Tag Archives: fear

Dangerous new (cyber)world

I firmly believe that we should educate students for their world.

There’s no doubt that they will function in an online and networked world, even more than they are doing now.

Yesterday our staff listened to Susan McLean’s talk about the dangers of the cyberworld. I became increasingly uncomfortable as the horror stories unfolded at the expense of a more balanced view, or even in terms of focusing on how we could manage cybersafety education.

I want to share my letter to the principal in the hope of opening up a conversation which will fill in the gaps to create a balanced picture of what we should be doing to educate our students as citizens of their future world.

To balance out last night’s presentation on cyberbullying, I would like to suggest that you look at ACMA which provides excellent links to resources and free PD.

 For example, here is the page for teens with practical help

 Here is the school page

There is free professional development

You can browse the site – it is set out clearly, and very helpful.

 I hope that our staff have been discerning in understanding that Susan McLean has presented a very extreme picture, describing the worst case scenarios (many of them), which should be acknowledged for what they are – worst case scenarios. It was difficult not to be affected by her stories; I know I was starting to panic and my instinct to run and save myself kicked in.

 What was unmistakable – Susan only mentioned that online involvement could be positive at the beginning and end of the presentation – she didn’t give examples. Her language was emotionally charged, and her numerous horror stories were dramatic.

It would be a shame if staff who were already resistant to technology and strangers to online possibilities in education, were to run even further away from technology – especially as we are a laptop school. We have to remember that we are educating students for their technology-rich world, not our world or the world of our own schooling.

 Just yesterday I was moderating comments in my fiction blog – no comments will be published until I approve them. I’m encouraging comments to inspire discussion around books and reading, and I noticed a student had commented on a student review of the new Harry Potter movie. The comment was fine, but the last sentence inappropriately put down a boy who had received a scholarship. I found the boy, had a little chat with him about what was inappropriate in the comment (he understood), and asked him to resubmit the comment without the negative part. This is part of students’ ongoing education – who else will teach them how to behave online if we don’t?

 We need, more than ever, to understand the power of these technologies, and educate our students to use them responsibly. The only way we will understand these from the inside is if we play with them ourselves. I would be more than happy to show you my Facebook and Twitter involvement – they are an important part of my professional development and educational support.

 What is also imperative, is that we don’t mix up the problematic online activities of our students in their leisure time with the technology that can be used to support teaching and learning, eg. Blogs, nings, etc.

 When you have time, please have a look at the 7M ning – we are thrilled to have Allan Baillie, author of our literature study, ‘Little Brother’, as part of our ning, ready to join the students in discussion. What better way to learn about the book than have the author answer questions – this is authentic learning. The boys and Maria and I are excited that Allan has agreed to join us, and we spent yesterday’s lesson reading his life story on his website in preparation for our interaction with him.

 I hope you accept my email in the spirit it has been written. I believe that we need to educate our students for their world. We should not bury our heads in the sand, but accept the challenge, moving past our own discomfort with technology, and taking up our responsibility to educate responsible citizens.

Thanks to Lisa Dumicich for the link to ACMA on Twitter.

I would be extremely  interested in hearing what you think about this issue of cybersafety and the use of Web 2.0 technologies in education. Please enter into the conversation.

26 Comments

Filed under 21st century learning, Education, internet, network literacy, networking, teaching, technology, Web 2.0

Power of the network

The last couple of days have been very interesting. I’d like to share what I have learned since I shared on this blog a discussion about favouring an external blog to an internal one.

Above all, I learned that I could depend on the people in my network. Who are these people? Some of them I’ve met face to face; some I’ve come to know through my involvement in online networks; a few I’ve only just met in the course of this blog issue.

Amazingly,  over 200 people read my last blog post. Much as I’d like to convince you otherwise, I don’t normally record such a readership. How did I receive such a response?

After writing out my response to the Computer Systems Manager, then posting this with my response to him, I sent a link to the post out on Twitter, asking for people to enter into the discussion. I wanted to generate discussion, and to collect people’s views and perspectives. Discussion is a healthy and powerful thing. It’s a good idea to find out what others think even if they don’t agree with you, and in some cases, particularly when they don’t agree with you, since it pushes your thinking.

Apart from clarifying my own thinking with regard to the value of Web 2.0 technologies and their role in learning and teaching, in writing out this issue I gained valuable insights from others using the Web 2.0 platforms. Herein lies the power of these technologies – not in the technology itself, but in the powerful connections with people, people with unique backgrounds, experiences, qualifications, talents, and ideas.

The people who commented my post were educators or involved in education in some way. They responded quickly, and they came from around Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth) and overseas (Hong Kong and USA).  Click on their names next to the comments and read their profiles and their blogs to make their acquaintance.

My online networks are full of professionals whose reading and links, ideas and talents, I follow. If I need an idea, advice, professional reading, teaching material, and more, I go to this network. And I try to be helpful in return. Anyone who has experienced the collective wisdom of online networks will tell you the same. It is not about the technology.

Our students will go into the world needing support and continued learning. If we help them understand and navigate appropriate networks, we will be laying the foundations for support systems. We should allow them to learn within supervised online environments, teaching them how to write and interact appropriately and in a safe way, to share ideas and solve problems with relevant groups of people, etc.

As educators, our view of what is essential for student learning needs to change. Our students’ world will be fast-paced and changeable, requiring adaptability and resourcefulness. Our students will need to know how to find what they need, and who to trust. They will hopefully be able to discern who to follow and how to behave.

Change is never easy. One of my mentors, and co-founder (with Will Richardson) of the Powerful Learning Practice model, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, has just written a blog post about change, which she prefaces with the following quotations:

 “It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.”  James Gordon, M.D.

“Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.” King Whitney Jr.

Sheryl uses the metaphor of her recent house renovation to deconstruct the journey towards building change, towards the creation of something new. She documents this process insightfully, and I recommend you read the entire post.   I thought I’d pull out some of the phrases that resonated with me in Sheryl’s post.  She talked about the challenge of

keeping the momentum and the dream of the transformation alive

She also said:

There are times I wanted to throw in the towel and thought as outdated as the home was at least there was peace and comfort.

 things will look worse before they get better

Fear is a big part of it too

Trust is another issue. Do the experts I have hired to make these changes a reality have the know how and wisdom to make it all happen

I’d like to end my post with another one of Sheryl’s quotes:

 For change to take hold and redefine people and the places they live and grow there needs to be a time of inquiry, reflection, and visioning.

I’m grateful that I have people with whom to share my inquiry, reflection and visioning.

8 Comments

Filed under 21st century learning, blogging, debate, learning, network literacy, networking, teachers, teaching, technology, Web 2.0, writing

A different language

I’m still thinking in an expansive way about different ways of seeing, learning, living. I found this on Twitter thanks to @ggrosseck

Sometimes I feel my vision of people and the way things work is so tunnel-narrow. I really need to open up my understanding. It’s frightening to admit that foreigness can cause such a defensive reaction.

Here is the blog of this passionate autistic woman. This is how she describes herself and the purpose of her blog: 

This is a blog by a self-advocate who has participated in several aspects of the disability rights movement including autistic liberation, psychiatric survivor, mainstream disability rights, and developmental disability self-advocacy.

What do you think of the video or the blog?

3 Comments

Filed under creativity, Education, film, language, learning, Remarkable

Change hurts but we don’t want to get stuck to the chair

Even sitting in the same room but moving the chair to face the opposite way gives you a different perspective on things.

Today our team of 5 joined other Australian teams and our leaders, Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, for the first face-to-face Australian meeting for the Powerful Learning Practice program. Will and Sheryl spoke about how the world is changing but how schools are not. We’ve had this conversation many times at school. It always seems like a difficult challenge, one that weighs us down. It isn’t going to happen. We push and push but the resistance is too strong. But somehow, today, the same challenge wasn’t as threatening. It seemed understandable. I remembered my own recent beginnings with technology. No, back even further, times in my life when the comfortable and familiar were disrupted by change. My first child, moving overseas, my first online experience for a post-grad degree, things like this. We all have them. It’s good to remember these times, and sensible to expect them to happen again. We’re not different to those people who protest against change, except that we’ve climbed over onto the other side of the fence. Some of us have sprinted over, some have struggled over and got our pants caught on a nail, and others have climbed under.

Sheryl reminded us that we need to develop flexibility and patience when things don’t work out; we need adaptability. I’m thinking that we’re like some sort of evolving species as we try to move with the times. We’re not comfortable when we start growing extra legs; it hurts!

But when change freaks me out, I have to remind myself that I also like moving the furniture around. It gets boring sitting and looking at the same view. There are new configurations to be discovered.

3 Comments

Filed under Education, Teacher librarians, Web 2.0

#11. Let’s face it …


new-2

Originally uploaded by tania.sheko

A little background … My older son was one of the last to ‘be allowed’ to use MSN, Facebook and MySpace. What am I saying? He was one of the last to ‘be allowed’ a gameboy, Nintendo, to watch The Simpsons, South Park, etc. Reflecting back on my reluctance to condone MSN, Facebook and MySpace, I have to admit amongst many other reasons, a distinct nervousness about this new way of socialising. True to every generation, I was afraid of change, and I wasn’t in control of this socialnetworking – I didn’t understand it at all. When you don’t understand something, you’re likely to be suspicious of it. Could even be paranoid about it.

Some time this year – I don’t remember why – I decided to ‘get’ Facebook. That weekend I don’t think I even came up for air. I was hooked. In a short time, I’d ‘found’ people I’d lost touch with and minutes later was communicating with them – my god-daughter in Sacramento, friends from Sydney we’d lost touch with – we had lived in Sydney for 13 years. Posted photo albums revealed young people we had known well as young children. I was able to see friends’ trips all over the world. I saw albums of weddings, christenings and other events.

The different levels of communication have proved interesting. When suddenly finding someone I knew but hadn’t seen for ages, and unsure of whether they wanted to reconnect, I was able to ‘poke’ them, leaving it up to them whether they wanted to communicate or not. Brief responses indicated a more distant willingness, whereas some responses were overwhelmingly positive and took the form of private emails. Writing on people’s walls is public with the knowledge of others being able to read everything. Very twitter-like is the initial few words that everyone adds which lets you know what they are doing or thinking or feeling in the last day or so. Sounds trite but sometimes I’m happy to be informed of things on the run – eg. if someone has passed an exam, got a new job, is sick, etc. You’re not expected to respond. It also means that you don’t have to email everyone separately with those little things.

Lastly, I have to admit, it’s addictive. If you’re the kind of person who has to check emails throughout the day (yes, it’s a little sad), then watch out – Facebook is worse because all your ‘friends’ are up there together and there’s so much going on at once.

Yes, I have changed my attitude to my sons’ participation with Facebook. I think it’s a good lesson, and one that can be translated to our experience as teachers/teacherlibrarians. If you don’t ‘do’ something, you won’t really know what it’s about. You’re more likely to be negative, suspicious, critical. But if you don’t keep up, not only could you alienate young people, you could miss out on a lot.

PS. Yes I do have a life. I also live in the real world.
I’d love to hear about others’ thoughts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Web 2.0