Sharing, Trust and the Future : Tech Task #3

22 01 2010
View more documents from Alec Couros.
    I’ll use this blog to comment on what I found to be the most compelling parts of the presentation Dr. Couros gave to our ECMP 355 class today called “Rethinking Teaching and Learning in a Networked Reality”.  Check out the slideshare above!
      Thoughts, thoughts, and more thoughts:
        …Sharing…

        Slide 14

        Slide 25

        Slide 56

        Slide 58

        Probably what seems the most interesting and revolutionary to me right now in terms of technology and education are the many types of incredibly helpful social networking options available online.  Adults are always insisting that children need to learn to share.  Right there is a fundamental golden rule that has been around for all time.  Really, the true, raw meaning of the concept of sharing has not changed all that much, but the ways in which you can share with others, who you can share with, and what you can share with them, has.  Let’s not be afraid of that!
        We have always been able to share our toys, our lunches, our package of skittles, our clothes and our money.  We can still share all of those things, only now we can also share videos, music, articles, slide shows, presentations, within seconds.  These things we share go further than just our families, friends, classmates and teachers.  We can share across borders and oceans in real time.  We can share with the whole world, and the whole world can share with us.  You’d think that any adult, administrator, parent or teacher who has been trying to drill the concept of sharing into children for years would think that this was a thing of beauty!  We are living in a time of powerful sharing…it is time for all educators to embrace the educational, professional, and personal opportunities that come with it.
          I am no genius, but in my opinion, social networking tools are here to stay.  Whatever risks can be associated with social networking on the internet, I think that the benefits are far greater.  This is because there are so many opportunities to use social networking tools in ways that are safe, controlled, even selectively private.  For example, people who use Facebook can choose their friends and control all of their privacy settings.  Users of Twitter can choose who to follow and can block users they do not want following them.  On our class Ning site, visitors can see the main page containing relevant and interesting topic about our class, technology and education, while only members can view the discussion forums, member pages, groups and photos.  On a site like Class Blogmeister, teachers have to approve content before it becomes public. Ultimately when it comes to risk and privacy, I think it is up to the user to be safe on the internet.  Everybody has a choice about what to put out on the internet.  I know that others can potentially get a hold of things you wouldn’t want on the internet and post them somewhere, but if that is the case then perhaps you should not have those artifacts floating around in the first place.  I think that internet modesty coincides with modesty in general.
            There lies the role of us educators.  Students, beginning at very young ages, are media and internet users.  To ignore this is to be apathetic about the kind of digital citizens they are and will become.  If we care so much about citizenship in the world, why not care equally as much about digital citizenship?  It is, after all, a huge part of the person students are and will become.
              …Trust…

              Slide 43

              Slide 45

              Slide 32

              Slide 43 packed a powerful message: “Dear teachers, we trust you with the children, but not the internet, yours truly, THE ADMINISTRATION” (via @mcleod).  I definitely don’t think that all administrators think that way, but I’m guessing that some do.  You can see it in the lack of computer access in some classrooms, the number of blocked web pages on school servers, including email, and in the refusal to allow certain activities on the internet.  For example, at a school where I taught I asked if I could post a photo including myself and some students without the name of the school or the names of the students attached onto my website.  Every student in the photo and their parents had given me permission, and I checked with the school board to make sure my intentions fit the media release policy.  Though all other pathways seemed clear, a member of the administration still felt uncomfortable with the idea and asked me not to.  I tried again to ask about a photo where only the backs of students heads were showing (again, all had permission) but there was no pushing it further.  This wasn’t really a major loss to my plans, but it made me wonder…can we be too careful with the internet?  What opportunities are we missing out on if we decide to trust nobody?  Probably the same kinds of opportunities we would miss out on if we decided to trust nobody in our non-internet related lives: say goodbye to meeting people who can help you and enhance your experiences, to stumbling across things you would never have found if you hadn’t gone down an unknown path, to windows and doors opening all around you.
                It is important to know when to make the decision not to trust someone on the internet (inappropriate emails or comments, asking for too much information, not respecting boundaries of privacy, etc), but it is also important to know how to look for and find people you can trust on the internet.  Good people, just like you and me, use the internet too.
                  When it comes to internet content being blocked at schools, I think maybe I am a fence sitter.  While I don’t necessarily think it is a good idea to have inappropriate images/media floating around in schools, I think that if there is an issue out there (i.e. inappropriate content on the internet…), ignoring it does not make it go away, nor does it equip students with what they need in order to make smart decisions about internet safety.  If there are inappropriate things in the world, and on the internet, then most children see them or will see them.  They don’t all live the sheltered lives we sometimes tend to think they do.  But if there is a responsible adult, like a teacher, around when those things come up, that adult can help children to understand things that are inappropriate and learn not to choose them or look for them again.
                    …The Future…

                    Slide 72

                    Slide 23

                    Slide 75

                    The most important revelation in the presentation for me was this: We don’t have to know everything.  Now, we have to know how to connect to different people who know more than us.  As long as people grow up thirsting to learn, and knowing how to learn within our connected world, they won’t ever be at a loss for knowledge.  They don’t always need to carry specific knowledge with them.  As a professional, I don’t carry all of the outcomes in the Saskatchewan Evergreen Curriculum Guide with me.  I consult other teachers, experts, and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education’s website, where I have access to all the bare bones knowledge I need about the curriculum.

                      I love David Wiley’s chart “Education vs. Everyday”.  What I like about it is that it is identical to his chart entitled “Then vs. Now”, yet with a different heading.  “Education” in many ways is still stuck in the elements of our “then” world (i.e. analog, tethered, isolated, generic, consumption, closed), whereas our “Everyday” lives have moved on to what is happening “now” (i.e. digital, mobile, connected, personal, creating, open).  In a sense, we are educating children for education.  Children don’t stay in education forever.  They have everyday lives to lead.  We should be educating them in and for the everyday.

                        One of my favourite things to think about these days is the shift from students as consumers of knowledge to creators of knowledge.  That is so empowering!

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