Archive

Posts Tagged ‘myspace’

Teens protecting themselves

July 31st, 2007 Dennis Harter 1 comment

Not to belabor a point, but here’s another article on social networking safety. In particular, I like this quote:

Increasingly, it’s the teens who are starting to protect themselves.

According to the article, a Pew Internet & American Life Project study indicates that about 1/4th of teens with online profiles use their full name and only 11% make them visible to the public eye. Most are marking their sites as private, only for friends (or people they claim to know…an important distinction that we can’t forget).

I like the sound of this. My worry has been that we need to teach this stuff…I think that we still do. But it’s good to know that despite our slowness to change in schools, that kids are figuring this stuff out. Not enough though, as I mentioned in another post.

Safety by accidentStill, this is good news. With our help, just imagine how safe they could be.

Then again they are also still behaving irresponsibly…and that’s our job too.

Here are some other stats (good news and bad news) from that same study that the Washington Post shared in another article:

  • 82% include their first name.
  • 79% post photos of themselves.
  • 66% include photos of their friends.
  • 61% include the name of their city.
  • 49% include the name of their school.
  • 40% have included an instant-message screen name.
  • 40% stream audio to the profile.
  • 39% link to a blog.
  • 29% include an e-mail address.
  • 29% included their last name.
  • 29% post videos.
  • 2% include a cellphone number.

And if you are really interested here’s a third WashPosting with data on teens and maintaining privacy from that same Pew study.

By the way…I’m back from vacation…lots to do…write…think….not in that order, I hope.

Photo found through Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo by Endlisnis.

"The Resilient Power of Common Sense" – Wikipedia in the Economist

March 20th, 2007 Dennis Harter No comments

(originally posted on harterlearning on Mar 12, 2007)

The Economist just ran an article on Wikipedia, which while behind the times for us in ed. tech. blogging, is a good indicator on how the rest of the web-not-quite-2.0 world perceives it or will come to perceive it. After all, the Economist is the intellectual’s magazine.

Wikipedia has strengths too, chiefly the resilient power of collective common sense.

The article shares how anonymity can be a problem with Wikipedia, but then argues that collectively it is in fact VERY well maintained and that even many of the pretend-experts are conscientious, careful, and accurate.

Constant scrutiny and editing means even the worst articles are gradually getting better, while the best ones are kept nicely polished and up to date. Someone, eventually, will spot even the tiniest error, or tighten a patch of sloppy prose. Mr Jordan, for all his bragging, seems to have been a scrupulous and effective editor.

It’s a great article to share with your teachers. As much as I have tried, I come across teachers who are resistant to the idea that Wikipedia can be trusted or that Wikipedia can be used as a source by students. They think that they are teaching good research skills. I think they are missing an opportunity for students to think critically, to defend arguments, and to confirm information from other sources.

Has anyone else come across the attempting-to-be-web-savvy teacher who in efforts to show they are “with it” with new technologies, make the pre-emptive ban on using Wikipedia as a source with students?

Are we not missing out on conversations with students on “collective common sense”? Or global participatory culture? Educators complain about misuse and abuse of social networking sites like MySpace, but fail to acknowledge the powerful force for shared knowledge that Wikipedia (and other sites have become). Web 2.0 is being used for good right in front of even the most tech-resistant noses, but they miss it hiding behind “anyone could write it, so it’s not allowed.”

The quality of writing is often a good guide to an entry’s usefulness: inelegant or ranting prose usually reflects muddled thoughts and incomplete information. A regular user soon gets a feel for what to trust.

I thought that was a nice quote to describe exactly what we are missing out on, by not allowing kids to use Wikipedia. Don’t we want kids developing that skill of getting “a feel for what to trust”?

I’m going to be sharing this article with my staff. Let’s see if it can get our own conversation started.

[on a side note...Conservapedia?!? Really?!]

Our Imperative to teach Safe, Responsible Social Networking

March 20th, 2007 Dennis Harter No comments

(originally posted on harterlearning on Mar 7, 2007)
The Washington Post has had some gems lately…glad I have them on my Netvibes.

