Teaching Participatory Media and Democracy (AERA, Part 4)

Let’s begin with the critique of this panel’s main premise, that social media is transforming civic education and participatory democracy. That critique was the what discussant Joel Westheimer (University of Ottawa) offered. From his perspective, the technologies that allow us to use social media — the mobile web with apps, the ability to find, share, and remix multiple forms of media relatively easily — do not fundamentally change civic participation. In one sense, I appreciate his willingness to keep us all from drinking the kool aid, and to bring his perspective as a veteran civic educator to think about the implications, or not, of social media. That said, many if us disagreed.

Thus, the panelists shared their experiences working with youth in projects surrounding civic engagement and social media, including a fantastic presentation by Antero Garcia. There is much more to talk about from his presentation, let alone the entire panel, than I can capture here, yet one rhetorical move that he made which was truly effective was to show an image of his school, taken from a news helicopter, in a lockdown. Outside the school, police patrolled and kept students and teachers locked inside for about seven hours because a “latino male” in a white t-shirt had been spotted in the area with a gun, all the while playing out on television news. The blatant uses of power and authority to, quite literally, turn the school into a prison where the innocent were incarcerated as guilty has so many levels for critical interpretation and analysis that I could write a dissertation on it. In short, Antero made it clear that he invites his students to use social media in ways that push against the dominant narratives of race, class, and prejudice that infiltrate his students’ lives.

As I continue to think about how to frame the conversation about digital writing for my next book, there is no doubt that I will have to include social media. As I think about the ways in which most students, especially teens, experience and use social media, my strong suspicion is that they still don’t see this as an act of writing (as this WIDE report from a few years back shows), thus they don’t frame it as a rhetorical situation. For K12 students, especially those growing up with 1:1 opportunities in their homes and schools, this is a significant oversight on the part of writing teachers. And, as this panel from AERA shows, the fact of the matter is that social media pervades our lives and communities, so we better figure out how to invite students to compose with these broader audiences and purposes in mind.

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School Reform, Digital Learning, Online Privacy, and Food Waste

Here we are with another month having passed us by and it seems like I’m struggling with a number of issues related to digital learning, in some senses, but more broadly on issues of school reform and how we will ever be able to set the ship of education sailing in the right direction again. So, this is a random series of thoughts for a single blog post, and yet I wanted to share them before this week gets underway. I promise that I will try to tie them all together in the end.

School Reform

Over the past month, I’ve been in a variety of twitter conversations with really smart people about the issue of school reform and high school dropouts and, subsequently, on two episodes of Teachers Teaching Teachers. Couple this with conversations I’ve been having with my wife about the future of our children school district which, like many in Michigan, is facing unrealistic budget constraints, declining enrollments, and mounting obstacles to real improvement. all of these conversations are interesting, and there was one recent blog post by John Merrow that captures nearly all of the frustrations I think many educators share. In particular, I found myself tweeting back and forth with Lisa Nielsen, arguing the merits of homeschooling (or alternatives to models of “schooling”). Here’s a clip:

hickstro: @InnovativeEdu Great convo on TTT. Still, what is it schls can/could do well/better than a lone student guided only by his/her own passions?10:12pm, Feb 22 from Web

InnovativeEdu: @hickstro The idea of “lone student” is a fallacy. A student has plenty of resources at their fingertips. Many are blocked/banned by school10:13pm, Feb 22 from Web

hickstro: @innovativeedu I’m happy that my 2nd grader turns to Google for info for his animal report. But he turns to me for advice on writing it.10:16pm, Feb 22 from HootSuite

InnovativeEdu: @hickstro – Why are you only seeing choices as school or Google? Many are learning w/out school & with relevant learning.10:43pm, Feb 22 from Web

hickstro: @innovativeedu I hear you. There is more than school or Google. The best parents are going to provide rich experiences for their children.10:58pm, Feb 22 from HootSuite

