Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Willie Nelson and What the Web Can Answer Today

It seems that whenever I go somewhere to give a presentation about teaching with technology, there is someone in the audience who will say something to the effect of "this is great, but all of those sites are blocked in my school." This then leads to conversation about strategies for convincing administrators to relax strict filtering policies. One of the places I usually direct people to in those conversations is Unmasking the Digital Truth created by Wes Fryer. Yesterday, I had an experience that led me to drafting an activity that could possibly help critics of open access to the web to understand how valuable the web can be in education.

Yesterday, as I was listening to Willie Nelson I got the urge to look up some information on the web about the hole that appears in his guitar. This led me to thinking about the number of questions that pop into my head every day and how many of those questions would have either gone unanswered or taken a long time to research before the advent of easy Internet access.

Here's my activity idea:
1. Have a person opposed to open Internet access in schools record the number and type of questions they encounter in a given school day or week.
2. Have that person then record the number of those questions that can be answered by resources located in five minutes or less without Internet access.
3. Have that person then record how many of those same questions could be answered by resources found in five minutes of less with Internet access.
4. Compare answers to #2 and #3.

Yes, it's a simple activity that has some holes and plenty of room for "yeah, buts," but the purpose is not to answer all of those "yeah, buts" it's to demonstrate how much more students can discover in a day today than they could just ten years ago.

Image credit: Bob Tilden