Archive for April, 2011

Parents Of Nasal Learners Demand Odor-Based Curriculum

The following article was originally published to be funny, perhaps satirical.  That being said, does it offer a serious challenge to some of our teaching practices? Is there any reason we should assume nasal learners don’t exist?  Should we tailor our instruction to their needs with the same vigor used for oral or visual learners?  Why? Or Why not?  If not, why are we so sure that we should cater to oral or visual learners, or anyother such groupings of needs?

From: http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28606

Parents Of Nasal Learners Demand Odor-Based Curriculum

March 15, 2000 | Issue 36•09

Bottom of Form

COLUMBUS, OH–Backed by olfactory-education experts, parents of nasal learners are demanding that U.S. public schools provide odor-based curricula for their academically struggling children.

“Despite the proliferation of countless scholastic tests intended to identify children with special needs, the challenges facing nasal learners continue to be ignored,” said Delia Weber, president of Parents Of Nasal Learners, at the group’s annual conference. “Every day, I witness firsthand my son Austin’s struggle to succeed in a school environment that recognizes the needs of visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic learners but not him.”

Weber said she was at her “wit’s end” trying to understand why her son was floundering in school when, in May 1997, another parent referred her to the Nasal Learning Research Institute inColumbus. Tested for odor-based information-acquisition aptitude,Austinscored in the 99th percentile.

“My child is not stupid,” Weber said. “There simply was no way for him to thrive in a school that only caters to traditional students who absorb educational concepts by hearing, reading, seeing, discussing, drawing, building, or acting out.”

Austin’s experience is not unique.

“My 15-year-old daughter Chloe couldn’t sustain her interest in academics and, as a result, she would goof off with her friends and get in trouble,” said Michael Sweeney ofOswego,NY. “Now I realize that all those Ds and Fs did not represent any failure on my daughter’s part, but rather her school’s failure to provide an appropriate nasal-based curriculum.”

According to Reyna Panos, director of the Nasal/Olfactory Secondary Education (NOSE) certification program atBrownUniversity, children begin to indicate their nasal needs as early as the first grade, so parents need to be on the lookout for the telltale signs.

“Nasal learners often have difficulty concentrating and dislike doing homework,” Panos said. “They also frequently have low grades in math, reading, and science. If your child fits this description, I would strongly urge you to get him or her tested for a possible nasal orientation.”

Educators have been slow to recognize nasal learners, said Panos, even though her research finds that 10 to 20 percent of all students fall into the category.

“In the early years of educational psychology, children were believed to fall into one of two camps: visual and auditory. Eventually, kinesthetic and tactile learning styles were recognized, as well,” Panos said. “But, to this day, nasal learning continues to go unacknowledged.”

Panos said nasal learners do best when they are encouraged to use odor-based recall techniques in testing situations, and are allowed to organize and prioritize items by scent. The biggest challenge now, she said, is to “educate the educators.”

“It’s very gratifying to be a pioneer in a totally new field of education, but at the same time, it’s frustrating to come up against such strong resistance,” Panos said. “That’s where groups like Parents Of Nasal Learners make all the difference: They’ve got to push, push, push until their children’s needs are finally met.”

Scholastic Scents is a Cambridge, MA, company attempting to fill the void in educational materials geared toward nasal learners.   “Our line of scratch-and-sniff textbooks won’t be available until next school year,” Scholastic Scents president Randy Bauer said, “but we do have a variety of educational packets such as the Oregon Trailfragrance set and our ‘Speak & Smell’ language workshops. I’d also recommend you browse our non-text book selections, such as the all-odor version of The Yearling.”

However, according to Dr. Ira Greene, author of The Nose Knows: A Nasal-Based Curriculum Development Guide, such efforts do not go far enough. Greene said there are three distinct types of nasal learners: the goal-oriented nasal learner, the activity-oriented nasal learner, and the learning-oriented nasal learner. Each type, he said, must be treated differently.

“It’s important to understand that not every nasal learner is the same,” Greene said. “For example, while goal-oriented and activity-oriented nasal learners may see the prospect of olfactory reward at the end of a task as sufficient motivation, the learning-oriented nasal learner needs something more to sustain his interest.”

