Monthly Archives: May 2010


Understanding Web Connection

Where does the power of the Web lie? To me the power lies in using the opportunities that it can give you in your personal and professional life.

The 21st Century learner has been bombarded with new technology that gives access to global communication and information. This new world of learning needs us to be aware of how we and our students are interacting with the world. The awareness of how to deal with issues inherent in our technological world helps to see the power of it as well.

Making a digital video is a powerful, transformational, educational tool. When students participate in video projects they practice all their academic skills in a productive, real world context. I experienced this when my students created a documentary interviewing a native South African. Not only their peers and teachers have acces to it, basically the whole world can view their project now since it is posted on the web.

Another amazing powerful tool is skype. The video posted on our course page, watching how a student who is unable to attend school due to sickness can still be part of a classroom was very touching and again showed the importance of being connected with the real world. I recently brought an author into my class, we read her book and the students discussed a variety of topics with her giving great insides of the author’s craft and the content of the story. The reason why I came up with a f2f meeting came from the connection this group of students had made after reading another book and visiting the author’s website. The author, Majorie Cowel encouraged the readers to ask her questions, which we did and she responded to. My kids were truly amazed to be connected with a real author. The next step will be to make a skype connection with her and have a live interview.

Michael Smith wrote this week in his Pricipals Page blog that this schoolyear is finally over, which makes me realize again that I am going to miss my son who is graduating this week and will be  leaving the nest. After reading that the communication tools that exist today are powerful mediums to help spread positive change and global awareness, I don’t have to worry too much about how he is going to survive……. If the web has the power to flatten classrooms it will do the same for my livingroom.

If virtual connections via global projects can promote enhanced understanding and a world view, I also realize what a face-to-face opportunity it can bring exchanging ideas and giving suggestions of how to use a washing machine, in exchange of helping me using information technologies. For me learning new technologies is often a messy business.   “Messy” learning is part trial and error, part waiting and waiting for something to happen, part excitement in discovery, part terrible frustration and part the most fun you’ll ever have. Time can seem to stand still – or seem to go by in a flash. The best part of my messy learning is that besides fixing and solving the problems, it is also difficult to get out of your memory! So, Olaf, my son, your mom is going to use the power of the web; she will use skype, facebook, email, msn and practice learning all the other communication tools that are out there so it feels that you’re still connected with….the nest.


Teaching Students Online Safety

Who’s responsibility is it to teach students to be safe online?

To teach students to be safe online we need to make them aware of the importance of principles of community at our school. Administrators and teachers at ISB recognize that they have a responsibility for the safety of their students and that safe guidelines when using the Internet are followed. To make sure that at home parents know how to share this responsible role and keep track of their kids’ online behavior we all need to be educated in this. For our final CoeTail project I worked in a small group to create an AUP for our Middle School division level. One of our responsibilities definitely includes netiquette and cyber-bullying.

What is cyberbullying, exactly? Cyberbullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying

Many students do not realize that some of their activities, done without thought, can be considered cyber-bullying. Defining online bullying as part of the AUP and having a published procedure for students to follow whenever they feel that they are being bullied will send the message that such activities are not acceptable and will be addressed by those in authority. Knowing what their rights are and how to respond can keep some students from becoming easy targets. Electronic bullying is more problematic since the source can be difficult or impossible to find. Rules in the AUP make it possible for schools to take action whenever it is needed?

We encourage students to use technology that connects them to people electronically and when parents make computers or text messaging available to their children, they have the same responsibility. If they send their child to a school that makes use these media, they have the same responsibility. Parents also have a responsibility to attempt to monitor their children’s online behavior, just as they would with their real-world actions.

Most importantly, education about media behavior needs to be an ongoing aspect of students’ lives. At school it cannot be confined to a single class or meeting. At home, parents cannot expect that one conversation will be sufficient. We would not expect a one-off conversation to be enough to teach students about sharing or listening to others. Once our school’s AUP becomes clear to us educators we will have an important tool to teach online behavior more effectively.


Your Face on Facebook

Your face on facebook, Watch our for Netizens (or not!)

Here’s what I’ve read last week.

In China, the Internet is equivalent to streets in democratic countries where people gather to create a voice and spill frustration……

Apparently a homeless man who was living an anonymous life on the streets of China was suddenly in the spotlights when an amateur photographer had taken his picture and posted it on the Internet. This photographer could have been you or me. (Although I haven’t been in China yet). It could be my fiend K, who’s leaving soon for Australia, and posts many pictures of Thailand on Facebook from unknown Thai faces. In the case of the unknown man in China, many more people started taking his picture while he was roaming the streets. People were attracted by the way he dressed and his good looks. As more and more of his pictures started to appear online he became famous and the new celebrity was named ‘Brother Sharp’. It turns out that this man had been roaming the streets for three years. Because he had lost his wife and father in a car accident he suffered from a mental illness. His family was very happy to have found him with the “help” of Internet.

The point here is the power of the net in our societies. Certain actions like this without asking Brother Sharp’s permission may be considered invasion of his privacy. It was also the information spread by the netizens that helped support an unnoticed person. Another new tech word: netizens…..mmmm I like it!

In China many information are still censored and people end up in jail for being too open. People (netizens) get arrested for posting information seen as threats by the government and many pieces of information were deleted from the Net.

How can we create good AUP’s? What are we going to do with our Middle School (netizens) kids if they make the wrong choices in posting information that’s inappropriate? What are the consequences? Can we delete their stuff?


Privacy Online

Is there such a thing as privacy online?

Can and will the Internet take over my future? “ Use and abuse” are the first words that come in my mind, but isn’t that with everything we undertake? With learning new skills to participate in society we always have to think of the consequences. “No pain no gain”. Challenge yourself, “trial and error”, gain experiences, and make choices! BE AWARE about the pros and cons. The Internet is made for us so that information can be shared, so we all should be concerned about personal stuff we put on it.

Here at ISB our grade 6 will be going one-to one computer next year where I will be teaching EAL Humanities!!!! This feels good, I’m thrilled, but can we, teachers, parents, and students handle the good, the bad, and the ugly? Will I as a teacher be able to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to integrate technology meaningfully into instruction in specific content areas? I am a digital immigrant teacher with an open mind who has passed the behavioral stage, thanks to this course, and although I still feel overwhelmed at times with the speed of learning to use information technology, I am all for it!!!! Strategies to improve my productivity are tested on a daily basis. “Hey I’ve created a Google Doc for our group to work on our EUP Middle School collaborative project.” One of my colleagues says and I feel relieved! Why? Because I know now what a Google Doc is and it will really be an effective tool for our teamwork on this.

This second part of the COETAIL course has these very useful topics that will help with the awareness process of the consequences when we give our kids a school computer to increase their learning. To strengthen a community of practice between students, teachers and parents ISB needs AUPs to provide the proper context for learning to take place.

So how to take the issue of privacy online into account?

Our students all use blogs and are expected to follow the Middle School blogging guidelines. I particularly like the following questions students, (and teachers as well) should use to decide what is appropriate to post on your blog.

Ask yourself:

Is this something I want everyone to see?

Could someone find me (in real life) based on this information?

What could be the consequences of this post?

Who is going to look at this, and how are they going to interpret my words?

Do I have a good reason/purpose to do this?

What will I cause by writing this post?

Would I want someone to say this to me?

Would I want this post to be graded for proper grammar and spelling?

Is this inappropriate, immature or bullying?

Who is the original creator of this work?