Wednesday, September 30, 2009
"Printing was considered vulgar and only for the poor. Many aristocratic bibliophiles refused to disgrace their collections with the presence of a non-manuscript text. It fell to the lower classes to recognize the importance of the printing press. And they did - by the end of the fifteenth century, more than one thousand printers had printed between eight and ten million copies of more than forty thousand book titles.
Full text here.
Let's do a little word substitution and see if it still holds true:
Social Media (or cell phones, or Web tools, etc) was considered inappropriate and only for the students. Many school districts refused to disgrace their classrooms with the presence of such a tool. It fell to the students to recognize the importance of the tools. And they did - by the end of 2009, more than 23 million users had accounts on Facebook, alone."
Oh, by the way, if you've got the Google/Wolfram alpha plugin for Firefox, do a search for "number of active facebook users 2009" See if you think the results may be a little off. :-)
Sunday, September 27, 2009
And then I thought, I can't even share this blog post with many of our teachers in PA, because Ning is blocked. Blogs are blocked. Their conference wiki is blocked. On the one hand we've got some students traveling to India to learn from and with students from around the world, and on the other hand we've got teachers who can't even READ ABOUT IT!!
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE?
CAN YOU HEAR ME SCREAMING??
Saturday, September 26, 2009
To get started on your own, start by creating an account at Officelive.com. Then, upload a file or two to your storage area. If you play around a bit you'll notice that you can assign multiple editors to documents (Can I say, "Like in Google Docs?"), and you can assign others as being Reviewers but not editors.
Now, in your version of Word (either 2007 for Windows or 2008 for Mac) choose "File>Open from Document Connetion." (Not sure if it says it differently in Windows version) In the resulting dialog box, click the icon in the top left corner to add your information to sign into your OfficeLive space.
Once you open a document from there and make changes and save, the changes are saved back to your workspace. You can also begin the process by going to your OfficeLive workspace and opening the file. If you're using IE 7 or above the document should open right in the browser for editing. There are many more features to the system, but this will get you started.
So, if you're in a district where Google Docs are blocked (don't get me started) then this is the solution for you. I don't see that you can embed documents, so if you see how that's done please leave a comment to tell us how it's done.
Imagine a sociology or Social Studies class where kids team up to create these maps, save them as KMZ files or movies, and then embed them into their class wikis. And, imagine them using these maps instead of powerpoints to give a presentation to their class. They're finding the appropriate data, creating the maps, and then presenting on what that data shows. I LOVE IT!
Below is one of the images that I got out of their Gallery which shows educational attainment of adults age 25 and older with a 9th grade attainment level or BELOW. A teacher can TALK about this, or the kids can discover it by themselves. What areas have the highest rate of low education levels? Why? What do they have in common?All sorts of questions arise from maps like these. And, many maps plot data over time so that the maps move as the data changes. Make a movie out of that and use it talk give your presentation. GREAT stuff.
I do hope you'll download it and take a long look at it. Watch that video again to see all the different things you're able to do with the program. Teachers, get the pro version for $49, too. You'll be making movies and uploading them to your moodle classes or websites in no time.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I'm sure you've read some of the many blog posts and other articles (PLEASE tell me you have read some of them.) that have been written over the past couple of years that tell you what's wrong with NCLB, or Federal Regulations, or one law or another. To some extent, this is yet another such letter. However, I really think that this letter will point out an area that you can address pretty easily and quickly, and will go a VERY LONG WAY in making some real changes in our classrooms. That is, Please clarify the CIPA law.
Yes, I KNOW it's only there as a guideline to follow if you are getting erate funding, but schools are scared to death of it. The CIPA law is the single most cited reason to support the decision to filter the Internet to the point that it has become almost useless, in some districts. Now, I know that you think I've exaggerating the situation to make a point. I'm not. If anything, I've understated it.
Here's the part of the law that is the reason for all the fuss. "
(2) HARMFUL TO MINORS.--The term ``harmful to minors'' means any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that--
(A) taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion;
(B) depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual acts, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals; and
(C) taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors."Now, this is SO broadly stated that it has many folks rushing out to block almost everything that isn't 100% void of even the potential to have something there that might be considered crude by someone's standards. For example, just yesterday I heard from teachers whose district still blocks ALL blogs, even Edublogs, Class Blogmeister, and epals blogs. Why? Well, someone might post something that someone else might find offensive. That's the same reason they use to block wikis. In spite of the many examples of outstanding wikis that have facilitated global collaborations, they choose to block them because someone might post an inappropriate picture or say something that's inappropriate. This school even blocks the Smithsonian Institutes's site, pointing to the images of the nudes. I'm NOT kidding.
