cheap to fork out the money for a iMoble connection. Writing offline is difficult. I am so used to being connected that I can't help but to jump over to my browser to check a fact, look up a word, or search for supporting (contrasting) arguments. I am not even that big of an email/twitter/IM/rss junky. I don't have the fear of missing something that many folks have. But I do need access to get any work done, whether it be writing, programming, or even designing. The Internet has become a ubiquitous part of my work process.

    Thus, I am writing this blind. I have no idea if others have been equally impressed with NECC wireless connectivity or if some found it to be very lacking. It is kind of exciting...

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  • NECC: Intel - Best of Show Published 2008-07-02 under , ,

    iste My pick for "Best of the Show" - Intel's FREE thinking tools.

    Exhibit halls at conferences don't usually excite me. They are noisy, crowded, and with every vendor designing their booth to capture your attention, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Despite my feelings (and my better judgment) I venture into the hall every conference and usually leave with very little. This was the case yesterday at NECC. I did have a nice conversation with the folks at Adobe, met a friend of a friend at TI and was amused by the varied and creative methods being employed to grab ones attention. But, as usual, when I turned to leave, I had nothing to show for my time. Or, that as until I happened by the Intel booth on the way out.

    Why would I stop at the Intel booth? Don't get me wrong - I like Intel and their products. I just have never looked to Intel for educational tools or resources. Well, that has now changed. I am so excited about Intel's Education Initiative and their tools for K-12 teachers.

    The tools are divided into two categories - "Thinking Tools" and "Productivity Tools". Right there, you got to get excited by the title "Thinking Tools". Within this first category, there are three tools: "Visual Ranking Tool", "Seeing Reason Tool", and "Showing Evidence Tool". Again, just from the names, you can get a feel for how these tools might be used for challenging your students with higher learning skills.

    The Visual Ranking Tool is the one that Vanessa (an educator from Austin in the day, Intel Education Leader at night) demonstrated for me and the tool that got me so excited. The tool is quite simple. Teachers setup a list of items and students (working in teams or individually) rank order the items based on some criteria. For example, you could list factors/events leading to WWII and have your students rank order them in terms of their relative importance in causing the war. You could list various reasons why an author killed off a character in a book the class is reading then have your students rank order them based on their plausibility. The tool need not be limited to open-ended type questions. The Ranking Tool could be used to put things in chronological order. In Mathematics, students could be asked to put the steps necessary to solve a problem in their correct order testing their understanding of the concepts and terminology rather than just whether they can perform the math.

    Simple ranking is of no use unless students are required to backup their decisions with some rational. The tool provides a place for students to justify their rankings and then when they are done, they can see how other teams/students ranked the items. This gives the kids a chance to reflect on their ranking and discuss if they should make any changes. It also provides for a good class discussion as students defend their ranking.

    The Visual Ranking Tools alone is a powerful learning tool. And the other tools provided compliment and even extend its ability to get students thinking at a higher level. With all of the fancy tools and technology offered for educators, these relatively simple tools are my pick for the best of the show. They give quality educators the power to get their students thinking!

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