Internet At Home/Internet At School

All stats are derived from the November 2010/January 2011 Centre Wellington DHS blended learning career studies pilot (102 students in four sections).  

More than 75% of my students have high speed internet access at home.  This internet access offers stable multi-megabit per second through-put, allowing for instant web access.  These students have none of the headaches of a closed educational network with network drives, secure individual logins, forgotten passwords or thousands of people trying to share their connection.  They are used to instant on, always on, fast internet.

With that access they play the latest games, many of which include multi-player massively online environments and astonishing graphics where they socialize with many people simultaneously.  Their home computers use the latest OSes almost exclusively and include the latest drivers and software.  An unusually high percentage also live in Apple OSx or the latest Linux distro.

At home they tear across the internet, downloading, uploading and multi-tasking with ease.  They are able to select a browser based on personal preferences and then load it with apps of their own choices; they are able to author their access, which is a key component in developing digital skills.

Then they come to school.

At our school they get to share our school bandwidth with fourteen hundred other people in the building, and then it gets funneled down to the board office where it’s shared with dozens of schools and thousands of other people.  And when that single link (single point of failure) fails?  The whole board goes dark.

School internet sucks” is a standard description of the experience.  At school you know you will click on google docs and wait, and wait, and wait.  When you’re typing in a googledoc you’ll sometimes see no text, and wait, and wait, and wait.  In many cases, this is the only time students see web pages timing out. This even happens with text pages, not just media heavy stuff.

The school network uses an image that has a pile of Ontario Ministry of Education software installed on it, but it’s not what they use at home.  Microsoft Office?  No, you get Wordperfect (which isn’t).  Trying to balance all of that software so that it plays well together is an ongoing challenge, and what many of our techs spend their time doing.

On top of all of it, when you login to a school computer you’re greeted with a pixelly WindowsXP screen.  WindowsXP?  Students remember that, it’s the OS their parent’s used when they were small children.

Internet at school.


One of the fun things at school is trying to find drivers for an OS that hasn’t been sold in years, but we’re not allowed to use anything else.  Got a new peripheral?  Better BYOD, because it ain’t gonna plug in to the school machines and work properly.  The hardware is new enough, but the operating systems running them are an anachronism.  We buy new i5 laptops, delete Windows7 with all the current drivers off them and install WinXP with generic drivers because no one builds drivers for new equipment for an operating system that’s been out of circulation for years.
What to do?
Correct use of computers in school are not a function of limiting network and machine functionality.  Teachers need to teach with computers, not use them as distraction.  An engaged, observant teacher in a digital classroom demonstrates and directs correct use.  Centralized Soviet style board IT management does not, all that does is offer a digital effigy to be hacked; it’s a dare.
The screen as a private mind-space is a misunderstanding of many digital natives.  Labs need to be set up with the teacher desk at the back so all screens are visible.  Students need to be aware that their screen is not a private space when in school, and they need to be sharing what they do with everyone in the room.  If they aren’t willing, then they are probably doing something that they shouldn’t.
Bring your own device should be encouraged, even actively supported by the school IT environment.  A diverse, personally authored access to technology should be the goal.  In many cases students will buy their own tech in order to get what they want, but there should be no digital divide in school.  The mini-lab would address this, allowing students with limited access to technology a choice in how they access information, and an opportunity to begin to develop their own sense of digital authorship.
Students can sign up to a high speed, multiple path network with built in redundancies and intelligent throttling by signing up the MAC addresess of their devices.  This would still allow for security and personal responsibility in their use of the resource.  A student who shows that they cannot make productive use of the network would find themselves throttled in bandwidth until they demonstrate a more efficient use of the tools.

This could even be tied to something as easily quantifiable like previous semester report card grades.  Students with failures are MAC blocked from Facebook and non-school related youtube video until they are passing.  When they notice how much more freedom and speed a digitally focused student gets online, they might begin to self-direct their digital serfdom into digital self-control.  Higher average students are offered greater bandwidth and more freedom.  Network through-put is a limited resource, using it as a reward for best work is not a bad idea and allows us to maintain a lean, efficient, faster online environment.

