Just when you feel good about your digital world learning curve, a new device operating system brings a serious case of update-time discomfort. While none of us ever stops learning, sometimes these periods of relearning tasks that, in theory, we already know pretty well can be daunting.
I work with educational technology in a school, where updates are part of the job. Yet each time I need to relearn routine tasks I get a healthy reminder that when it comes to digital skill problem-solving and tinkering, I remain a digital immigrant — always a bit slower at figuring out new things than most of my digitally native students. [See note at the end of this post.]
A few nights ago, when I read the stories about the new iOS7 for my iPhone, I resolved to wait a week or two and let any glitches work themselves out. But the next afternoon, Julian, a middle school student, stopped by my technology office asking questions about the cool new iOS7 system that he was downloading — that very minute. I did not know the answers to his questions.
Aha, I thought. Some of my students may need my help. So the next morning at 5:30, I downloaded the new operating system on my iPhone. An hour later with a somewhat different looking device, I fumbled around, located my Audible account, and listened to my latest recorded book as I drove to school — while patting myself on the back. I can manage the new iOS7 — not to mention change.
Then I arrived at school, got out of the car, and could not turn off my book. For more than five minutes I stood in the parking lot tapping at vaguely familiar iPhone icons and finally managed to turn it off. But in the process I turned on some bluegrass music. I had no idea where that music was coming from, because as far as I know, bluegrass does not reside on my iPhone.
At the beginning of each academic year, several faculty members at Beloit compile a list to demonstrate how students in the entering freshman college class experience life, learning, and culture differently from many of the adults they know. Some items are silly, others compare digital kids with their parents’ generation; some I don’t understand; and others I can fit into a bit of context, but they are mostly unfamiliar to me.
The list’s mission is to remind educators and parents that it takes energy and openness to new literacies to understand how dramatically the “growing-up” and learning processes change over time (and many of these have nothing to do with digital life).
Hate groups and their members have been around for a long time, but the connected world has amplified their insidious messages for people of all ages. A sizeable percentage of the online messages from these groups are aimed at middle and high school children.
Over the years, I’ve shared my excitement about computers, the Internet, the web, and eventually social media with people of all ages, and I continue to believe in the power of technology and learning. Yet, on a regular basis, a small interior voice of discomfort warned me again and again about extremists’ digital activities. Articles appearing on one of my news feeds would catch my attention, or occasionally a middle or high school student or a parent would comment about hateful comments seen online. Once a colleague shared an article that described how hate groups recruit kids with cool music. Continue reading “Yes, White Supremacists Do Attempt to Recruit Kids Online”→
“It’s time to move past fake news,” suggests an August 30, 2019 editorial in the Toronto Star, which explains the need to amend or change the terminology, instead labeling made-up information as disinformation. The article points out that, while there has always been made up or exaggerated information, our contemporary digital world provides easy and efficient ways to spread disinformation.
Fake news is a misnomer. There is no “news” in it. And the term has become mere shorthand to dismiss anything with which the user of the phrase disagrees.
Quoting scholars including Kathleen Hall Jamieson, at the University of Pennsylvania, and David Runciman at Cambridge University, the Toronto Star editorial writers note that the digital revolution allows people to target various groups with disinformation. Moreover, the digital precision and speed of social media make it easier to challenge the cultural norms of democracy. Sometimes these challenges are designed to make people understand even less about democratic institutions. Continue reading “The Word Fake Really Can’t Describe the Word News”→
Privacy is a big topic on this blog, and today, JULY 9, 2019, was an interesting day in the 21st Century privacy department.
It’s a significant day because just about every newspaper features an article about facial recognition software and how it may be misused by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department (ICE). This government agency uses the facial recognition software to go into state driver’s license databases and collect information about the faces associated with those licenses. This is accomplished without the permission of the people whose images they scan.
As a privacy-conscious person, I turn off facial recognition on Facebook, on my phone, and for my photos, but I never considered my driver’s license. I also did not think that researchers might be harvesting photos from social media, using them to test their facial recognition products.
Do you find yourself nervous and at wits end about all the problems with social media and kids? Do you dread hearing the next news report about kids, screens, and digital addiction because it feels too close to home? Are you regularly worried about the intensity of your own digital activities?
Few people will argue with the notion that our digital world needs tweaking. With data collecting running amock, hackers breaking into corporations around the world, bad actors using social media for espionage, parents’ worrying about screen time, and our personal privacy and information challenged day in and day out, people tend to panic about their kids and themselves. But panic is nothing new. Continue reading “Panic & Fear About Technology — Especially Social Media”→
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Written by James Madison the First Amendment (1A) gives Americans five freedoms — of the press, of speech, of religion, to petition, and to assemble.
Thus the government cannot tell people how to worship, limit what they can say and talk about, or interfere with the press. The words in the First Amendment also say that the government cannot stop people from getting together or assembling peacefully and cannot stop them from asking the government to make changes or just telling the government that they disagree with something.