You laugh, Ed.gov, but I'm being dead serious here. Shall I tell you about the districts that block Wikipedia, "because anyone can put anything on there", or those that block Google? YES they do! Google has a link for cached pages, and kids can use that to see 'dirty pictures.' Or the districts that block Google Docs because the kids can save images in a document and then share those documents with other unsuspecting kids. Never mind all the great educational benefits that can come from using that tool, these districts think up a worst case scenario and use it to justify blocking access. They block Diigo and Delicious because kids could bookmark inappropriate sites from home. Never mind that the filter would stop them from seeing those sites, the kids can still see the words. (Yes, they block for fear of words, too) And, never mind that these tools are desperately needed by students to be able to manage the resources that they find online. The Filter determines the goals of the curriculum and the methods used to achieve those goals.
That's an important point, Ed.gov. The Filter determines the goals of the curriculum and the methods used to achieve those goals. Talk all you want about wanting "21st Century skills", but you won't see many of them as long as schools are handcuffed by the wording in that paragraph. Schools can't teach about the Creative Commons, because they block the sites where those images reside. Schools can't provide tools to manage information because those sites are blocked. Schools can't use a wiki to collaborate with other schools around the world for fear that one of the students will post an inappropriate image.
So, schools are creating a subset of the Internet and pretending that they're teaching kids how to use it safely and wisely. It's like taking Driver's Ed to prepare them to be safe drivers and never leaving the parking lot, isn't it?
It's CRAZINESS! And, it's paralyzing. And, this country CANNOT AFFORD this nonsense right now!
So please, Ed.gov, if you REALLY want to help us, bring some sanity and clarity to that law. The kids are seeing Vi*gra commercials on Prime Time TV, and soft p*rn on MTV and not-so-soft p*rn on HBO and REAL hardcore stuff on the Internet. Yet, schools are powerless to show kids how to use the Internet wisely - for personal learning.
Help us help them!
Should I... that is, should WE be concerned about that?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
You KNOW this is my hot button. I firmly believe that the US cannot afford to block its youth from the world in the name of CIPA. The law was never intended for this, and we don't have time to waste. There is a race going on in this world, and as Thomas Friedman said, "Nobody Races you to the bottom."
As I said before, imagine this. You call a meeting of the parents in your district to tell them that you'd LIKE to be teaching with blogs , and you'd LIKE to be collaborating with students from around the world using a wiki, and you'd LIKE to be using Google Docs, but you can't. A foreign government is blocking it all. See if they don't want to wage war.
Now, sit down and write a letter to those parents explaining why your filter is so outrageously restrictive that kids can't even see the Smithsonian and they can't even use Edublogs or wikispaces. Just see if you can honestly justify that filtering policy. You cannot.
It's not a matter of IF this kind of outrageous practice will end, only When. We don't have time to waste. DEMAND that the filter be opened up. DEMAND a world class education for your kids! You certainly won't get it if they're blocked out of so much.
It's time that the Principals and Curriculum Directors step up and insist that changes be made. Or, does the Curriculum answer to the Technology? If your district's filter is nothing like this one, then you've got work to do.
Her mother said, "How did you learn to do that?" Her daughter said, "We were talking about it at recess today." She learned it from the OTHER 2nd graders during recesss.
Ready or not, here they come!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
First of all, I LOVE this guy's passion. It's quite clear that he is horrified by what he's seeing, and that he has a sense of urgency about it that he's trying desperately to convey to others.
Second, I wonder why this issue has become a political one.
But third, since it IS a political issue, and after what we just witnessed with President Obama's speech to the school children, I wonder if science teachers are permitted to show this video to their classes. Maybe they are - until Glen Beck finds out about it.
Why? Because, while the world keeps making portable applications that do these amazing things, the folks who make the decisions about education are either blocking us from using them, or pretending that they don't exist, or even denying that they make a difference, and instead, continuing to pour money into a system centered around memorization and high stakes tests.
At what point do we take a look at the world around us and say, "OK. It's now time to admit that these things exist AND that they are game-changers."