For parents who suspect their children may be nasal learners, Panos recommended the Stanford-Binet Nasal Index Exam.

“This test asks students to respond to statements like, ‘I enjoy smelling things,’ and ‘I would rather write a book report than smell one that has already been written,'” Panos said. “From this, we can determine the best way for parents to help teach that child. It would be nice if the schools gave such tests, but the sad fact is, for the child with special nasal needs, today’s educational system stinks.”

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A quick fact to defend factual knowledge and route learning

 

Twitter can really cut through a concept you’re wrestling with sometimes and help you crystallize it. I couldn’t quite encapsulate an idea I has having until this tweet came to me the other day:

@mathewi Mathew Ingram

RT @sacca: Everything you read is true. Except when the article covers a topic you actually know something about.

I have been wrestling with writing a defense of facts / factual knowledge / route learning for a while now. I have largely written what I refer to as part one, but I haven’t published it yet. I still might, but for now, this will co-opt that earlier writing.

I think what the post concludes is that unless someone makes an overt error, it is impossible to be fully critical of an argument or presentation. Unless there is a leap in logic or an internal inconsistency you will only know if something is wrong, if you first know what is right. When I read Wikipedia with my son about the Solar System, I try to absorb everything; however, when I read about the Eastern Abenaki, I consistently want to edit or argue a point. The difference is I have some factual knowledge about the Eastern Abenaki while I have only a rudimentary understanding of the Solar System.

It is factual knowledge that allows us to utilize our critical thinking skills. Students can’t be expected to accurately judge information found on the web, unless they know something about it first. Teachers must teach factual knowledge in order to encourage the application of critical thinking. While no great fan of Bloom’s taxonomy (or the revision) it is no coincidence that remembering and understanding come before apply, analysis, evaluate and create.

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Analytic tool based on Postman’s 5 ideas

Below is a graphic organiser that I created to use Postman’s article “5 Ideas we Need to Know About Technological Change.”  My students used this to analysis the Internet or any social media tool.  I think it helped to focus / lead some of their efforts.  Formatting changed a little when I posted it here but there is a word document link at the end of this post to see the formatting as I intended.

Name: ______________________    

Subject being analyzed: ______________________________

Postman analytic tool

When trying to understand new technology or a media / Internet tool, Postman’s article “Five Things We Need to Know about Technological Change” provides a good framework to begin:

“Idea number one, then, is that culture always pays a price for technology.”
“What will a new technology undo?” What other negative consequences are associated with this tech / media? .

 

“…There are always winners and losers in technological change” is the second idea. .
What are the winners winning?  What are the advantages of producing this technology to the producer? What are the advantages of consuming this technology? .
What are the losers losing? .

                       

“The third idea, then, is that every technology has a philosophy which is given expression in how the technology makes people use their minds, in what it makes us do with our bodies, in how it codifies the world…”
What is the idea or bias behind this tech. / media? .

 

“…fourth idea: Technological change is not additive; it is ecological.”
What is now different about the culture given the presence of this new tech / media? .

 

“…the fifth and final idea, which is that media tend to become mythic.”
Describe a characteristic How could it be changed for your benefit? .
Describe a characteristic How could it be changed for your benefit? .
Describe a characteristic How could it be changed for your benefit? .
Describe a characteristic How could it be changed for your benefit? .
Describe a characteristic How could it be changed for your benefit? .

 

Expectations

1.1 explain how various media texts address their intended purpose and audience

1.6 identify who produces various media texts and determine the commercial, ideological, political, cultural, and/or artistic interests or perspectives that the texts may involve

Criteria Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Use of critical/creativethinking processes uses critical/creative thinking

processes

with limited

effectiveness

uses critical/creative thinking

processes

with some

effectiveness

uses critical/creative thinking

processes with

considerable

effectiveness

uses critical/creative thinking

processes with a

high degree of

effectiveness

Application of knowledgeand skills

in familiar contexts

applies knowledgeand skills in familiar

contexts with limited

effectiveness

applies knowledgeand skills in familiar

contexts with some

effectiveness

applies knowledgeand skills in familiar

contexts with

considerable

effectiveness

applies knowledgeand skills in familiar

contexts with a

high degree of

effectiveness

 postman analysis

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Free services on the web

Image, if you will, that I have an idea of a game and wish to make money from it.  In those bygone days, I could: start a company and manufacture that game, or licence it to another company to sell.  Those would be my possible business models.  Today though, I have more options then those traditional avenues.