An intelligent network with no single points of failure and guaranteed bandwidth for learning tasks is entirely possible.  What prevents this is a stubborn, 20th Century mindset around industrialized, centralized use of networked tools.

With some teacher intervention and nuanced technical support, we can make schools a place to learn how to dance in the datasphere and develop digeracy, instead of being an anachronistic joke.

Pennsylvanian Autumn Colours

I’ve been thinking about an Appalachian ride, but didn’t get around to it this year.  So here is a nice travel idea for an end of year ride before the snows fall…

Saturday, October 20:  Ride from Elora to Hotel Crittenden in Coudersport, Pennsylvania (~350kms)
Sunday, October 21:  Cross Fork/Snow Shoe/Jersey Shore loop (~360kms)
Monday, October 22:  Liberty/Hillsgrove/Williamsport (~350kms)
Tuesday, October 23:  Coudersport back home to Elora (~350kms)

Hotel Crittenden is a lovely four star hotel with a pub/restaurant on site.  At this time of year it’s only about $150 Canadian a night.  What’s nice about returning to the same spot every evening is that I can leave the luggage behind and ride light on the loop days, enjoying the twisty roads without the weight and faff.

The two loop day rides through the Appalachians were generated in Google Maps from’s northern New York State maps.  It’s a good site for locating twisties anywhere you want to ride in North America.

All told it would be about 1400kms in four days, but any of the loop days have opportunities to extend or cut short the ride if conditions require it.

One thing to consider when riding this late in the year (within 8 weeks of mid-winter solstice), is that the days are short and getting shorter.  Sunset in northern Pennsylvania in mid-October happens around 6:30pm, so you wouldn’t be pushing for 500+km/12 hour days in the saddle  unless you wanted to be out on unfamiliar, rural, mountain roads after dark… in hunting season.

Pennsylvania has some of the largest northern boreal forests in the world.  Most other forests this far north get too coniferous to be colourful in the fall.  From Ontario down through northern New York State and into northern Pennsylvania, it would be a very colourful few days racking up motorcycle miles before the end of the always-too-short Canadian motorcycling season.

from Blogger

Gaming Insanity

A game is a deceit, designed to entertain.  If that entertainment becomes a perceived memory, and the actions in it something you believe you actually did, then what is the difference between you and someone with an associative disorder who thinks that they are Stalin?  Both experiences are fabricated on beliefs founded on false memory.  Both are a kind of insanity.

You have the problem of the teen who plays a lot of fighting games and believes himself a master pugilist.  He gets into a fight at school after shooting his mouth off, believing that he is something that he is not.  The result inevitably gets posted on youtube where he looks like a penguin trying to slap another penguin; yet his own recall of events is that of a flawless victory.

I see this with skateboarders all the time.  They play Tony Hawk like it’s going out of style, but can’t land an actual trick in real life, yet they carry themselves as though they do.  It’s a kind of digital machismo that is leaking into the real world.

Even in games themselves, you hear trash talk from the most inept players who flip out and rage because they clearly (and repeatedly) get pwned.  That Generation x-box mentality wins out, it’s a kind of self-belief that defies logic (and reality).

The ongoing problem I see with gaming related egoism is that games are designed to be beaten.  Through staging and a careful progression of skills development, games lead a player to success.  If only real life were like that, there would be far fewer meth-addicts, addicts in general for that matter, welfare cases and criminals, not to mention poverty, obesity, school failures, cancer and bullying (this list could get quite comprehensive).  Life isn’t remotely fair, or designed to entertain you while you succeed.

If your entire self worth is built around the idea that you beat something designed to entertain you while you defeat it, you have to wonder what happens when you get to something like, I don’t know, school or a job, where we expect you to handle complex tasks that aren’t designed to entertain you, and not everyone wins, even when they might be better at something.