InnovativeEdu: @hickstro Or…the best parents will support their children in pursuing & developing rich experiences.11:03pm, Feb 22 from Web

hickstro: @innovativeedu So, is this a school problem? Or a parenting problem?11:06pm, Feb 22 from HootSuite

InnovativeEdu: @hickstro what i am talking abt is a school problem cuz there are PS students that don’t have involved parents so they need school.11:10pm, Feb 22 from Web

hickstro: @innovativeedu I’d like to think more… what can the best elements of home schooling offer schools? What can schools offer home schooling?11:13pm, Feb 22 from HootSuite

InnovativeEdu: @hickstro Many of these questions have been answered. Government won’t fund it. How do we change that? Feb 22, 11:16pm via Web

There were others involved in this conversation including Teresa Bunner, and it came at the end of a very smart episode of TTT, so there’s little bit out of context here in this blog post. I’m not sure what else say about all of it at the moment, that this will be an interesting spring as my personal life —  and education of our five children —  seem to be on a collision course with my professional life and what I truly value about schools, education, and learning.

Digital (Peer) Learning

Speaking of school (or, in this case, not school) and learning, I will be facilitating a course in Peer 2 Peer University, also known as P2PU, beginning next week with my NWP colleagues, Christina Cantrill and Katherine Frank: Writing and Inquiry in the Digital Age.  Focusing broadly on what it means to write in the digital age, my particular interest with this course is thinking carefully about how and why we can use curation tools for teaching and learning. Sure, I am riding on the coattails of the Pinterest craze and advocating for this is one of our foci. Still, I’m trying to figure out how this can be a useful tool after a conversation earlier this semester with Andrea, Leigh, and some others educators. For what it’s worth, I’ve started a board, “Content/Creation/Curation,” and already received my first comment: “I THINK YOU PEOPLE SHOULD JUST LEAVE PINTEREST ALONE! & let people like ME JUST ENJOY IT!”

Indeed. I will try.  Join the conversation at P2PU over the next few weeks.

Online Privacy

In my next seemingly random entry for the evening, I want to mention that I will be speaking this week at one of CMU’s “Speak Up, Speak Out” forums entitled “R They Watching U? Technology, Surveillance, Censorship & Privacy Rights.” Here’s the lowdown:

Date: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Time: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Location: Bovee UC: Auditorium

Speak Up, Speak Out: The Current Events Series presents “R They Watching U? Technology, Surveillance, Censorship & Privacy Rights.” SUSO is not a lecture series – it’s more like a town hall meeting called to discuss important events and topics in the news. Each forum is an opportunity for all participants to collaborate in thinking through the issues, identify problems, and consider solutions. For more information, visit the SUSO website. The forum facilitator is Justin Smith (SASW). Panelists include: Christopher Armelagos, graduate student; Amanda Garrison, Sociology; Troy Hicks, English; Jaime Humpert, student; Roger Rehm, CMU’s Chief Information Officer; and Ken Sanney, Finance & Law.

If there are enough of my colleagues who might be interested, I’ll certainly start the twitter back channel for this conversation as well, and could even open it up as a video feed on a Google hangout. let me know if you’re interested.

And, Finally, Food Waste

So, in the wonder of all things digital, I was enjoying Netflix this morning during my jog on the treadmill, And ran across this short documentary: Dive! Living Off America’s Waste. Tonight, we have the kids watch it with us, for two reasons. First, there’s the obvious social commentary that I want them to understand  about food waste and all the issues about consumerism, consumption, environmental quality, and related ideas. Second, I found myself fascinated by the production of the film itself as a digital writing process. Jeremy Seifert appears to have produced this film in a manner that could be replicated by middle and high school students with a basic HD camera, a simple movie editing program, some creativity, and a lot of determination. I appreciated the mix of interviews, B roll footage, archival footage (most of which appeared to be from historical, public domain archives), stop motion animation, and the creative representation of food throughout. I think that the kids appreciated it, too, and my hope is that our two Girl Scouts might take this idea up as part of their social action project. At any rate, at the end of the week where I feel professionally helpless and I’m not sure to what I am doing is making much of a difference, it was good to see Jeremy’s film and to think about the power that a few good people can have in affecting change.

