For My Summer 2008 C&I 401 Students

First of all, I commend all of you on a great Week 1. You’ve completed several tasks that have pushed you into new areas of technology use. Great job!

I just finished reading all of your entries into Discussion 1 and had a great time seeing the wheels turning as you processed the Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us video. I’m excited for all of you as you jump into the Read/Write web with both feet. This is the #1 reason I introduced the Participatory Web in Week 1. Teachers all over the world are doing amazing things as a result of the tools. You’ll see many examples throughout the next 5 weeks. I have much to say in response to your postings, so instead of creating a podcast or sending out an email, I thought I would use one of the most powerful Web 2.0 tools that I use, my blog.

First, let’s talk about Internet Safety. Many of you expressed concern about keeping our children safe – this is a very legitimate issue that needs to be addressed. It’s important to know that our students can be safe if we teach them how. Too often, school boards and districts, teachers, and parents use the Ostrich Safety Method: block everything and don’t talk about it. This is not a sound educational method. We teach kids “Stop, drop, roll” … “When you hear the siren, go under the table (California) … or … go to the basement (midwest).” Why don’t we teach how to be safe from the earthquake or storm that might be lurking online? A quick search on Google for “Internet Safety” returned 99, 700,000 hits. Many educators are addressing this issue pro-actively. Blogs, wikis, and other Web 2.0 tools can be controlled by teachers. It’s simple, you ok every post before it is published – before the students see them. The bottom line, the news media loves to sensationalize everything – this topic is not an exception. Last, there is no substitute for parental guidance – so as you’re educating yourself, your colleagues and administrators, educate the parents also.

Second, I want to encourage you to begin using Mozilla Firefox instead of other web browsers. Firefox has much tighter controls to stop pop-ups; since switching a couple of years ago I have virtually no pop-up adds or undesirable sites. There is even a parental control suite for Firefox called Glubble Family Edition. In addition, Firefox has 100’s of add-ons that provide shortcuts and instant information – I always know what the weather is and the forecast just by looking at the bottom of my web window – I use Forcastfox.

Last, I want to talk about Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). With the advent of Web 2.0, and thousands of educators joining the club, your ability to get and stay connected with like-minded and different-minded educators is unlimited. This club is not exclusive, like jr/sr high or the country club. The educators who I’ve met online are open, willing to share and listen, and collaborative. To get you started, I suggest signing up for Twitter and begin following folks. Once you create a profile, you can go to my Twitter account and see who I’m following. You can also go to Who Should I Follow? and see what Twitter comes up with. Twitter provides me with a daily professional development workshop – I’m learning something new every day.

Next week I’ll share Delicious and Diigo, so stay tuned.

See you all online,
Dr. T

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4 thoughts on “For My Summer 2008 C&I 401 Students

  1. Dr. T: Your post made me reflect on the day we had the earthquake here recently in the Midwest – we can’t be completely prepared for all the dangers in life, especially those you least expect. I’ve had my fair share of experiences where I’ve sent learners out to the web to “find something” and what they find through usually innocent searching ends up in a questionable result. I’ve learned from this to never plan “random searching” in a lesson. Usually at least the foundational sites I begin with are pre-selected and screened. Or, think of those times you’ve had someting undesirable come up on a projected image when you’re fumbling in a class to type a URL and mistype it by only one letter. I’ve stopped using the sites http://www.cooltext.com and flamingtext.com at least on screen at the front of the room because of the ads that appear. I think what’s fundamentally important, as it relates to your post, is that we can’t (shouldn’t) hide but we should be informed and prepared about what could happen and how we can react for the best and safest result!!

  2. Pingback: Daily Bookmarks 05/24/2008 « Experiencing E-Learning

  3. For people who haven’t put much (or anything) online, I use the analogy of a big city.

    There are millions of people online at this moment. Like the people you’d see as you passed through London or Tokyo, most of them aren’t out to get you. They’re going about their own lives, and if you happen to bump into them, you probably have something in common, even if it’s simply reading the same page at the same time.

    Some small percentage of the people you could meet are unpredictable, disagreeable, self-absorbed, immature, or on a mission you’d rather not hear about. Just as you can step off the bus or go into a different restaurant, you can turn away from what you don’t want to be around.

    As for the tiny group who are malevolent, in real life you usually know what areas to stay away from; online, they can’t jump out of your monitor and get you. And just as you wouldn’t stroll down the street with hundred-dollar bills dangling from your pockets, online you won’t freely share information would wouldn’t give to the disagreable, immature, or malevolent.

  4. Dave,

    That’s a great analogy, and having grown up in West Los Angeles, on Sepulveda Blvd., I know exactly what you’re talking about. Maybe we city dwellers have a better understanding … or a more developed sense … of impending danger around every corner. As an LA native, I knew exactly why I needed to be home before dark as a kid, where not to walk by myself, and where not to get off the freeway.

    What you don’t know, Dave, unless you’re familiar with where I’m teaching, is that many of my students (current K-12 teachers) are living in small towns in the middle of Illinois. I don’t know how many of them grew up in the city. But I do know that after living here for 6 years, I’ve lost some of my city edge – I’m trusting more. We’ve left the house unlocked, garage door open, and nothing happened. In LA everything would have been gone … but I never would have forgotten … my guard would be up.

    Because the Web is a social environment we carry our social skills, norms, and mores into our interactions on the Web – whether it’s how we react to pop-ups (which I don’t have anymore because I use Firefox), spam, or people.

    Moral of the story: Treat your interactions on the Web just like you would respond in the city streets. As my husband told me when we were walking around Philadelphia in 2006, “Don’t look people in the eyes, it’s not the safe thing to do in the city.” On the Web, don’t respond first and find out later who you’re responding to. Be proactive and find out first, then, if it’s safe, respond.

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