Rather than a Ra-Ra Gamification high, perhaps we should be looking at this from a more Orwellian/Huxleyan point of view.  Games are designed to placate the masses, make them feel like they’ve accomplished something while enhancing their self worth in meaningless ways.  We take our soma where we can get it, I guess.

Part 2: Tech Fetishes and Digital Horcruxes

I just wrote about the spell casting nature of technical support when the Harry Potter metaphor extended itself.

In a grade 12 academic English class we were talking about 1984 and Brave New World.  The idea of a technological dystopia seemed very immediate for those seventeen and eighteen year old students.  They felt trapped by their technology, dependent on it, desperate for it, addicted to it!

One student mentioned that he forgot his smartphone on a recent trip and was beside himself not knowing what was going on.  I told him, “that used to happen in the old days, we called it blindness.”  It was said partly in jest, but the conversation turned to the idea that technology is becoming a part of us and when you leave a piece of personal electronics behind you actually suffer withdrawal.  Any modern teacher who has watched students in exams fidgeting and anxious will know the truth of this.

That student didn’t just feel like he’d lost a sense while he was away from his Blackberry.  The physical aspect of that very personal piece of electronics was like a missing body part; he even had phantom pains, reaching for it constantly when it wasn’t there.

With the Harry Potter spell casting through technology thing floating around in my head, it seemed a logical next step to look at his smartphone as a horcrux.  These personal pieces of electronics give us senses and abilities that a few years ago would have seemed magical.  

In the case of personal devices like smartphones, tablets and even laptops, especially the really fetishy ones that Apple is famous for (though not exclusively), our tech has become as much a part of who we are as our clothing or other worn, personal icons.  If our personal technology defines us, then it’s a small psychological step from identifying with a physical object to believing our self-worth is an aspect of it.

The difference between passive items like clothes and our interactive tech is that the tech touches our minds as well as our bodies, it feels like a piece of how we think.  From there it’s a small step to feeling like they are part of our core being; a piece of our souls.

When I was a teen, I wanted a car more than anything in the world, it meant freedom and mobility.  I had no interest in cars before I was able to drive, and then I was infatuated with them.  My encyclopedic knowledge of everything build in the ’80s and ’90s is a result of that infatuation (as well as my entirely dodgy string of vehicles).  I’ve been all about anthropomorphizing mechanical devices since I was a kid watching Lost in Space.

The relationship with personal electronics seems destined to eclipse the earlier affection we had for our mechanical devices.  The nature of these electronics means a mental as well as physical interaction, and our adaptable brains are more than ready to accomodate the change.

Voldemort put his soul into horcruxes to prevent his own destruction, much as Sauron did in Lord of the Rings.  The idea of off-loading or decentralizing ourselves to external devices isn’t a new one.  Looking at the involuntary and constant connection to smartphones in today’s teens, it appears to already be happening on a massive scale, and they themselves realize how different it makes them from the people who came before them.

You’ve got to wonder though…  why did these authors always have the villain do this de-humanizing thing for their own self-aggrandizement?

A Quiet Mind

A conversation a colleague tole me about a while back:
Teacher to student:  “You look pensive”
Student: “No, I’m just thinking…”
Before the break we were discussing reflective reading practices in a senior English class.
Students had a real hate on for journal writing while reading.  The argument, when it wasn’t that it was too much work, was that it wasn’t reflective but merely make-work.
Even when journal writing was on the table I had to keep emphasizing that there was to be NO retelling of the story (I’ve read far to many poorly retold stories and they aren’t reflective).  With journal writing off the table, I asked for suggestions and got none whatsoever.
So, students didn’t want to do the standard journal writing assignment for reflecting on their ISU reading, but they didn’t have any other ideas either.  I took a moment and threw out some ideas on our class online discussion board:
  • a prezi mind-map of the story looking at plot/narrative, character, themes, setting and how they interact in the novel over time (a timeline of plot with other idea structures interacting with it might prove interesting and instructive)
  • a series of key moment symbolic representations of the novel, graphic in nature with short written explanations of specific elements in the images and how they relate to the novel
  • a film adaptation pitch, complete with actor, costume, set and prop suggestions linked to specifics (quotes) in the novel.
  • author biographical research review: based on author research, an 4-6 paragraph explanation of how the author’s background plays into specifics in the novel
  • non-journal, but reflective reading notes from when you read the novel (can’t be done after the fact). If you have an extensive set of notes based on the novel as you read it, these might work.
  • Script (or scripted video) of an interview with the author (you have to play the author if you’re videoing it), speculation on themes you’re curious about based on your close reading of the novel.

