Thanks to Jim McNelis for posting a link to Wired’s “A MySpace Cheat Sheet for Parents.” Our local paper here in Lubbock, Texas, last Sunday ran a news article about MySpace on page 1 of the life section, (“Cyberspace creates an open window for predators of youth” – get a free login on bugmenot) which was a typical “get scared because pedophiles are out to get your kids online” sort of article. Of course that message has validity, but it is sad these types of articles seem to be the most common these days when it comes to educational technology. Christopher Harris’ reminder that the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) being fanned by journalists today relative to MySpace should be put in perspective is good advice.
Without a doubt, school administrators and classroom teachers need to be doing a better job helping educate parents about the dangers of cyberspace, like those getting a fair amount of publicity (justifiably) because of social networking sites like MySpace and Xanga. If schools don’t strive to provide this type of educational learning for parents, who will? Certainly parents can read articles like the one in our local paper, but I wonder if those articles really EDUCATE people about what to do, what the risks are, etc. Journalists certainly have an important educational role to play in society, but I wonder how often they strive more for sensationalism rather than educational reporting? Neil Postman would have tended to agree with the former analysis I think, at least if I read his book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” perceptively.
I think we have a huge need for community centers today that serve as resources for the young, the middle aged and the old. I am not an expert on community centers, but I see a lot of prospects here. Kids want to play computer and console games, and get together with others who do too. I can envision a great role for community centers having at least one day a week for supervised youth gaming in a computer lab. If these get popular (and why wouldn’t they, besides the fact that students in some neighborhoods are too busy with too many scheduled activities already) then admission could be limited by tickets. To get a ticket, students would have to bring a parent or guardian to an evening discussion about Internet safety issues, as well as a discussion about great places to go online for fun and school research.
Maybe this is unrealistic dreaming, but I don’t think so. We DO need to be educating each other constantly, about both the dangers and the opportunities which abound in our 21st century digital environment. I think schools and community centers are natural places for parents and young people to gather around for both fun and learning.
In addition to talking about the dangers and the “dark side” of cyberspace, however, I am convinced students and parents should also learn about the great opportunities which are available via the Internet. News articles like that one in our local paper last weekend about MySpace should be balanced by news stories about the GREAT things happening in our schools and community centers with technology. How students are videoconferencing, instant messaging, and emailing pen pals across the nation and globe to learn about each other’s cultures and environments. How students are developing their research, writing, and oral presentation skills by producing regular podcasts about their community and school. Stuff like that.
But are things like that happening in our community? In our schools? I am not positive, but I don’t think so. I think most teachers and students are content to use computers for Accelerated Reader tests, computer aided instruction, Google-powered Internet research, word processing and PowerPoint presentations. My response to that? Yawn! So much potential, but so little use– especially of disruptive technologies!
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On this day..
- Use Celly to Setup a Free Text Messaging Group Chat - 2013
- Using TweetChat to Follow Educational Twitter Chats - 2013
- First Lesson in Minecraft (and why I waited a year to ask my son to teach me) - 2013
- Samsung Galaxy Note Smartphone - 2012
- Twitter - A Powerful Collaboration Tool for Teachers by Eric Langhorst - 2012
- Digital Storytelling by Anne Daugherty - 2012
- 21st Century Classrooms: What does it take to Start? by Dyane Smokorowski #mace11 - 2011
- XO Laptops coming to Birmingham, Alabama - 2008
- Videoconferencing across a state - 2006
- CapMac Presentation featured in February 2005 newsletter - 2005