I can also:

1) Start an Internet site and charge per use

2) Start and Internet site and charge for a membership with unlimited use

3) Start an internet site and charge for special services or products with in the game

4) I can charge advertisers to place banner ads on my site adjusting the cost based on usage

5) I can charge advertisers to embed their ads inside the game in a variety of subtle or overt ways adjusting the cost based on usage

6) I can partner my service as content to another site which is trying to increase its usage

7) I can embed my game in other sites to drive users to mine

8) I can do number 6 and 7 simultaneously

9) I can track and sell the profile information of my users to direct marketers.

10) I can sell to users other related products based on the profiles I acquire

11) I can change my business plan to fluctuate between these options

10) I can combine many of these options together either all at once or gradually

11) I can wait to be bought out by Google or some other such company

There are lots of ways to make money, even if the game is free.  Now not everyone likes games, but what is also growing is social media tools for educational purposes; the same business models apply.  Still think that App is free?  Are we delivering our students as a captive targeted audience?  

Pause to consider

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Strategy Games for procedural writing

Strategy Games for procedural writing

People have been sharing, on Twitter, about learning with games for a while now, and I wanted to share these games.  These are strategic board games that are easy to duplicate and only require markers to play.  I photocopied and laminated game boards and used counting squares as markers.  I started using them when I taught Junior Special Ed. but I have also used these games with every level from grade 4 to grade 8 gifted.  Originally, it was to work with procedural writing. Students read and figure out how to play a game.  Once they are good at it, they either have to explain the rules in their own words, describe a game being played, or create a detailed strategy guide.  Several of them were written at different levels but that was a longer project then into which Iwanted to  invest.  Several of these games have been played for over 1000 years.  There are many other games that would be suitable (ex: the Royal game of Ur).  Here is my selection:

FOX AND GEESE

Fox and Geese seems to have originated in northernEuropesome time during the Viking Age.

  1. The game is a contest between one Fox and 13 Geese.
  2. Play begins with the pieces in the positions shown.
  3. Players may move a piece to any vacant adjacent spot on the board, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally along the marked lines.
  4. Only the Fox may jump another piece.
  5. When a piece is jumped, it is removed from the board.
  6. The object for the Geese is to capture the Fox by surrounding him so he cannot move or jump.
  7. The Fox must try to remove all the Geese, or at least enough of them so that there are not enough left for a capture.

AWITHLAKNANNAI

Player 1

                                                                    

Player 2

  1. Set up the board as shown above.
  2. Randomly determine who goes first.
  3. Players take turns moving one of their pieces at a time either forwards or sideways
  4. Pieces may not move back towards their player.
  5. The object of the game is to jump your opponent’s pieces and make yours safe by moving them across the board to the other side. 
  6. Pieces can be jumped.  To jump, the pieces must line up along a line with an empty space behind the piece being jumped (like in checkers).
  7. When no one can move any of their pieces, the game is over. 
  8. The winner is the person with the most pieces left at the end go the game.

 

FIERGES 

 

RULES (this game is similar to Checkers):

  1. Pieces are set on the first 2 rows in front of each player.  All spots must be occupied.  The middle row will be empty.  The pieces are moved diagonally, forward, or sideways one space at a time. They cannot move backwards.
  2. You may jump over and capture an opponent’s piece if there is an empty space beyond it. If, having jumped and captured a piece, you find your piece is able to jump another of your opponent’s pieces, you may do so. Captured pieces are removed from the board. In Fierges there is no compulsion to capture an opponent’s piece.
  3. If you manage to place a piece on your opponent’s back line, that piece becomes a King. That piece is “crowned” or marked to denote its status. Usually by placing a second captured piece on top of it
  4. A King can move backwards or forwards; however, “crowning” ends a move. So a piece cannot move into the back line, become a king then jump back out over opponent’s piece capturing it, in the same move. It must wait until its next move.
  5. The object of the game is to capture your opponent’s 10 pieces or make it so they can’t move.