Even with this many suggestions (and open to others) the class felt that reflecting on their ISU novels was something being done to them.  Unfortunately reflection doesn’t work very well as a forced exercise.

What followed was a brainstorming session about what a meditative, reflective mind looks like:

Yes, I photoboarded that :p

Students found the ideas behind the discussion foreign.  School was something done at them; idea transmission, skill development, habits and bells.  The goals behind reflecting on reading assume many things that most students simply don’t do in school because schools aren’t designed for that kind of thinking.

Meditative response relies on deep reading.  Only an uninterrupted, contemplative reading of a text can get you to a reflective, contextual, personal response.  The hacknied, piece-meal approach to reading that the majority of students undertook (because the assigned reading was ‘done’ to them, and they are in a state of constant digital distraction anyway) precludes reflection.
Even the idea of reflection was foreign.  Students kept asking for clarification on exactly what it was they were supposed to be doing.  What specifically should they write about?  Can they offer opinion?  Do they have to quote the text?  What they were digging for was an ‘A-B-C’, ‘this then that’ set of instructions.  Something easily gradable and fill in the blankable – exactly what school has taught them to expect from learning.
Meditative reading, reflective response, and deep study in general is a dying art.  Artists create using it, scientists invent using it, but students seldom come close to it in school.  Standardization kills it, digitization simplifies it and the marks hungry university bound English student is less interested in developing a quiet, meditative mind that offers deeply connective thinking than they are in keeping it simple, direct and easily achievable.
Post note:
While in teacher’s college I had a senior English student, desperate to squeeze marks out of an assignment begging me for details on his Hamlet grade.  He’d done a good job analyzing the text, though he had made a couple of errors in his explanations of quotes, and didn’t always demonstrate consistent knowledge of the narrative.  He begged for a higher grade than his 93%.  I told him about the errors, but he wanted more grades anyway, so I asked him a harder question: “Years from now you’ll be able to go to Stratford and immerse yourself in a piece of Shakespeare and really enjoy it.  Isn’t that a wonderful thought?  So many people will never get it, but you do, and your understanding will only deepen over the years.  It’s exceptional now, and I don’t doubt it will get better.  Do you really need more numbers on this paper?”  
Turns out he didn’t.


Thanks to @fitfatman I now have a working term for an emergent student behavior:

PHOTOBOARDING: an emerging student response of taking pictures of in-class notes from overheads or the board, rather than writing notes.

In a senior academic English class we began a unit on short stories.  The instructions were complex and specific (across several pages) and involved creating a lesson on the short story of their choice, and then teaching the class that lesson (good prep for university seminar work).

Pretty much every student looked over the paper without reading it, made no effort to create a plan based on the criteria and then talked about their weekend with each other (while occasionally complaining about how much reading was involved with this unit).  It’s a week before the holiday break, they weren’t particularly motivated to be there.  Fortunately universities never set exams or anything important right before the holiday break.

One of the sharp ones came up and asked for clarification.  I spent 20 minutes sketching out a timeline/chart based on the criteria in the assignment with him on the board (in other words, I made notes).  By the end of our chat he had a clear idea of what to do on this specific assignment (I didn’t suggest anything, I simply wrote down what he found in the handout).  He also had a useful means of organizing himself for future assignments.

