This is a nightmare come true, today at Virginia Tech:
A gunman is loose on campus. Stay in buildings until further notice. Stay away from all windows.
The wikipedia article about the event currently reports at least 22 fatalities and 28 injuries.
I had a conversation with someone recently on the issue of college campus security (or insecurity) and the potential for a deadly incident like this to happen virtually anywhere. The fears / potential she was sharing appear to have manifested themselves today in Virginia. Since Columbine we’ve seen lots of security changes happen in K-12 settings, but fewer changes happen on college campuses. That will likely change after today.
I actually wasn’t monitoring any news this morning as I was working, and got an IM from a friend (Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach) who alerted me to this incident. Will this have implications for online and blended learning? As Sheryl reflected, you can’t get shot if you’re in a virtual environment.
This reminds me of the day after the Columbine school shootings in Colorado in April 1999. I was teaching at Rush Elementary School in Lubbock, Texas, at the time. The day afterwards, I was working with a 1st grade class of students and their teacher. Our interconnected / flat world was dramatically revealed that day. The 1st graders didn’t know where Columbine was, and didn’t know all the details of the event, but they knew the previous day some students had been shot at school and they were afraid.
Evil, bad things sadly happen every day in our world. Technology and the mass-media do not always serve to amplify the details of those events to everyone on a regular basis as they do for events like these, however. That is probably a good thing. Just as a person with autism often has difficulty filtering OUT sensory inputs, it seems to increasingly be a challenge to filter out media messages today which come at us from many different sources.
I’m sure we’re going to read, hear, see and participate in a LOT of related discussions to this in the weeks and months ahead. We’ll be talking about campus security, homeland security, gun control, mental illness, local police force response capabilities, concealed-carry laws, and much more.
Here in the United States, we live in a very open society. Unfortunately, part of living in an open society means that we are open to good as well as evil acts.
No matter what the headlines of the day, I do not think we should live in fear. We should be realistic, we should confront dangers, we should follow the law in apprehending, prosecuting, and punishing those responsible for this atrocity, and we should take reasonable steps to be sure our own communities are ready to respond to a similar event.
What we should NOT do, in response to this incident, is live our lives each day in FEAR.
Will this event precipitate a movement to “lockdown” all classrooms on campuses around the nation? I don’t know. I’d bet we’ll see university officials scramble to take some actions, but what forms those actions will take are anyone’s guess. We certainly saw security procedures tighten in most K-12 schools following the Columbine massacre. In most cases, those procedural changes were good. Sadly, however, we are not going to be able to prevent via policies every bad act by every person wanting to commit a bad act. College learning environments are by their very nature much more distributed and openly accessible than many K-12 settings. We can’t just tell all the professors to lock the doors to their classrooms, and keep all entrances to academic buildings locked between 8:15 and 3 pm to protect all the students. Schedules and facility arrangements at universities are very different from what we see in most K-12 settings.
What we DO need and will continue to need are responsible, ethical, and even heroic people who are willing to appropriately take initiative and action when a crisis like this takes place. I’m sure we’ll hear stories about individuals caught in the center of this tragedy in the days to come.
From an information literacy perspective, following the comments on the history page of the WikiPedia entry for this incident is illuminating. What are the authors discussing and commenting on?
- What is the reference for that?
- Are included details and links relevant to this situation?
- Is accurate language being used, or are unwarranted exaggerations being made?
My prayers this day are with the families, friends, and loved ones of the slain and the injured.
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On this day..
- Tender and Sweet First Grade Blog Comments - 2014
- Egypt After Arab Spring: A Paper Slide Video Example and List.ly Bibliography - 2013
- Create a Multi-Track Radio Show (Podcast) with Audacity - 2013
- Create a Free Classroom Photo Sandbox with Picasa #gct - 2012
- Multipoint Videoconferencing: H.323 & Skype on the Blue Jeans Network - 2011
- Alternatives to Ning if free Ning sites are all shut down? - 2010
- links for 2008-04-16 - 2008
- I officially claim this title for my first book - YET unwritten! - 2008
- Frameworks for web 2.0 - 2007
- Education needs to be read/write - 2007