A recent article delves into a continuing, but also growing problem in online social networking sites where rumors and disinformation and personal attacks are impacting people’s lives negatively (to understate it). It’s a very scary article on what happens when the Web 2.0 tool gets used badly.

The article starts with the story of a Phi Beta Kappa, Yale Law graduate who did not get many call backs and received no job offers. Though admittedly difficult to prove, she claims that this was a result of deragatory postings about her in a well-read public forum on AutoAdmit.

The woman and two others interviewed by The Washington Post learned from friends that they were the subject of derogatory chats on a widely read message board on AutoAdmit, run by a third-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania and a 23-year-old insurance agent. The women spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retribution online.

The forum in question contains useful information about law schools and law firms, but also contains hundreds of posts filled with racism and bigotry. But the site’s founder says it’s free speech.

The students’ tales reflect the pitfalls of popular social-networking sites and highlight how social and technological changes lead to new clashes between free speech and privacy. The chats are also a window into the character of a segment of students at leading law schools. Penn officials said they have known about the site and the complaints for two years but have no legal grounds to act against it. The site is not operated with school resources.

This is out there. It’s real. How much more hiding from it can educators do? Ignorance on this type of thing is simply no longer acceptable for teachers. This is the world that a participatory web 2.0 has created. One in which anyone can say anything about anyone else. We can’t just teach kids to protect themselves, instead teachers have to assume the responsibility of teaching students to be responsible users as well.

The technology is new(ish), but it isn’t going away. As a teachnology facilitator, it’s my job to make sure that teachers get this. I need to show them how important it is for our students to learn how to use the tool properly AND responsibly. It is worth noting here that the “misuers” in this article are law students slandering their peers.

Dare I quote it? “With great power comes great responsibility.” (Thanks, Spidey.)

The educational power of Web 2.0 is out there for us to embrace: collaboration, critical thinking, communication. But not all teachers have jumped on board. Maybe we are still too content focused in our curriculum. Maybe “the kids are going to learn the technology anyway”, since they spend so much time on it outside of school (side note: why wouldn’t this be a reason to make school more like that?). But even if that’s the case, this article reminds us how important it is to have conversations with students about the implications of their actions.

So whose job is this? Only mine as the tech. guy? Parents? What about all educators? What about the village? But here in lies the rub: most of those people don’t even know what’s out there. They don’t know that this technology exists, that kids are using it, that kids are learning in it, and that kids are misusing it too.

Like so many things, the answer lies not in protection, but in education. But that adds to our problems as more and more schools are knee-jerking their way to blocking access and sealing off their schools from the participatory culture that’s out there. So we emphasize the good, make little of the bad (see Jeff’s ThinkingStick post on this), and get people on board.

So when’s a good time to bring in the bad? To have those real conversations with kids? How about ALL THE TIME. Damn…that puts me back at square one…I have to get our teachers to see this as their job. I want to be obsolete as Jeff suggests (well, the job anyway…not me personally), but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

That’s the key to this Web 2.0 participatory environment…it’s put power into everyone’s hands. And we just haven’t prepared everyone for that kind of responsibility.

It’s no wonder that there is misuse, just as it is no wonder that some are learning on their own how to behave well and how to protect themselves (great post on this from Justin at Medagogy and teacher directed kids learning based at ThinkingStick).

But we can’t rely on self-learning anymore, because it is about more than skills that we can scope and sequence. It’s about responsible use as well. It’s the job of all educators to make sure that students get that. And teachers will get there, because we can’t afford not too…I just hope it’s fast enough for our students’ sake.

Teens Can Multitask, But What Are Costs?

March 20th, 2007 Dennis Harter No comments

(originally posted on harterlearning on Feb 27, 2007)

Teens Can Multitask, But What Are Costs? – washingtonpost.com:

Call it multitasking homework, Generation ‘Net style.

The students who do it say multitasking makes them feel more productive and less stressed. Researchers aren’t sure what the long-term impact will be because no studies have probed its effect on teenage development. But some fear that the penchant for flitting from task to task could have serious consequences on young people’s ability to focus and develop analytical skills.