 

FOUR FIELD KONO

Number of Players: 2
Equipment: Board and 2 sets of 8 marbles for Four Field Kono, and 16 marbles

Objective: To capture all your opponent’s pieces (or prevent him or her from moving)

  1. The board is set up as in the picture with each player’s marbles placed in the two rows directly in front of him or her.
  2. Players take turns moving.
  3. A player can capture an opponent’s marble by jumping over one of his or her OWN marbles and landing on the opponent’s marble, which is then captured and removed from the board. Capture moves can only be made horizontally or vertically, not diagonally.
  4. Only one piece can be captured in a move.
  5. If not capturing, a piece can be moved one space horizontally or vertically, not diagonally.
  6. A player who cannot make a move or has only one piece left loses.

 

PROPOSED RULES FOR LATRUNCULI

See full size image 

Use an 8 X 12 grid board

  1. Black plays first.
  2. Each player has 12 pawns and 1 king
  3. All pieces are set on the board before play begins as shown.
  4. All pawns may move any number of spaces in the horizontal or vertical direction.
  5. the king can only move 1 space at a time either horizontal or vertical
  6. A single pawn is captured if it is surrounded on two opposite sides by a combination or Kings or pawns; however, a pawn may move between 2 other pawns without being captured.
  7. The outside walls cannot be used to capture pawns.
  8. A piece in the corner can be captured by two playing pieces (either pawns or kings) placed across the corner.
  9. Multiple stones can be captured if surrounded at the same time, by the same move.
  10. The king cannot be captured but can be immobilized by being surrounded on all four sides. 
  11. The king is also considered immobilized if it is blocked by an enemy stone such that it has no place left to move.
  12. First player to immobilize the enemy king wins.
  13. If the game stalemates, the player with the most captured enemy stones wins.
  14. Sequences of plays that repeat endlessly must be prohibited (this is usually obvious to both players after two series of moves repeats — any move initiating a third repeating series of moves is illegal).

 

MERELS

See full size image 

Rules:

  1. Start with an empty board.
  2. Each player has 9 pieces of a different colour.
  3. The players must decide who starts first.
  4. They take turns placing their pieces on the board.  Pieces are put on the board one at a time with the players taking turns.  Only 1 piece can be in any space.
  5. Once all the pieces are put on the board, players can move 1 piece at a time along the lines to the next empty space.  You cannot move to a space that already has a piece on it.
  6. The object of the game is to form what is called a “mill.”  That is when you have 3 of your pieces in a row.  When you have a mill, you can remove 1 of the other player’s pieces from the board.
  7. One player wins when the other player has only 2 pieces left.
  8. Whenever possible, the captured man should NOT be taken from an opponent’s existing line of three (mill).
  9. Players must move a man if they can.
  10. A player who cannot move a man loses the game.
  11. It IS allowed to move a man out of a mi and then move back the following turn. ll, and then move back the following turn.

 

 

NYOUT 

Nyout is an ancient game, originating in the area currently known asKorea. It is a game that can be played by two, three or four players. Based on horse racing, it’s playing surface is shaped as a circle inscribed with a cross. The circle and the cross are composed of circles that act as playing spaces. The center circle and the circles at the cardinal points are larger than the rest of the circles. 

The object of the game is to enter your pieces onto the board, move them around the board and bear them off. The player to bear all of their pieces off first wins.

The entry and exit point is the small circle to the left of the top large circle and is called the Chut. Pieces travel widdershins (counter-clockwise) around the board. 

Two-Player Nyout

If two people are playing, each player gets four playing pieces, called horses. Players determine the order they go in by a throw of the casting sticks (highest throw goes first).

The casting sticks are composed of four sticks, each with a light and a dark side. The sticks are shaken in a player’s hand and then dropped (cast). The number of light sides showing is the number of moves a player must move one of their horses (from 1 to 4). If no light sides are shown (all four sticks show dark sides) a player must move one of their horses 5 spaces.

Horses enter the Chut on any throw value.

