Information Literacy Awareness Month

23 10 2009

“None of us really knows how to live in this era of media convergence, collective intelligence, and participatory culture. . . we should not assume that someone possesses media literacy if they can consume but not express themselves.”

Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture (2006.)

We are living in a time of enlightenment.  In our present time, media is being put into the hands of the people in the most democratic fashion we have seen possibly ever in modern history.  Larry Lessig refers to this as the, “revitalization of the read write culture,” which exists in stark juxtaposition to the “read only culture.”  In the “read write culture” participants are encouraged through a democratic processes to engage, create, and share their world with a global community.  Henry Jenkins expresses these ideals as well.  No wonder then that in this birth of the information age, the most forward thinking leaders of the world are turning to literacy, in both the old and new forms, as the tool of exploration.  We are growing in ways that no one can predict where we are headed.  However, it is clear that the old ways will not suffice and that as world citizens we all have a unique responsibility to get on board this train. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama proclaimed October 2009 as Information Literacy Awareness Month.  Backed by clear research into the most progressive forms of education, Obama is calling on the citizens, the schools, and the business’ of our country to join the growing wave of information.  In his proclamation Obama declares, “Rather than merely possessing data, we must also learn the skills necessary to acquire, collate, and evaluate information for any situation.” This is the “read write culture” of today.  No doubt that other enlightened Americans would also agree.  Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Richard Price, 1789, said,  “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government;… whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”  Jefferson also stated, “An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.”  We hold these truths to be more applicable to in our world today than ever before.  Today alone there was over 9,000 hours of YouTube material uploaded, according to figures run by Michael Wesh.  Hence, information is growing massively all the time, and as our access to this information likewise expands, we must engage in this process as responsible citizens living in a democratic time.

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“And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government or information to the people. This last is the most certain and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them. And it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787.

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Give the kid your cellphone number!

22 10 2009

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Most people would consider giving students your cell phone number an easy open door for students to enter and mess with your private life.  Why would any teacher in their right mind encourage phone calls from their students?  Isn’t it a little idealist to think that teenagers won’t abuse your privacy?

These questions certainly raise a lot of fear for many.  Those unfamiliar with the practice of increased connectivity see their lives as over whelmed already.  No wonder then that those teachers complain about their contract hours for work and pay, feel no obligation to reach students outside of the normal contract hours.  One teacher recently said, “that’s nice to give up your family and home time to your students, but what’s next, charging for contact time outside of the normal office hours like lawyers do?”

These same fears are what limit the capacity of education to move at the speed of 21st Century professionals in the free market.  Most teachers in fact don’t feel connected what so ever to the free market and this may truthfully be the key.  Teachers are very concerned these days about test scores and a Darwinian way of educating.  This could be seen as market driven but the reality is that this lessens motivation, engagement, and relationships.  In order for education to move into a new paradigm and in order to prepare our students for the work place demand of jobs yet to be created, teachers themselves need to think like those who work in the market.

In the 1990’s increased productivity brought the stock market to new highs.  Whatever, whenever, wherever technologies allowed huge growth to translate into huge profits.  Multitasking and collaborative efforts lead to more transmission of content knowledge and on wider spread platforms.  Increased connectivity leads to better students, with deeper knowledge, and problem solvers ready at all times for any challenge.  President Obama even announced that teaching contact days should be increased and a move to year round schools would benefit students’ nation wide.  This is increased connectivity.  Teachers must learn from this.

Plans to spur learning are already under way.  Across the nation pioneers still exist.  Many of these pioneers are being armed with the latest tools of human gadgetry are displaying these ideas not in the boardroom but in the classroom.  These teachers are realizing the potential of increased literacy based around a new ideal of literacy where media is seen as a guide to open up the ears, eyes, and souls of students.  The written word is considered as valuable as ever.  More important than test scores, students and teachers are working together to build relationships with a shared vision and understanding.  Compassion and open communication are allowing for a new understanding of a Global community based around democracy and user filtered content.  For those teachers willing to think like a businessman, there is a whole world of wealth and knowledge being explored.  When teachers allow students to call them or instant message them about a homework problem, contact time increases, student productivity is ensured, and relationships are fastened.





Save the Prize

16 10 2009




Katie Bridging the Tech Divide; Engage Me!

11 10 2009

The following come to you from Katie Krueger-Hirt, Masters student at Full Sail University.  This brings out an interesting question of who is leading the way in this new media driven culture.  See my comments below:

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Channel 21st Century Classroom

7 10 2009

Was it only four short years ago that the world was introduced to what is now the most popular media viewing platform, YouTube?  Indeed, it is hard to imagine what life was like before all the emails being sent from friend to friend with the latest laugh reel on YouTube.  With an endless number af channels to choose from and a production staff from all corners of the world, YouTube is reshaping the media’s world in unimaginable ways.  MTV’s early days could easily be compared to YouTube’s own introduction to the media world.  Both have reshaped the media industry.  However, only YouTube is giving teachers a resource worth using in the classroom.

Teachers are now finding just the exact teachable short clip to full documentary to use with students.  In the past month I have shown numerous clips from YouTube channels.  My students are seeing short five minute clips to help effect the lesson or they are watching hour long pieces that would normally cost me countless dollars to purchase the films.  In the past I might have to search out for licensing rights and public relations folks to access major corporate films.  Now, I can access many Discovery Channel, National Geographic, or PBS series’ to bring in to the classroom.  Every subject across every lesson plan can be enhanced through a simple YouTube search.  Students are even finding ways to spread their message through YouTube.