When we were done half a dozen students came up and took photos of the board with their phone cameras.  There were maybe 50 words in the chart.  In talking to other teachers, this appears to be an emerging student habit, taking pictures of notes written in class.

There are a couple of difficulties with this.

It turns out that writing by hand creates all sorts of interesting neurological connections between the sense experience of hearing and seeing, and the development of memory structures around new ideas.  I’m guessing that the ‘push a button’ approach doesn’t create the same linkages, and doesn’t allow you to work through the material a piece at a time so much as simply grab it up all at once, and they aren’t even the ones doing the grabbing.

The other difficulty lies in what this approach says about what happens in a classroom.  Students often come in after missing a class and ask what they missed.  They expect access to information, easily handed over, often online.  If information transmission is all that happens in the classroom, then you really don’t need a teacher to do that.  If information transmission is the point of education, then we really don’t need many people at all.

In the moment that I modeled, experimented and tried to demonstrate a self-sufficient way for a motivated student to get a handle on complex instructions, I wasn’t merely transmitting information, I was trying to create a memorable moment using written and verbal cues that would give him the tools to deal with this situation in the future.  The notes were an expression of this, but the goal was a change in his behavior that allows him to be more self sufficient and effective in dealing with complex tasks.

Taking a picture of the notes, reducing that moment of teaching to a few pieces of information on the board, fails to recognize the importance of internalizing learning.  If we develop digital habits that limit our ability to effectively remember what happens, and in the process reduce the complex internalization of ideas by simplifying teaching and learning into information transmission, we’re one of the main components in the creation of digital natives who wallow in the shallow end of learning.

Many teachers speak of their students’ horrific memory.  Without the process of deep reading and writing to gradually introduce ideas into our minds, we become surface dwellers, never considering ideas in deep, contextual ways.  Our brains are able to consume great amounts of detail if the information is streamed in (reading and writing happen to do this wonderfully well); snapping a picture does not allow for that.

The mechanics of reading and writing aside, my real concern is in the externalization of ideas.  It is going to become increasingly difficult to teach (encourage growth in understanding and resultant behavior change) if the process of learning is simplified into data transference.  In courses of study that develop complex curriculum over long periods of time (ie: all of them), we are displacing complex neurological actions that develop deep, contextual understanding and provoke personal growth with the click of a button.

As long as technology is seen and sold as a means of simplification and way of reducing effort, we’re doing our students a disservice by pushing it, and ultimately creating imbeciles.  Until we begin to advocate for technology that doesn’t dumb us down, for technology that allows us to effectively complicate and empower our thought processes, we’re part of a major societal problem.

In the meantime, students take photos of notes, replacing a cognitively engaging means of remembering and internalizing new ideas in a personal, contextual manner with the push of a button jpeg.  Most digitally interested teachers would call this efficiency, but we seem to be constantly confusing efficiency with gross simplification.

Why We Remember What We Write

Memory & Writing

What is learning?

Deep Reading & Memory: A professor’s guide to integrating writing…

What You Don’t Know Makes You Smarter

How do you show someone what something really is when they already think they know?

Building digital competency is made harder by the fact that students believe that they already know what they’re doing.  Students who think the our networked world consists of facebook, youtube and Google think they know it all, because it’s all they know.

If we’re going to develop meaningful skill sets in students, we need to break down some long standing habits around believing that computers exist only for recreational use, and show students just how world wide the world wide web really is.

If we can break them out of their habits, and their very limited idea of what computers can do for them, we might be able to break the curse of the digital zombie, and develop some technology savvy students who are able to use technology instead of having technology using them

Operating a computer is like driving a car.  In both cases the technology enhances our natural abilities, and in both cases there is virtually nothing in the way of real understanding of what the technology is doing on the part of most users.  The vast majority of drivers are habitual creatures with little idea of the physics and mechanics behind what they are doing.  The majority of computer users are unimaginative, habitual users of their machines who stay away from experimentation in favour of what they know, mostly for fear of breaking what they know they can’t fix.