Each circle space (including the Chut) counts as a move of one.

A throw of four or five allows another throw.

Finishing a move on a large circle allows a player to change the direction his horse is going, and on the next move take a shortcut using the paths through the center of the circle, if desired. If a horse taking a shortcut through the circle ends up on the opposite side of the circle with movement still to do they, the horse must turn widdershins (counter-clockwise) and finish out its movement. Use of shortcuts is not required.

If a player’s horse finishes a move on a space that already has a rival horse there, the rival horse is considered to be “kicked”, and it is removed from the board and must begin again. If a player has a horse finish a move on a space that has two or more rival horses there, all rival horses are considered to be “kicked”, and all are removed from the board and must begin again. The player who “kicks” another horse or horses off the board gets an additional turn. They receive only one additional turn no matter how many horses were “kicked”.

If a player’s horse finishes a move on a space that already has one of his own horses there, the player may (if desired) pair the two and have them move as one piece from then on. No more than two pieces may be paired together. If a player has a horse finish a move on a space that has two or more of his own horses there, he may pair pieces (if desired) provided they are not already paired.

An exact throw is NOT required to bear a horse off the board. If a horse is borne off, with movement left, the extra movement is lost.

Three-Player Nyout

The rules are the same if three people are playing, except that each player gets three horses apiece instead of four. Players determine the order they go in by a throw of the casting sticks (highest throw goes first).

The casting casting sticks are composed of four sticks, each with a light and a dark side. The sticks are shaken in a player’s hand and then dropped (cast). The number of light sides showing is the number of moves a player must move one of their horses (from 1 to 4). If no light sides are shown (all four sticks show dark sides) a player must move one of their horses 5 spaces.

Horses enter the Chut on any throw value.

Each circle space (including the Chut) counts as a move of one.

A throw of four or five allows another throw.

Finishing a move on a large circle allows a player to change the direction his horse is going, and on the next move take a shortcut using the paths through the center of the circle, if desired. If a horse taking a shortcut through the circle ends up on the opposite side of the circle with movement still to do they, the horse must turn widdershins (counter-clockwise) and finish out its movement. Use of shortcuts is not required.

If a player’s horse finishes a move on a space that already has a rival horse there, the rival horse is considered to be “kicked”, and it is removed from the board and must begin again. If a player has a horse finish a move on a space that has two or more rival horses there, all rival horses are considered to be “kicked”, and all are removed from the board and must begin again. The player who “kicks” another horse or horses off the board gets an additional turn. They receive only one additional turn no matter how many horses were “kicked”.

If a player’s horse finishes a move on a space that already has one of his own horses there, the player may (if desired) pair the two and have them move as one piece from then on. No more than two pieces may be paired together. If a player has a horse finish a move on a space that has two or more of his own horses there, he may pair pieces (if desired) provided they are not already paired.

An exact throw is NOT required to bear a horse off the board. If a horse is borne off, with movement left, the extra movement is lost.

Four-Player Nyout

If four people are playing, there are slightly different rules. First, each player gets two horses instead of four. Players form teams of two players each. Players still determine the order they go in by a throw of the casting sticks (highest throw goes first). Thus a team might go first & second, first & third, first & fourth, second & third, second & fourth or third & fourth.

The casting casting sticks are composed of four sticks, each with a light and a dark side. The sticks are shaken in a player’s hand and then dropped (cast). The number of light sides showing is the number of moves a player must move one of their horses (from 1 to 4). If no light sides are shown (all four sticks show dark sides) a player must move one of their horses 5 spaces.

Horses enter the Chut on any throw value.

Each circle space (including the Chut) counts as a move of one.

A throw of four or five allows another throw.

A PARTNER IN A TEAM MAY MOVE HIS OWN HORSE OR ONE OF HIS TEAMMATE’S HORSES.

Finishing a move on a large circle allows a player to change the direction his horse is going, and on the next move take a shortcut using the paths through the center of the circle, if desired. If a horse taking a shortcut through the circle ends up on the opposite side of the circle with movement still to do they, the horse must turn widdershins (counter-clockwise) and finish out its movement. Use of shortcuts is not required.

