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Ed Tech Thoughts on the Space Coast
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Ed Tech Thoughts on the Space Coast


Social Learning, Careers, and Networks

Are you connected? Or have you isolated yourself intellectually?

These are questions for our students as we help them find their place in the world and develop them into life-long learners. I suspect we are not doing a very good job of emphasizing this which is one of the most important of the digital world citizen skills.

As I watch my 18 and 21 year old children, I recognize that their most important goals are assisted by social network technologies (texting, Facebook™, Flickr, etc.). Their priorities (currently) seem to be social ranking and grouping in general. I can only hope that they eventually will find their efforts gravitating towards expanding their ‘professional/intellectual/spiritual’ positions and leveraging their network to expand their realm of influence and circle of resources.

Is it a ‘new type’ of metacognition that I am engaging in here? As I am thinking about intentionally nurturing relationships I want to share my passion for learning and giving back to that same community. The key word I think is
intentional - that is being mindful of how I am connecting. Understanding that there is real value in some connections and yet other connections are a distraction from growth. This seems to be an increasingly important self-evaluation that we and our students need to make.

Most of us who are parents encouraged our children to ‘choose their friends wisely’. We talked about friends that were bad influences and being a friend that was a good influence. Once again, technology amplifies the implications of real world opportunities, skills, and such in the
virtual world of cyberspace.

You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter. With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.

President Obama • May 2010 Commencement Address • Hampton University, Virginia

I think it may be very hard (some say impossible) to teach ethics and values. Perhaps if we were to see more classrooms leveraging Web 2.0 and Social Networking technologies as learning tools; perhaps if more of our teachers were able to share how they themselves were networked, lifelong learners; perhaps then this issue of the distracted, networked learner would be alleviated and the double edged sword of technology would reap great benefits.

Disciplined networking and informed/evaluated access to others is what will determine the character of the
24/7 media environment that our President has referred to.

Yea, I am tired of Farmville!

I am a longtime fan of social networks- I think that social networking is one of the paradigm shifters of this age. But seriously Facebook, do I have to see this stuff everytime I check in?

I want to keep up to date with my friends, but some of these idiotic ‘games’, ‘apps’, ‘surveys’, ‘profiles’, ‘trivia challenges’, etc. are getting terribly tedious and annoying.

I would rather know that you had a bagel for breakfast, than that you have a ‘Virtual Aquarium’. ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!

Facebook, is there any way to opt out of such idiocy? I don’t want to dump my friends and sometimes they have something worthwhile to day... I don’t want to judge their use of time- every should give their brain a vacation occasionally, but come on!!!

Where Do Social Networks Fit Into the Student's Educational Experience?

This Fall's Rock Our World Collaboration project is #11 in a series pioneered by Apple Distinguished Educator, Carol Anne McGuire. The success and enthusiasm for this project have created tremendous interest from international education observers, theorists, and practitioners.

In fact, ROW #11 has been selected to be the subject of a documentary by Cameron & David Barrett and their production company,
RIcom Creative. Their Executive Producer, Terry Sanders, a two-time Academy Award winning director/producer, will make "Harmony: The Story of Rock Our World."

So amongst the requests of the documentary makers, is the request for a more open/public view of the process- and Carol Anne has established a Ning community for planning and exchanging ideas. Within a few days of open registrations, she had a
spammer join the Ning and begin to offer some Google™ - based marketing opportunity. Distracting at worse and harmless in the view of most – it did cause us to pause and rethink the open community model. What if it had been someone more offensive or harmful?

Mutual friend and digital education diva, Lucy Gray made the observation this summer at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute that personal learning community memberships should (usually) be managed. Lucy has established a number of Nings that are quite popular including the Global Education Collaborative, and she also had a problem with enterprising posers dropping in to the community for commercial interests outside of the Ning’s mission.

So if membership is closed, who is it closed to?
Now we have to pass judgement, set policy, and review each applicant to our community?
Although it may sound contrary to our desire for open dialog, it is one of those time-honored policies that are being reinterpreted in a new context. Not everyone one and every message is permitted access to our physical school’s campus.

Especially where students are concerned, we need to define our mission and regulate our participants based on that mission.