Time’s Googling for Your Grade

internet_famous

A la Dan Pink and his focus on design, Time magazine recently posted an article about students using design to become famous in the Google world we live in. Jamie Wilkinson, educator at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, had an idea. He would teach students how to become famous (or at least their sites) on the Internet. What is the point? Why would these kids care?

As Wilkinson sees it, this is the world in which his students will be competing — a world wide web where almost everyone is “trying to become viral, and constantly confronting savvy online audiences that have razor-sharp b___s___ detectors.”

Software is being used to track the popularity of the student sites. They can even check in on the class blog (Warning: mature language possible) for updates. Wilkinson’s curriculum is designed to give students direction on making their blogs famous and staying on top. But is that enough for the students who are graded basically on how software perceives their popularity? Would they turn that knowledge into a unique design to capture the attention of web users everywhere? When the heat is on and the semester winds down, how much of this new content would come in handy? Or would they just embed a sleazy YouTube video to generate traffic from the work of others?

As Wilkinson goes around the class, asking people to show what digital art they’ve made over the last week, it’s clear these tawdry music videos are the hit of the day. One student reveals that his short video has generated 13,000 views in only a few days. “Wow, talk about selling out,” Wilkinson marvels. “I thought you weren’t going to stoop that low…but you can’t deny the numbers. Look at those page views; that’s amazing!”

Hmmmm. Design? I guess some things never change.  How would the results of this class’s choices change the curriculum next year? Seems like it is an interesting social experiment in itself.  I am thinking some deeper ethics guidelines or morality conversations just might be in order for version 2.  But that’s just me I suppose.

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Using Google Maps to Find a Toilet…and more

woisd_googleHere is a great list of Google Maps links to all types of mash-ups. Look at the clouds, track a package, explore and map the Bible, map 2008 campaign contributions, track terrorism, or even find a public toilet.  You name it, it seems to be a part of this great list.  This might even give you some ideas to try out on your own.

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Google Docs and the Writing Process

Janelle BenceGoogle has teamed up with Weekly Reader to create lesson plans for the revision stage of the writing process.  This is a great way to learn revision while collaborating in a cool read/write web sort of way.  These lesson plans are directed toward teenage students, but any teacher worth his or her salt can adapt and modify to fit other ages.

Learning Google Docs has saved our middle school campus a ton of time by sharing documents and spreadsheets campus-wide eliminating the need to walk to check a sheet in the office or meet just to agree on a revision or final copy.  Our students need to begin learning this process as well.  Revision is the toughest part of the writing process because the ownership is so near and dear (or laziness sets in).  Take this chance to engage your students in the process by utilizing the free tools we have available on the Internet.  You will be surprised how many decide to voluntarily work on their writing at home.  Seriously.

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Students2oh

Arthus seems to have joined with a group of other techie teens and decided to step up and step out. Way to go! This group of intrinsically motivated teenage learners from around the globe are set to rock the Edublogosphere. I say, more power to them. I always love to get different perspectives, especially from individuals who are passionate about their learning. And, boy is this group just that. Check out the promo video here. Chek out their new site here.

Folks, if you are not listening to this group now, wait until they are running for office to control your future. You will surely be surprised then. You’re gonna wonder where they came from, but you’re going to be proud they took initiatives like the one they are undertaking now. I know I am.

Rock on guys and gals. I look forward to great things from the “silent majority.”

Thanks to nearly everyone in my feed reader for the links including: Karl, Brian, John, Jen, Darren, and more….. Man, it’s nice to be connected like this.

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Oh. no. he. didn’t.

threat_levelCNN/YouTube Republican Debate on November 27, 2007:

In Wednesday’s CNN/YouTube debate, Sen. John McCain let slip a fairly stunning admission. The Arizona Republican assured viewers that he wouldn’t need to lean on his vice president, George W. Bush-style, for national security expertise, but might “rely on a vice president” for help on less important issues such as “information technology, which is the future of this nation’s economy.”

Surely he didn’t say that. Right? I mean, how could he consider information technology “less important” while also saying the “future of this nation’s economy” is built around it? Herein lies our problems.

Legislators and congressmen are really good about trumpeting the importance of technology and its use in the classroom. They seem to realize its importance in the future of our society (as evidenced by the economy statement) and that without question our nation’s teachers and students should be masters of its use. Graduating high school and college students without the prerequisite technology skills is considered a travesty. But then they turn back around and either cut/eliminate spending on edtech or say something stupid like what the presidential hopeful said above. When it comes to technology, presidents and other national leaders have had such classic statements as “the Google” or “the Internets.” There is more than one? Are you kidding me? And we should vote for people like that? What if these same folks said things like “those Irans” or “I will only get consultation on less important things like hunger in America.” Would we accept that from a national leader we have elected to be our representative in the international spotlight?

When you consider we are on the verge of standardized testing for technology proficiency in Texas, surely we need someone who understands that you cannot teach such skills without the equipment. Equipment requires funding. Then again, it really is not about the equipment directly but more indirectly. Still, you cannot do it without the required materials.

You see, the aforementioned candidate does have it right in one way. A priority is information literacy. Our students and staff need to understand the importance of navigating the overwhelming amount of information they are receiving at ever increasing speeds. Students are required to master more and more earlier and earlier. Why they do not have the manipulation of much of that information channeled through technology tools (hardware and software, fixed and mobile, direct source and collaborative, etc.) is a little disheartening. It is cheating them in many aspects because they are going to face it in that manner after the PK-12 days are over whether they are prepared or not.

It is too easy to say the problem with our politicians is caused by a generational gap. That is ludicrous to consider as a valid excuse in today’s times (we don’t accept with our educators). What if we allow politicians to place the same treatment on other issues near and dear to our hearts? Literacy. Health Care. Poverty. AIDS.

So again I must ask, is this the type of comment we want any of our leaders to make?

I am not endorsing any candidate or party within this post. What I am advocating is that we make ourselves more educated on the candidates with the issues important to our classes full of kids, not to mention our personal futures as citizens in this great nation. McCain is expecting his VP to understand such trivial topics like information technology. Isn’t it very likely his VP choice would come from the group of folks standing next to him on the debate stage? Don’t believe that “your” candidate can just have someone really good on staff to take care of what they do not know about. They must truly understand the importance of the issues.

By the way, were you aware that one of the parties nearly did not have a CNN/YouTube debate? Too many of its candidates were scared of what it (the ability for citizens to ask questions via video online) had to offer. Funny how technology can do that to the uninformed. Don’t let our students end up like that. Uninformed in technology = illiterate in technology. Illiterate in technology = “Would you like fries with that?”

Thanks to a Tweet from Carolyn Foote (librarian at Westlake High School in Austin, TX) for bringing the article to my attention.

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