Two Pithy Quotes on Social Media & Democracy

How can worldwide social media companies ensure that their digital tools are not used to promote chaos?

Social media and the digital tools that we use every day have transported us into a strange new era. As we use these tools to work and play we tacitly  allow them to collect incredible amounts of our personal information — content that documents our lives, likes, loves, and dislikes —  and we become sitting ducks for sham news and fraudulent information. Those who possess our information, good guys or bad, can use impersonal algorithms to assess and use our data.  Read my post about using Duck, Duck Go.

Fast Company’ article, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt On Fake News, Russia, And Information Warfare describes how Google and social media companies were caught off guard by the manipulation of their systems and the prevalence of divisive news. The October 29, 2017, article by Austin Carr contains two interesting comments by titans of digital industry, though neither of them testified at the Capitol Hill hearings.    Continue reading

Some Kids May Wish That Social Media Had Never Been Invented…

Children, at least some of them, may be getting tired of social lives dominated by social media.

An October 5, 2017, article in The Guardian, Growing Social Media Backlash Among Young People, Survey Shows, describes the results of a United Kingdom study about social networking. After surveying 5,000 students, researchers found that nearly 63 percent of young respondents are  “…disillusioned with the negative aspects of the technology, such as online abuse and fake news.”  This makes me wonder how children in other countries might respond to the same question. Continue reading

Even a Web Founder Worries about Today’s Connected World Climate

the-innovators-9781476708706_hr-1Can a world wide web creator be a doubter about what he helped to create?

I’ve just finished reading The Innovators by Walter Isaacson, a book that highlights the many people who helped create, step-by-step, the digital world where we now reside.

The book begins way back in the mid-1800s with the ideas of Lady Ada Lovelace, an amateur mathematician (and the daughter of poet Lord Byron). It was Lady Ada, Isaacson writes, who provided the ideas and laid groundwork for early computer developers to use nearly 100 years later when they created their first computing machines.                              Continue reading

Classifying News Sources With a Venn-Diagram Mapping Strategy

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See larger image below.

How to scrutinize, classify, organize, and evaluate today’s media — as much as possible, online and off? That’s the question.

As we search for ideas that can help young people explore news sources, evaluate their preferences, examine how the media outlets identify and share facts, we mustn’t forget incorporating the the opportunity to talk with one another about the perspective that each source brings to its news-sharing. Recently I found Vanessa Otero’s interesting diagram that demonstrates how we can focus on media sources as well as consider their viewpoints and biases.

Evaluating 21st Century news is more complex than it’s ever was in the 20th Century. Reading the news is de-emphasized and watching the news is more prevalent, so we don’t interact much with information sources. The Internet and cable television channels allow opinions or made-up stories to masquerade as news sources — even when those opinions have no credible or factual source. Social media amplifies everything. Truth and expertise are incidental.                                                                             Continue reading

George Takei’s TED Lecture About His Family’s Internment During WW II

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Watch George Takei’s TedTalk.

My recent blog post Japanese Internment in the U.S. — Information to Share With Your Students, was filled with learning tools that teachers (and parents, too) can use to help young people learn about the Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. One of the connected world resources merits it’s own post.

Recommended by a colleague, George Takei’s TED Talk, Why I Love a Country the Once Betrayed Me, describes what happened when soldiers arrested his family and imprisoned them at one of the internment camps.Takei, who played Sulu on Star Trek, explains how his parents lost everything and yet possessed the resilience to start rebuilding their lives after the United States government allowed them to leave the camp. I was sure that I had watched this talk, but it turned out that I had not.

Takei’s TedTalk is powerful and engaging, and it brings to life fear, sorrow, patriotism, and the terrible things that can happen when people fear others solely because of their race and ethnic background.

An important lesson in this age when so many people fear refugees and others because of their religion..

Teaching Civility to Kids? Excellent Resource @ WikiHow

Civil behavior is a fundamental building block of our democracy, and throughout our history both children and adults have strived — and occasionally struggled — to demonstrate it through their behavior. In our 21st Century connected world, civility has become even more difficult for many people to understand and attain because certain aspects of digital life can thwart many individual’s good intentions.

unnamedIf you are seeking useful information about civility to share in your school or community, check out How to Teach Civility to Kids, over at wikiHow. The article is, in essence, a tutorial, explaining what adults should do to encourage young people to grow into civil and kind individuals, and it offer specific ideas for conversations and activities.

Parents and teachers spend an enormous amount of their time and energy focusing with children on why it’s important to become civil individuals and  emphasizing that these principles are the same either online or off. Yet educators and adults need continuing support and guidance as they go about the work of promoting and upholding civility. Their challenges are encouraging kids to learn how to be respectful and how to disagree respectfully and  demonstrating to children the importance of being polite, even when they don’t feel like it. Encouraging children to assist others and be kind anytime ensures that children understand much more about what it means to be civil. The wikiHow article offers information and help. Continue reading

Post-Election Resources that Support Learning, Dialogue, and Understanding

unnamedAs an educator, parent, and grandparent, I’m heartbroken about the increase in hateful and offensive activities that so many children have witnessed, front and center, during the long months of the 2016 presidential campaign. Just how do we talk to kids when they’ve observed and heard so much?

I ask this question because we parents and educators know the actions to take (where to help and support others, places to volunteer, etc.), the values we want to model (kindness, respect, honoring differences, integrity), and the civics concepts that we need to be certain our students understand — but our task will far more difficult in the 2016 post-election world.

Below is a list or election response and media literacy resources that I’ve found especially useful this past week, materials that I selected because they offer ideas that we can use long-term, not just in the days following the election. Please be in touch if you find other resources that might be added to this list.                   Continue reading