If a player’s horse finishes a move on a space that already has a rival horse there, the rival horse is considered to be “kicked”, and it is removed from the board and must begin again. If a player has a horse finish a move on a space that has two or more rival horses there, all rival horses are considered to be “kicked”, and all are removed from the board and must begin again. The player who “kicks” another horse or horses off the board gets an additional turn. They receive only one additional turn no matter how many horses were “kicked”.

Teammate horses do not count as rival horses. Teammate horses may share a space.

If a player’s horse finishes a move on a space that already has one of his own horses there, the player may (if desired) pair the two and have them move as one piece from then on. No more than two pieces may be paired together. If a player has a horse finish a move on a space that has two or more of his own horses there, he may pair pieces (if desired) provided they are not already paired.

A player may NOT pair one of his horses with a teammate’s horse.

An exact throw is NOT required to bear a horse off the board. If a horse is borne off, with movement left, the extra movement is lost.

Quirkat

                                                    

This game is very similar to checkers

  1. At the start of the game, each player places their twelve playing pieces on the board as shown in the diagram.
  2. A piece may be moved from one point to any adjacent point along an empty line, forwards, diagonally or sideways, but not backwards.
  3. If the point is occupied by an opponent’s piece, you may jump over and capture the piece, if there is an empty point beyond it. If, having jumped and captured a piece, you land next to another of your opponent’s that can be jumped, then you may jump again and capture a second piece.
  4. If you can jump, you must, otherwise it is considered to be “huffed”, and can be removed from the board by the other player. If you move a piece instead of one that can jump, the one that could jump is removed by your opponent.  This is not their move.
  5. If two or more pieces can make a capture on the same move, the pieces that did not capture are not removed from the board, if a capture was made. If no capture was made, all pieces that could have captured are considered “huffed” and are removed from the board.
  6. The game ends when one player loses all their pieces, cannot move a piece, or has all their pieces along the back row. In the last case, the player with the most pieces left wins.

Mancala

Rules for Mancala

  1. Mancala is played with seven pits per player.
  2. Your pits are the 6 small pits on your side of the board, and the larger Kalaha pit on the right hand side.
  3. Each player starts the game by placing 4 stones into each of their 6 small pits.
  4. A turn consists of taking all the stones from one of your pits, and then dropping a stone into each following pit in a counter-clockwise fashion
  5. If you drop a stone in your Kalaha, and have stones left, then you continue dropping stones counter-clockwise into your opponent’s pits.
  6. The winner is the person with the most stones in his / her Kalaha
  7. The game ends when all of a player’s pits are empty.
  8. If you end your turn by dropping a stone in your Kalaha, you get to go again
  9. If you end your turn by dropping a stone in one of your pits that is empty, you take the stones in the opposing pit.

 

The Tiger and the Goats (Bagha Chal)

 

 

  1. You begin the game with the Tiger placing his four pieces on the corners of the board.
  2. The Goat then places one piece on the board at any spot where lines cross.
  3. The Tiger then moves one piece along one line to the next intersection. 
  4. The pieces can move along any line in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal direction.
  5. The Tiger and the Goats continue to take turns with the Goat placing pieces and the Tiger moving or jumping until the Goat has placed his or her 20 pieces on the board. 
  6. The tiger’s goal is to eat all the goats.  To do this, he must jump over a goat piece.  A jump can be made when there is an empty space behind the goat like in checkers.  Only one goat can be jumped at a time.  When this happens, the Goat piece is removed from the board.
  7. The Goat pieces cannot move while there are still Goat pieces to be put on the board, so the Goat needs to place the pieces to block a Tiger from eating a Goat.
  8. Once all Goats are on the board, one piece may be moved one space when it is their turn.
  9. The Tiger has won if it eats 5 Goats.
  10. The Goats have won if the Tigers are blocked and cannot move.

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We need to talk about what we shouldn’t do

Last night as part of the #edtechbc, I received 2 tweets that really upset me.  Granted, I might be taking them out of context.  If so, I hope that someone will correct me.  If I’ve I have understood them as intended, then I hope that the senders will correct themselves.  The two tweets were:

 @royanlee Royan Lee Word.