I used to think I was a dynamite driver, then I took a performance driving course at Shannonville, and realized how little I knew.  Following this up with a couple of years of cart racing in Japan, and I started to develop the craft of driving, rather than reinforcing the habit.

The defeat of habit in developing skill is the key to mastery.  If you can create a sense of perspective and experimentation with what you know, and what you don’t, you can learn to develop a set of skills beyond what you’ve already habitualized.  If your ignorance restricts you to the idea that you know everything, you are unlikely to ever move beyond that false sense of security and ignorance.

Many of our students live in this cave, watching the flickering lights, thinking that the flicking lights are all there are.  Pulling them out of their habitual ignorance is difficult, and I’ve often found that it’s best served by a drop in the deep end.  I’ve gotten more traction daring students to do something they thought they couldn’t than I ever have doing it for them (again and again).

As long as you can hang in the Zone of Proximal Development, you’ll be able to make them aware of their ignorance while offering them the tools to overcome it; the real heart of the teachable moment.

Saving Us From Ourselves

When I see the vast majority of digital natives (something I’ve raged against previously) attempt to make constructive use of a computer in class, they are constantly sideswiped by how little they know.  Watching my students struggle with their own urge to pointlessness in a blended learning career studies pilot last year was very enlightening.  If you hand them a computer, for the vast majority, the first thing they do is open Facebook, no matter what the reason for working on the computer was, it’s like a digital tether, 90% of their digital self is stored in that one place (the other 10 is on youtube).  College humor hits the digital natives where they live with this.

When a student whose primary relationship with computers is one of entertainment, they have great difficulty thinking of it as anything other than a gaming console for asinine videos and Facebook.

One of Carr’s angles in The Shallows is the loss of deep reading in a digital format.  Our memories can very efficiently manage the linear data stream we generate when we read deeply, but not if we’re continuously interrupted (by links, navbars, hypertext, incoming social media etc).  Interrupted reading (or any kind of interrupted focused attention) results in substantially lower understanding and retention.  This isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact of our biology.

The ‘wild’ (read: increasingly monetized and corporately directed) internet caters to this.  Google thrives on page views and the internet thrives on Google, so the medium has continually evolved into a distraction engine that encourages disrupted thinking and rapid, trivial surfing of web pages.  This isn’t the fault of digital technology, it’s the fault of human beings intent on squeezing wealth from it.

The technology itself could as easily be adapted to protect its users and encourage and engage a focused mind.  Off the top of my head, THIS would be a good start.  We could as easily create deep research apps and other digital tools that encourage and reward focused attention online (we do all the time, they’re games).  The feedback loops I recently read about in WIRED would serve this well.  People wouldn’t be so reckless on the web if their recklessness was quantified.

One of the ways we try to deal with this as educators is to validate fractured thinking.  We start to think that skills like multi-tasking should be assessed and graded.  Multi-tasking isn’t a skill, it’s a series of single tasks we do in a much less effective way.  Rather than encouraging it, we should be angling students toward short term intense focus if they have to deal with multiple tasks.  A quote from M*A*S*H has always stayed with me.  “I do one thing at a time, I do it very well and then I move on.”  It’s from Charles who won’t adopt a meatball surgery approach to his work, he won’t be rushed into doing many things poorly.

If we’re going to be technologically inspired and effective educators (and I desperately think that all teachers must be), then we need to train a very clear eye on what the internet does and how it (dangerously) simplifies our thinking.

In the meantime, herds of edtech educators get giddy about a new app with many flashing buttons on it.

If you don’t use the tools, the tools will use you

@GlblCanuck posted this on our school email today: 

I especially found the last paragraph interesting – a Silicon Valley execs reasons for sending his kids to a school where computers are not allowed in the classrooms.

