Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alternatives to web lockdown in education

Right now most schools respond to the Internet with lockdown. Given the stories about kids, inappropriate material and the potential for harm, fear is understandable.

But this approach comes with a price, namely, it will force students to cultivate their personal learning networks outside school, where they can use web tools they understand to pursue personal and professional goals that they design. As the gap between what students learn within and outside school continues to grow, school, with its lockdown, minimal access to technology and severely antiquated approach to learning, will seem less and less relevant.

There are other approaches to consider. If we don’t like what we see on YouTube, then let’s help our students create the best stuff there. If we look askance at blogging because it seems irrelevant or harmful, then let’s show kids how to write blogs that are relevant and helpful. If we want them to understand the risks and opportunities of digital citizenship, then let’s talk to them about appropriate virtual behavior, and then follow up by giving them opportunities to practice what they learn, and reap the consequences of not honoring the trust given to them.

And if this is simply not permissible, then let's at least involve parents in the conversation and ask what they want. Would they rather have schools step into the fray or keep out? And if they don't trust schools to manage this situation, can we blend what students do at home, where parents have some influence, with what they do at school? It brings a whole new meaning to the word "homework."

Whatever we do, let’s stand ready to help students process whatever happens. Right now lockdown gives them no opportunities to do this.

Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Orchestrating the Media Collage- Digital literacy in an era of new media

Here is some grist for the mill for those of you leading initiatives in the area of 21st century skills and digital literacy. Educational Leadership magazine recently published an article of mine titled Orchestrating the Media Collage. It has the following subtitle:
  • “Being able to read and write multiple forms of media and integrate them into a meaningful whole is the new hallmark of literacy.”
The article provides an overview of the nature of digital literacy, as well as eight guidelines that can help teachers, parents and policy makers promote the crucial skills associated with digital literacy.

Read Orchestrating the Media Collage at the Educational Leadership site.