RT @gcouros: “We need to talk a lot more about what we should do with social media than what we shouldn’t” Great by @chrkennedy

 @MrWejr Chris Wejr

Instead of talking about what we should NOT be doing using SM, we need to be talking about what we SHOULD be doing – @chrkennedy #edtechbc

I responded to both but found I wanted to be more explicit.  My original tweet response was:

 @ginrob_pt P. Tucker

Disagree -Am working with minors. It is my duty 2 error on side of caution. What we shouldn’t is our limit-what we should is limitless @MrWejr

Unlike the 2 tweets, I believe that our first conversation needs to be what we shouldn’t do.  I further believe that we should continue to have that conversation until we are at least reasonably sure that we understand the dangers / pitfalls / negative consequences.  We need to know what we shouldn’t do because that needs to serve as our limit.  What we should do, is near limitless and with infinite possibility; there are many right things to do and no one right way to do them.  An opportunity is like a bus; a missed one, while unfortunate, can easily be made up for.  Doing something we shouldn’t, is more likely to cause harm (broadly defined of course) and once it is done, can be difficult or impossible to undo.  Knowing what we shouldn’t do is also knowing the negative consequences.

Most of us teach minors that are entrusted into our care.  It is our ethical duty to error on the side of caution.  If you want to explore technology, then do it yourself and expose yourself to unknown risk.  By the time you introduce it to you students, you need to understand the dangers that need to be avoided (or prepared for) so that you can fulfil your duty to your students.  I’ll never make that mistake again.  I was encouraged to explore Twitter with my students and to learn it with them.  I was therefore ignorant and unprepared when several of my students were exposed to spam pornographers.  Besides this expose to my students (for which they were unprepared), more negative consequences were created in this situation.  As I am a professional, I’d be expected to know about this.  I think that by inadvertently exposing my students to unknown risks, I was also putting myself a more risk.

We need to share our knowledge of dangers and what we shouldn’t do at least as vigorously as we share what we can do.

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The purpose of Social Media / Hidden Costs

 

aka an expansion on Tucker’s Law Number 2: “Remember that unless you pay for the service, you are not their customer –you are likely to be the product (except for Wikipedia.org); even if you pay, there is no guarantee that you are their only customer:”

We all know, at some level, that our purpose when using media is often different from the purpose of the company publishing, or increasingly, supporting content.  Our purposes are diverse and ever changing, the business’s purpose is fixed: to make money.  More often than not, media is a advertizing delivery service.  We can of course derive benefit from consuming or utilizing media or its tools; indeed, this is required to keep us coming back and increase their market penetration. 

Even though we benefit from media and social media tools and platforms, we must weigh this against the cost.  Costs are sometimes hidden as the business models for many companies are complex (a future post perhaps). We should no longer say that internet services are free; this is misleading and untrue.  While it is true that we don’t always spend money, these are not charities.  they are business; they are selling a product.  Increasingly that product is us. 

The Internet is Us/ing us”

While this is fine for adults who, at least in our legal imagination and social rhetoric, have autonomy (or the potential anyways), it is not always fine for students.  I think that we have an ethical obligation to teach the consequences of using social media before we introduce it to our students.  As professionals, we need deep understanding of the consequences so we can impart them in our students.  Some of them, or their parents, might opt out of the use of social media sites–do we have the courage of our convictions to enable this by educating?  I feel a good start for educators is a mere 2 articles (both conveniently posted here: Neil Postman’s “5 ideas,” and Danah Boyd’s “Internet as Social Publics”).  This may seem like a very small amount of information to start (and there is of course many other great articles and sites to go to…Tim Chambers’s “who owns the digital you” for example), but I’d bet it would raise awareness levels in a vast majority of educators.

Not to put too fine a point on it, if you were to do a search on any book store’s web site with the search string, “social media” I bet many would be surprised by the result.  There is barely an book on education to be found but many about marketing, business, and advertizing.  The primary purposes of these media is to make money (your money, your student’s money) by selling to them or selling them to others.  Any educational value they have is the incentive to get you to come back (and bring the kids!); the carrot; the happy meal’s prize.  Be sure it is worth it, because sometimes it might cost too much.

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