Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Growing Up Online

I've heard about Frontline's new documentary, "Growing Up Online," tonight it is on PBS in my area for the first time. Here is my running diary and reaction to some of the show. You can watch the video online by clicking on the image on the left.

The show opens with a parent talking about how it is easier for him to connect to his child via email than in person. The child then discusses how he circumvents the parental controls on AOL. How many kids in your classes are capable of circumventing firewalls and filters? Probably more than you think.

The show then moves to a high school in Chatham, NJ where every teacher is using a Smartboard or LCD projector (I wish I had that at my school). The principal states how important it is to meet students where they are. Students multitask in all aspects of their lives so they should do the same at school. This is one of the best arguments for integrating technology.

9:15 Students discuss how important MySpace and Facebook are to their social lives. Students use social networking sites to plan social life. Some conflicts start online or are carried over from school to online or vice-versa. Are you seeing this in your school? I am.

9:17 Ann Collier states that teens today are far more comfortable sharing who they are online than in person. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

9:19- Jessica Hunter used Myspace to experiment with different identities. Reinvents herself as a Goth model named Autumn Meadows, her parents never knew. Jessica talks about how using Myspace made her feel like she was "famous." Many students probably feel the same way Jessica does/ did before her parents took away her MySpace account.

9:25- Chatham, NJ parents (Mrs. Skinner, PTO president) speak about their number one concern of having her kids online, stalkers and predators. Very valid concern. MySpace has recently taken aggressive action to stop predatory behavior on the web.

9:29- Three high school girls say that they have been online since they were in second grade. Something to remember when planning lessons. Remember the teacher at the beginning of the program who said how important it was to meet students' multitasking nature?

9:31- A number of students state how easy it is to recognize obvious predatory/ random requests and turn them down. A result of growing up online and being informed and taught to recognize scams online.

9:32- Ann Collier talks about the nature of most online solicitation.

9:37- Chatham, NJ PTO president discusses the email she sent out to all parents when she found out about drinking/ party videos and pictures posted on the internet. Her son has since closed himself from the family.

9:40 - Ryan Halligan's father regrets putting a computer in his bedroom. Ryan was being bullied online and at school. Mr. Halligan logged on to his account after Ryan had committed suicide. Ryan was the victim of a ring of cyberbullies. Ryan's mother makes a great point by saying that in the old days if you were bullied at school you had the safe haven of home. But because of cyberbullying that is not always true.

9:44- A girl from Ryan's class makes a great point. Online people can be as tough and confrontational as they want from the safety of home. Fantastic point from a young source.

9:50- Dannah Boyd (Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society)- makes a great point. The answer is not to "stop MySpace" and social networking sites, but to teach students how to be good citizens online. How much of a role as teachers do we have in this process?

This is a program that every parent and teacher should watch with their children and students respectively. It will be an eye-opener for many parents and teachers. Watching the program with your children or students will give you their thoughts about online life. The bottom line- the Internet is an integral part of students' lives, as teachers we need to acknowledge and plan for that fact.
Watch the program online by clicking the image above. It is broken into six chapters for easier viewing online. I plan to watch it again this week.

Free Technology For Teachers: World Economic Forum

Okay so this isn't exactly a new web application or technology, but it is worth mentioning, the World Economic Forum is holding its annual meeting this week. The overarching question for this year's meeting is "what one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008?" The World Economic Forum will be based around this question. You can watch the meetings by clicking here.
I've embedded a sample video from a preconference meeting.

Application for Educators
The questions presented at the World Economic Forum are the questions that will face our students in the future. Get them thinking about these questions today.

Free Technology for Teachers: Expert Advice from MonkeySee is a collection of videos produced by acknowledged experts in their field., like many other video websites, has channels or categories. The channel most useful to teachers and students is the Careers & Education channel. Below I've embedded a video from the Careers & Education channel about the college admission process.

Applications for Educators provides educators with a reliable video website to direct students toward. The Careers & Education channel has a lot of good advice including interviewing tips for students preparing to head into the workforce after high school. The Careers & Education channel has very solid advice for students and parents as they prepare for the college admissions process.

Free Tech For Teachers: The U- College Campus Reviews by Students is a college campus review for prospective students created by current students. has all the information about campus life that is important to prospective students from current students. features videos made in dining halls, in classrooms, and recreation facilities. In some cases has videos about off campus activities. I have embedded a video below from about Washington University's dining hall and meal plans. I should also point out that allows prospective students to ask questions of current students.

Organize and Collaborate with Stixy is a organization and collaboration web tool. Stixy, as the name implies, allows you to write notes and stick them to a clipboard. This sounds no different than the built in Sticky application on your Mac. Stixy takes it a step further by allowing you to share you notes with others and have them respond to your notes. The Stixy clipboard has three other great features, the ability to stick and share documents, stick and share photographs, and create and share a "to do" list on the clipboard and on a calendar. Stixy does not require any downloads and operates on any operating system. Below you will see a screen shot of the clipboard I'm using right now.

Applications for Education

Stixy is useful for creating a calendar of events or units of study to share with students and parents. Stixy shared "to do" list function could be useful to helping students stay organized while working on long projects. Finally, the ability to customize and personalize the look of the Stixy clipboard may encourage students to use their Stixy clipboard regularly.