Instructional Technology: Approach with (Healthy) Caution

In his insightful speech to a 1998 world on the cusp of the explosion of the Tech Age, American philosopher Neil Postman presented his five basic ideas on the concept of technological change. Even though his talk is now nearly 20 years old, his ideas (warnings, really) still ring true for us who lead the charge of integrating technology into all areas of the curriculum...

{Click over to the American Associations of School Librarians Knowledge Quest blog to read the original post}


Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology

For addicts, managing triggers is an important part of being able to avoid relapse. For technology addicts, however, it can be nearly impossible to manage an unhealthy dependency on technology in the same way as other obsessions. This infographic (an assignment for one of my graduate classes) explains how technology has ushered in an entirely new sort of behavioral addiction.

The real question is...what are we going to do about it? Being addicted to our devices is a common problem in today's information age. Healthy solutions to a growing problem is an important conversation for everyone, but especially for parents and educators. 



Getting Started with 3D Printing

When the Makerspace movement began spreading a few years ago, I was one of those people who was under the misconception that you couldn’t call it a Makerspace if you didn’t have a 3D printer. At that point in time a 3D printer might as well have been the moon itself, and so I supposed that the whole Makerspace thing just wasn’t within my (or my students’) grasp...

{Catch the rest of this post at the American Association of School Librarians Knowledge Quest blog}

Blogs as War Diaries

The New York Times featured an article today by Tom Zeller, Jr. titled "Anne Frank 2006: War Diaries Online." It discusses how bloggers in Israel and Lebanon are maintaining sites that are documenting the progression of the conflict. The opening of the article touches on the impact that Anne Frank's and Zlata Filopovic's (victim of the Bosnian war in Sarajevo) diaries had and continue to have on people's lives. Both of the girls' heartfelt -and at times, desperate- diary entries later revealed details of the life in a war zone. (I read Zlata's Diary in graduate school, and the book was one of the 2 non-fiction books that I would say greatly affected me.) Zeller then discusses the prevalence and possible impacts of online war diaries about the war in Israel.

I checked out a few of the featured sites, researched others, and have listed the most useful of what I found below. The authors are getting hundreds of comments on each post, and some pretty interesting conversations are taking place. This "conflict" is extremely significant to the rest of the world, but these blogs will help remind us of what those people are experiencing on a daily basis with rockets, missiles, and gunfire falling like rain.

War-Related Links:
-Blogging Beirut
-Video Clip of Missile Attack
-Video Clip of Air Siren Alarms
-Damage in Galilee
-Blogs of War
-Jerusalem Post
-The Captain's Journal
-Morning Coffee
-Lebanon's The Daily Star

For more information on Zlata Filopovic:
Teachers' Bookzone
American Library Association
Zlata's Diary

The Beauty of EduBlogs

If it is enigmatic to answer a question with a question, what then is it to blog about blogging?

I’ve had some thoughts swirling around in my head over the past several months about the opportunities for use of web logs in education. Blogs (and social networks that call themselves blogs but aren’t really->see previous tech posting) have become immensely popular over the past 2 years. It began as a trend with young adults, then filtered down to colleges, then to teenagers, and now even to middle schoolers. They love them, they post several times daily, and for crying out loud they are excited about writing and then reading what their peers are posting. Do you realize what this means? Willful creative composition, drafting, revising, editing, publishing. The best part? They do it for fun.

Stop the presses.

Someone please tell me why we aren’t using this in schools? Many of the most commonly used blog-wares are currently blocked in my school system via network filters set at the central office. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get that some of these kids are using their blogs or MySpace accounts to gossip and in the worst cases, cyber-bully others. I’m neither denoting that fact nor demeaning the power of public slander in the life of a student. As a matter of fact, initially I almost understood the ban because it is our foremost responsibility to protect our children. But as the potential for blogs continues to grow, I am convinced that the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. We shouldn’t be afraid of this new technology that can be so great for the students for whose instruction we are also responsible. If their education can be enhanced by utilizing it, then we owe it to them to try.

You know, when the internet became a big thing, educators were afraid of it. “They’ll see trash!” we cried. “They’ll play games!” we protested. “What good is this www, anyway? None of that information is reliable!” There’s this silly little cycle. Whenever something is new, we fight it. We protest, we cry, we make lists of all the reasons it just won't work, we bang our fists on the floor, and we are dragged kicking and screaming (led by the kids, most times) into the future. Then after our tantrum and after we recover from the paralyzing fear over what will go wrong, finally, as a last resort, we figure out how to modify the new thing into something that is useful. We taught them (with relative success) to stay away from the smut, to evaluate their sources, and to play games in their free time. We’ll teach them to blog responsibly, too.

I’m telling you right now, people, mark my words. Blogging is here to stay, and its uses will only continue to multiply. Don’t pass out at the following suggestion, but why don’t we embrace it this time (gasp)? Frankly, I think we need to take advantage of this tool before the powers that be catch on and start making us pay for it!

I most assuredly believe that the use of web logs can be an invaluable tool in teaching the writing process (how exciting will it be for students to see their very own words published on the web?!), and easily integrated across the curriculum. This newfangled (did I mention FREE?!) technology is a beautiful tool, full of potential for our kids; but as we all know so very well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.