So, that was a mishmash of ideas for one evening. But, that’s what blogging is for, right?

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Notes from Lisa Dawley’s “The Evolution of Teacher Education in a Digital Learning Era” at SITe 2010″

The Evolution of Teacher Education in a Digital Learning Era: Transforming Knowledge in the Global Network

Lisa Dawley, Boise State University
  • The Unavoidable Evolution in Teacher Education
    • Travels around the world, others saying that American students are creative; yet, still calls for reform, especially in teacher education, keep happening here in US
    • New US EdTech plan, too
  • Growth in Online Education
    • Over 1 million K-12 kids learn online; 47% increase in the past two years
    • Fall 2007, 20% of college student were enrolled in an online course
    • 45 states offer some kind of state supplemental program online, as well as fully online K-12 programs offered as charter schools
    • Idaho K12 virtual schools — 14,000 students enrolled last year
  • K12 Online Options
    • Moving along a continuum from traditional integrated tech classroom to hybrid course to online tech enhanced schools to full-time virtual schooling
    • Other hybrids exist, including options that are in brick and mortar schools and homeschools
    • iNACOL – The International Association for K-12 Online Learning
  • Effects of online learning report
    • The effectiveness of online learning is tied to learning time, curriculum, pedagogy, and opportunities for collaboration
    • Gives learners control of their interactions with media… move, use, remix, edit, build, chance, click, interact, change…
    • Online learning can be enhanced by prompting learner reflection
    • What doesn’t impact learning
      • Incorporating online quizzes
      • Media combinations don’t matter, but control over them does
    • Henry Jenkins and participatory culture: MIT TV clip
  • Pedagogical Framework from Dawley: Social Network Knowledge Construction
    • Identify
    • Lurk
    • Contribute
    • Create
    • Lead
  • How do we design programs to rethink teacher education?
    • At Boise State, it is only graduate degrees and certificates
    • Fully online for past seven years; students throughout the world
    • Moved from Blackboard to Moodle, integrating web 2.0 tools into portal
    • Integration of videos from YouTube, TeacherTube, WatchKnow
    • Avatar creation through Voki and SitePals
    • Graphic blogs through Glogster
    • 3D learning games such as Conspiracy Code
  • Open source and free content
    • iTunesU
    • 3D virtual worlds: Opensource metaverse, croquet
    • Moodle learning management systen
  • Mobile learning
    • Educational apps
    • Texting
    • LMS access
    • Multimedia
    • GPS-based curriculum
    • In three years, mobile devices will become the main interface used to browse the internet
  • Exergaming
    • State-wide online tournaments for gaming
  • Innovative courses, participatory networks
  • Help lead the teacher education revolution


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Notes from Erin Reilly’s “Remix Culture for Learning” at SITE 2010

The Gap Between Life and Art: Remix Culture for Learning

Erin Reilly, University of Southern California


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Dr. Yong Zhao – Keynote Highlights

Highlights from the keynote address at the St. Clair RESA Symposium on 21st Century Learning

August 13, 2008

Port Huron High School

Yong Zhao, MSU

  • Mistakes with technology and schools
    • Solution seeking problems — we put technology in school,
      but the problems were not there or evident
    • Trusting the wrong agent — Whose machine is it? The
      teachers? The students? What purpose does it serve?
    • Student attention and time — teacher, computer, books,
      other technologies, other students
    • Technology environment — we talk about
      student-to-computer ratio, but we should be talking about the entire
      school ecosystem
    • Lack of systems thinking — The jet engine on the horse
      wagon: Seymour Papert wondered if we would even turn on the engine or
      if it would destroy the wagon?
    • Didn’t anticipate major transformation — bringing one
      car to the road, then hundreds, thousands, and millions