We all know the scene: teen managing their MySpace, instant messaging, listening to music, sharing homework, and word processing all at the same time. This article from The Washington Post takes an interesting look at teenager multi-tasking.

The article misleads though when they quote Jordan Grafman, chief of neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke as saying,

Introducing multitasking in younger kids in my opinion can be detrimental,” he said. “One of the biggest problems about multitasking is that it’s almost impossible to gain a depth of knowledge of any of the tasks you do while you’re multitasking. And if it becomes normal to do, you’ll likely be satisfied with very surface-level investigation and knowledge.

This quote has NOTHING to do with neurological disorder or stroke, yet by quoting him, the writer offers the impression that this could be a possibility. Is this even ethical? Lots of adults are saying the same thing…how can they be focusing? How can they be understanding? What purpose is their in getting this quote from the head of the Stroke Institute unless it is to imply that they think it’s bad for teens’ health (which they do not as far as I can tell)?

The article goes on to describe a study which indicated that scoring is similar on a card recall activity by those multi-tasking and those not. Interestingly again, it then goes on to offer that the multi-taskers seem to recall less detail.

imaging showed that different parts of the brain were active depending on whether the subjects did single or multiple tasks. When subjects were focused on sorting, the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for storing and recalling information — was engaged. But when they were multitasking, that part of the brain was quiet and the part of the brain used to master repetitive skills — the striatum — was active.

Was recall part of the activity? Multitasking may shut off certain parts of the brain that are unnecesary, but could it be that good multi-tasking would have allowed for recall, if that were asked of the multi-tasker? Maybe the multi-tasking brain is effective because it can shut off what it doesn’t need. I don’t know the answer to this, but as I read this article I thought of how often we, digital immigrant, try to force our own hang-ups on digital native multi-taskers.

If students aren’t getting to the depth of knowledge like they are “supposed” to, then perhaps that is because we aren’t “asking” them to. If they can multi-task and get good grades, as the article suggests, then these students are doing what is being asked of them and doing it well.

Yet we then question the depth of their knowledge?

Is not the depth of their knowledge, dependent on what we ask them to know? And if our questions ask for depth, wouldn’t that be an effective gauge for how well they can achieve that depth, while still multi-tasking? Maybe with thought-requiring questions, a student might drop some of those “tasks” and focus on the one…or maybe we’d find that their brains are in fact wired differently than ours and that they can think with depth while chatting with their friends.

Either way, I find it hard to blame the lack of depth in teens’ knowledge on their own multi-tasking. No, that blame falls directly on us…their teachers. Let’s give them something worth focusing on and then we can worry about how they get there.

2 Cents Worth » Social Networking Examined

March 20th, 2007 Dennis Harter No comments

(originally posted on harterlearning on Jan 9, 2007)

2 Cents Worth » Social Networking Examined:

The principal finding of that study revealed that 55% of online teens use social networks. To some degree, this percentage, though high, seems to contridict society’s notions about teens and their online world.

There is a widespread notion that every American teenager is using social networks, and that they’re plastering personal information over their profiles for anyone and everyone to read,” says Amanda Lenhart. “These findings add nuance to that story – not every teenager is using a social networking website, and of those that do, more than half of them have in some way restricted access to their profile.”(55% of online teens)

Findings of the study indicate that 66% of social networking teens have their profiles blocked from view by anyone but their friends.

So should we be scared? Maybe the numbers are not as bad as media makes them out to be. Warlick goes on to ask the more profound question though: “what should we be doing to embrace that 55% number?” After all what other activity do you know of that 55% of the population do? Not sports, not painting, not chess. His point is a good one…55% may be less than we thought, but 55% is a lot more than anything else.

How do we make it meaningful and educational? Can social networking be used as a learning environment? We are hoping to answer that with the creation of an e-learning community at our school in which teachers and students will interact with their students on course matter. Not that revolutionary, but at the same time we want to provide RSS and other features that allow for some customizability and some pursuit of personal interests – without turning it into a MySpace clutterfest (though our visually-literate students don’t seem to mind).