Week #7: A Plethora of Ideas & Opinions
Where to start? Actually, I think I will rant about one topic, comment on another and add comments to other blog posts rather than repeat myself here…
Horizon Report: Just for your information, the full 2010 Horizon report is now available. Mike did a nice job and started some good conversations in his presentation. I am sure the discussion will be pursued on many a blog this week. In the report, the difficulties of assessment are discussed, but the big stumbling block mentioned was standards and standardized testing, thankfully a problem we do not have to deal with in Manitoba (our “standards tests” don’t compare with what happens in US schools). At least the direction assessment is taking in Manitoba allows using progressive practices. While feedback about the use of the technology – and perhaps even a portion of a grade in evaluation – is important to make, the assessment should be about the outcomes to be learned (of course, using the technology could be the outcome if it is a technology course). One has keep from being wowed by the glitz. The five trends & challenges listed on pages 6 & 7 of the Executive Summary are interesting as well. I won’t comment on them, but they are worth looking at.
Filtering/Blocking: This topic has been a pet peeve of mine for many years. Last year I wrote an anti-filtering ‘ article for ManACE. If you are interested and do not get the ManACE Journal, I can send a copy. I have heard concerns about the practice from practicing teachers and teacher candidates who go out student teaching with some great ideas, but… YouTube is blocked, Google Docs is blocked and so on. Protecting children is the reason… yet, kids go home or pull out their Smart phone and access whatever they want. Now, I certainly understand that there may need to be some filtering in Primary schools, however by the time a student reaches even grades 7 & 8, but especially in high schools, I see NO NEED for filtering. It allows schools to say “it isn’t our problem” … but it ties the hands of teachers and students. Sometimes there are bandwidth issues and streaming video must be cut down, but in those cases, at least teachers should be allowed access. In some schools Google docs and sites are blocked. Why? Is someone afraid kids might collaborate? Filtering software provides a false sense of security, it does let some ‘bad’ stuff through, but we are less vigilant if we have it. It also blocks many useful sites. As Roman pointed out, there are ways around filters. Just do a google search and hundreds of sites with instructions to defeat filtering come up. We should teach appropriate use and deal with the odd issue that comes up. If we think the problem is not ours because bad sites are blocked, then we are doing our students a big disservice. Today’s kids, as we have commented on many times, are comfortable with technology and are using it often. The problem is they do not often think of the consequences of their actions, so our solution – block the bad stuff ! It should be teach appropriate, effective and ethical use! I think I have mentioned this quote before (can’t remember where I heard this) … that the filters should be in the heads of our students, not on servers. My final point is to ask: who decides what gets blocked? An IT person? A division administrator (or worse, school trustee) worried about PR & liability? A software company? My opinion is that it is the teacher who knows her/his students, the teacher who is the professional at the front-lines. Lets stop deskilling and not trusting teachers and let THEM decide which software, web sites and so on to use to do their job! OK – I guess my opinion is clear. I will continue my ranting in response to my classmate’s posts. :-)
Check these out: poster 1 (I have linked to this before).
Here is a disturbing story about a huge invasion of privacy by school officials.
Sid Davis: Another pioneer. It was fun and interesting to watch the film. It is a look back at an earlier time, we might laugh, yet they could provide interesting discussion with students about life in earlier times and what messages it may hold for us today. You can find many of Sid Davis’ films (and all sorts of public domain video, audio and so on) at the Internet Archive site. This is a wonderful source of artifacts that can be used and remixed for free – and legally. The CBC show Spark uses audio from here for many podcasts, a wealth of content at our fingertips (providing it isn’t blocked!). The BMW videos also acted to show the power of video. A topic that should be included in media literacy, be it in a Media Studies class, an ICT course or an ELA class.
Speaking of Spark and media literacy. Nora Young interviewed a guy about software they are working on called the “dispute finder”. It is experimental & free. It is a way to alert people when claims on web sites are disputable. Sounds interesting!