      • Virtual marriage — the effects of socializing
        virtually (iapartment)
      • Second Life — buying real estate, products, engaging
        in educational practices
      • Gold farming — kids playing virtual games in China in
        “gaming factories”
  • What can we do?
    • In schools, we have not thought about how to realign the
      human/machine relationship

      • Personal response systems
      • New Era Interactive English, Tsinghua University Press
      • Online Chinese Language Courses
    • We always need to anticipate the long term changes, not
      just the short term effects

      • Start with problems, re-imagining education
      • Develop enabling conditions
      • Reconfigure traditional institutions
      • Virtual schools and tutoring
      • Working with “digital natives”
    • “We shape our buildings; therefore they shape us.” —
      Winston Churchill
    • From Dictatorship to democracy: personal learning
      environments

      • Personalized goals, curriculum, learning approaches,
        pace, and instruction

Notes and Reaction from “Growing Up Online”

Here are some notes and reactions to the “Growing Up Online” special as it goes…

  • Some initial introductions, showing students as deceptive about online activity and generally showing parents as luddites
  • Scenes from schools, teachers claiming that they need to be “entertainers” and that it is difficult for students to focus and can not be engaged in thoughtful discussion
    • Students who haven’t read books because they don’t have time; rule at high school that they aren’t supposed to be using Spark Notes — is this cheating?
    • Students have to submit papers to turnitin.com; searching for instances of plagiarism
    • Do we fight against this, or accept it as reality as how the outside world works — borrowing and stealing as cheating or not
    • “Fighting the good fight” — to keep up educational standards
  • Social networking — the hub of online social life
    • Kids vie forgetting the most friends through MySpace or Facebook — you have to admit that you only know a few of the friends that you meet online
    • These are also the place where kids seem to hash out their conflicts, too
    • Fight recorded and put on YouTube; students reflected on the implications for college and jobs
    • Things that adults take seriously – discretion and privacy – are taken for granted
  • Relationships
    • Sending pictures in provocative settings
    • “You kinda want to look hot, but not too hot”
    • Social networking as a digital representation of identiy; teens are trying on different identities — C.J. Pascoe, Berkely
  • Example of Jessica Hunter
    • Was made fun of in school, led to insercurity
    • Online, she was reborn as “Autumn Edows” and her parents didn’t know
    • Dad – she just disappeared and we would never see here
    • I was fourteen, but looked older and people started noticing – “I was on the computer all day, replying… It was crazy, but I loved it.”
    • “I didn’t feel like myself, but I liked that I didn’t feel like myself.”
    • Dad – call from principal, another parent saw a picture that was “pornographic” as far as she was concerned
    • Jessica’s parents took the computer and looked at every single file – where does the information go and how is it perceived
    • The fame and hundreds of friends were gone as quickly as it had begun – “It seems stupid that I am getting upset over it… but having it taken away is your worst nightmare.”
    • “My fear is that my good kids will make a bad decision… and will pay for it permanently.”
  • Safety and social networking
    • Safe community, but social networking has punctured the safety net
    • What if a stalker gets obsessed with my children?
    • Kids think that nothing bad can happen to them
    • Media coverage of online predators; To Catch a Predator
    • Congressional hearings on predators
    • Son – my mom has always been catious, yet she is overbearing and is having a hard time getting past that
    • One family computer is stationed in the computer
    • Who gets the passwords – should the mom have access to them? Daughter – “It’s my own stuff”
    • “My parents forget that I have been online since second grade.”
    • Only one major study of predators online by Department of Justice that showed most kids know to avoid predatory practices online.
    • Kids engage in a lot more risky behavior offline. Most solicitations were very slight – Danah Boyd
    • Need to begin thinking about what students can do to each other
  • Sara – eating disorders
    • I have a happy-go-lucky life, and then the real life online; thinspiration
    • I will go online and be the anorexic person that I am – some days I am completely ana, other days I am not
    • My parents know nothing is that I like to eat healthy and exercise
  • Sharing on the internet
    • Putting myself out there
    • Power to act on impulse and that is where trouble happens
    • Example of students posting video from concert – some parents were appreciative, and others were mad
    • Students were mad, too, because they were getting in trouble
    • Mom – it is really hard to be on the other side, even though I remember keeping secrets
    • What is next – where else will they hang out that we can’t find them, control them?
  • Cyberbullying
    • Boy who committed suicide after being bullied
    • Others who didn’t realize what was happening, including parents who thought bullying was at school
    • When a popular girl flirted with him on IM, she humiliated him at school
    • the computer amplified the pain that he was feeling in the real world
    • The internet has become a new weapon in the adolescent arsenal
    • We need to teach them good cybercitizenship
  • Fundamental change in the way of life today — Danah Boyd
    • Jessica back online as Autumn Edows
      • Dad — looking for a way to create and reach out
      • My parents do support me
    • Sarah — told parents about eating disorder