As students learn to develope and play with new media they are excited to publish their own work.  YouTube is giving students public access channels which in the past might mean huge corporate funding or extensive grant writing.  Today, we can implement student news media networks for free and from any computer.  For my students, this means active engagement in their own learning.  Alternative media is allowing students to network within the school and even throughout the community.  With a small cheap video camera and simple editing tools, students are engaged in the uploading process of YouTube in addition to the countless pieces they watch.

Leadership students in my class are utilizing both YouTube and Facebook to spread the word about homecoming this year.  Here is the first YouTube my students deigned, constructed, and shared with the school and the community.  My role was simply a consultant and advisor.  The rest of the work is their own creation.





Google is King of Classroom

7 10 2009

For the first time ever, this school year I have a professional, well designed, fully functioning, multimedia, easy to manage, updated, student centered, classroom website.  I’m not a programmer, tech guru, or even all that savvy with website design or development.  In fact this is the first time I’ve moved to an on-line format to work with students.  High schoolers at Basalt High School are learning to organize, build, share, design, and communicate through their studies of history.  Adding a sense of community, expertise, and life skills allows students to become empowered.  The free and easy to use tool, I have to give credit for, is no other than the magnificent world of Google.

Never again will students have to carry an organized three-ring binder with all their notes and hand outs from my class.  Now students only have to carry their login and password to class.  With Gmail as my central command center, students are communicating with each other through cooperative learning communities both inside and outside the classroom.  I can send easy quick group messages to the entire cohort.  Students are able to IM with each other or myself for extra help from any online location in the world.  When a sick day becomes a reality, even absent students can stay up to date.  From the many benefits of email, Gmail, also provides students with the fastest growing and most versatile word processing program.

Google Docs is re-framing how students create and share their work.  Every assignment is being handed in via Google Docs.  This allows both the student and myself to stay organized.  I can see exact times and dates that work was turned in.  Never again can a kid make excuses about leaving their work at home on their home machine.  The amount of free storage space allows students to create and save everything online including documents, power points, and even spread sheets.  Never agin will a kid say, “I lost my flash drive.”  In the collaborative nature of school today a big focus is turning to peer editing.  Students are using peer editing to assist each other in cooperative learning communities.  As a teacher I can see who is editing and the types of comments that are being made.  These comments can provide me with an informal assessment.  In addition Google provides the platform for me to keep all my content in one easy to use website.

Google Sites provides a user friendly, template type, website for Google users.  With a little sense of exploration and willingness to take risks, novice web designers, like myself, can build and design a beautiful web site with endless possibilities.  I have links, embedded video footage, maps, quizzes, announcements, notes, study guides, and a slew of tools for my students to access.  I even have linked the textbook we use to an available source through my site.  Kids are able to access my site and see exactly what we did in class today.

For kids learning through a platform as strong and capable as Google Sites, Docs, or Gmail, student worries become hassle free.  Organization skills become as easy as accessing documents by subject or date.  Updated information and constant support is provided.  Increased connectivity is influencing student engagement and active learning.  As a teacher, I recommend that any teacher looking to create 21st Century learning environments being to take advantage of this free and simple Web 2.0 application.  If only I could get an app to put all this on my cell phone…. wait, I think they are advertising for that app on T.V. right now… What’s next?  Cell phones in the classroom?

Visit the home page of Seann Goodman and his students!

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http://sites.google.com/site/seanngoodman/home





Ethics: A basis for cellphones in class

17 04 2009

Many folks argue that cell phones don’t belong in the school setting.  In an NEA article, teachers are surveyed about their opinions of cell phones in class. Most opinons in this national survey are very biased and narrow minded.  These apprehensive teachers are not only unaware of the advantages to cell phones as a learning tool, but they themselves seemed threatened.  Certainly we can all make a list of reasons to ban phones from class use but how many can come up with reasons to support the use of this Web 2.0 tool?  Among many cell phone applications available for free online, their are some life long lessons that cell phones can help educators convey to their students.  Schools and teachers who support the use of cell phones in class comes down to a matter of teachers pedagogical attitude towards using technology.  The greatest lessons that I teach as a an educator deal less with content and more with life lessons.  Lessons regarding decision making, moral attitudes, and ethics are the ones that leave students engaged, inspired, and thinking..

“Why would you give out your phone number to students?  Why would you invite students to text to other students in class?  Aren’t you worried they will use this network to cheat?”

These questions are fair to ask in this debate.  However, the discussion that can be followed with students in class regarding ethical use of phones is a much greater discussion.  How can we use these tools to our advantage?  These are the questions teachers need to focus on.  Otherwise we run the risk of being another stick on the mud.  Advocates of cell phones in class point out the benefit to schools tech departments, when you consider 4 out of 5 students have cell phones, this increases the number of computers available to students instantly.  Leaders of schools who use cell phones in class have created rules that students can agree to and learn by.  Kipp Rodgers, Principal of Mary Passage Middle School in Newport News, Vrigina, “developed an acceptable use policy. They are not to send text messages to anyone outside the building during class hours. They are not to take photos. They are not allowed to upload anything to YouTube or other Internet sites not approved by the school.”  These rules create a sense of right, which students need more and more in this ever dynamic technology society.  Students engage in learning, feel connected to the real world, and adopt a fair use policy.  In my own classroom setting, I find that kids are aware of all the negatives that teachers and parents fear about inapproriate use of the internet and technology.  When we open up the discussion with kids, instead of dictating our our bias’, we create a world of self-awareness and community.