I’m most of the way through The Shallows and thinking about this as well.

At teacher’s college one of the science guys was making a fake website based on elementary science curriculum that had all wrong content in it (so kids would use it to copy out assignments and then fail).  He was very angry that everyone was so focused on content (which can be easily fabricated) rather than building critical analysis and understanding… it was all about the whats and nothing about the hows and whys.  He thought the righteous digital natives who copy and paste as if they had made it had it coming.  Perhaps we need a Doug Couplandism here, “copying and pasting isn’t writing.”  

If you don’t really grok what you’re presenting as your own work, you’re going to look like a fool.

In relation to the article, digital literacy doesn’t replace the traditional kind.  Computers are never going to replace reading, especially deep reading.  But according to The Shallows, the internet might supplant them, which results in shallow, confused, constantly distracted people with no ability to parse complex thought.  Digital literacy should be trying to prevent that outcome, which I fear is inevitable without intervention.

From a Darwinian perspective, if digitization really does turn much of the population into mentally limited stimulus response monkeys with no ability to parse complex ideas, then the rest of us get to take over in a mighty Geniocractic revolution.

If we don’t learn how to use the tools, the tools will use us.

I’m ok with that as a social Darwinist and a technologist.  I’m not OK with that as a teacher though, and the kickback I keep seeing through The Shallows and now this article make me wonder if this isn’t just the latest in a series of Luddite pushes that rival intelligent design in terms of trying to scare people away from some hard facts.

Computers aren’t here to make your life easier, they’re here to amplify whatever you do, and if that’s sheer stupidity, then you’ll only get stupider in front of one.  Using something without considering how it’s affecting you is not only ignorant, it’s dangerous.

Hence, digital literacy.

ECOO germination

Whole responses on each to follow, but right now here’s what the ECOO 2011 Conference germinated for me:

  • thanks to a question during my Dancing in the Datasphere presentation (which almost 500 people have viewed now!): “has anyone thought though this from a how it harms the students perspective?  Or are we all just rushing to ipad up each child?
I’m now going to research into how tablet displays affect people, especially children, after long term use…
If using these devices is physiologically hurting children, then people need to settle down on the ‘ipad is our savior’ angle and start pushing for a healthier alternative; I know Apple (and others) will deliver.
The ipad at high magnification:
ereader at high magnification:
Late night screen time with children.

We need to pay attention to what long term screen use does to children… especially if we’re going to push for it on a one screen per child basis, which most people at ECOO seemed to be longing for.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge screen geek, we have no less than… 9 screens in our house, but some intelligent analysis can guide us to best use policies with this stuff.

There is a solution to this, but not if we think the ipad is the second coming. A tablet with a screen that can alternate between the benefits of a tablet touch screen and an e-ink screen for ease of reading on the eyes is what we should be demanding in education; if we care about the health of our students.
  • The mini-lab still has a lot of interest behind it.  If we’re going to de-centralize school board IT access, this is a great first step that puts digital literacy back in the hands on teachers.  We need to reclaim digital literacy if we’re going to own and direct it in the future.
  • Diana M’s digital footprint seminar provoked a great deal of discussion.  Someone said that they aren’t going to give the internet to lunatics and perverts in Royan and Zoe’s seminar on a similar subject, and I’m all in with her.  Fear will not guide us in developing coherent digital pedagogy; something I think we need to seriously develop if we’re going to meaningfully adopt social media in a useful manner.
  • The idea of decentralizing school teaching and using technology to adopt student focused and driven learning is divine.  But we’re never going to have it mean anything if the ministry keeps mandating standardized testing and the strictly adhered to curriculums that feed into that testing.  Finland, the number one school system in the world, doesn’t use standardized testing but sets very high standards for its teachers.  Until we do the same, we’re going to stay stuck in third place looking for ways to cheat test results rather than teach students meaningfully.
I’ve still got a lot of ideas swirling around.  More will pop free as the weekend opens up my mind.