Join the conversation online: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/kidsonline/talk/

The program provided a thoughtful analysis of adolescents and their online lives, including some of the positive possibilities that kids can engage in as they compose alternative identities. Of course, the dangers were explored, yet they were contextualized in a smart way and in contrast to what we see in traditional news media (for instance, who are the predators and how are kids approached). One thing that I was disappointed about (in the general trends of teens online, not the program itself) was how many of the teens presented are really only using the internet for social networking and feeding their narrow interests, whereas only one teen was shown seriously reconsidering her identity and the positive implications that brought. Where are the kids who are — in thoughtful and productive ways — creating their own content and distributing it to a worldwide audience? What are we doing to push them to use the potential of the internet beyond simply being on Facebook? All in all, a very useful report, one that I might use to show students in my classes.

Frontline’s “Growing Up Online” – Tuesday, January 22 @ 9:00

My friend Jim sent this along to me and I thought that it might be of interest to many of you, especially those of you who are parents. I am going to try to watch it and would be interested in hearing your thoughts and reactions to it.

FRONTLINE: coming soon: growing up online | PBS

FRONTLINE INVESTIGATES THE RISKS, REALITIES AND MISCONCEPTIONS OF TEEN LIFE ON THE INTERNET

FRONTLINE presents
GROWING UP ONLINE

Tuesday, January 22, 2008, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS

http://www.pbs.org/frontline/kidsonline

Jessica Hunter was a shy and awkward girl who struggled to make friends at school. Then, at age 14, she reinvented herself online as “Autumn Edows,” an alternative goth artist and model who posted provocative photos of herself on the Web, and fast developed a cult following. “I just became this whole different person,” Jessica tells FRONTLINE. “I didn’t feel like myself, but I liked the fact that I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like someone completely different. I felt like I was famous.”

News of Jessica’s growing fame as Autumn Edows reached her parents only by accident. “I got a phone call, and the principal says one of the parents had seen disturbing photographs and material of Jessica,” her father tells FRONTLINE. “They were considered to be pornographic. … I had no idea what she was doing on the Internet. That was a big surprise.”

In Growing Up Online, airing Tuesday, January 22, 2008, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), FRONTLINE takes viewers inside the private worlds that kids are creating online, raising important questions about just how radically the Internet is transforming the experience of childhood. “It’s just this huge shift in which the Internet and the digital world was something that belonged to adults, and now it’s something that really is the province of teenagers, “ says C.J. Pascoe, a Ph.D. scholar with the University of California, Berkeley’s Digital Youth Project. “They’re able to have a private space, even while they’re still at home. They’re able to communicate with their friends and have an entire social life outside of the purview of their parents without actually having to leave the house.”

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