education & tech

mLearning, teacher, scholar, social media

Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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10 Sites You Should Read Before the NECC09 Ends

On Sunday, I did enjoyed listening Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote. Other interesting streaming I was watching was Copyright Confusion by Renee Hobbs. Unfortunately, today I wasn't able to follow interesting conversations particularly about the uses of iPhone/iPod in the classroom as to what was the percentage of this gadgets to present in a classroom to work effectively with students; or Scott Floyd's talk about Wordpress favorite plug-ins.

In exchange, I am going to refer some of the blogs that are posting and giving updates about the NECC09:

Copy Paste by Peter Pappas. In his post he explains about a new tool called StreamGraph that he is using to visualize the latest 1000 tweets which contain the search word 'NECC'

Digital Education by Katie Ash & Kathleen Kennedy Manzo. Today Katie reports on the state of policy and practice related to education technology addressed by Don Knezek, ISTE's CEO.

Andrew B. Watt's Blog The Connecticut history teacher has permanent updates. The most recent post reflects about a the kids’ virtual world Quest Atlantis, a conference call from Australia.

Reflexions by Susan van Gelder. She goes over Steve Dembo's session. Susan do accept that she is not using Bloglines anymore but summarize what she grab in this session about social web tools.

TechChicks by Helen (techchick) & Anna( digimom). These two young Texans are live blogging the NECC09. At session From Information Literacy to Information Leadership. they were lucky enough to talk to Will Richardson just before he took off back home.

Teachers R Learning by Peej. She fills in what we missed on Gladwell's keynote. Makes a wrap up, noting among other things: "Failure isn't failure. It's learning."

EdTechTalk. See and hear edtechtalk "celebrities". Also watch video and script of Lisa Parisi (Cruise) with EdTechTalkers at the NECC Bloggers Cafe.

Design for Learning by Dean Groom. Voice his frustrations as many other participants felt today, retorting: "How on earth does anyone expect to convince anyone that the internet in education is not a black hole. Lack of power outlets, seating and now internet for ‘third space’ informal learning simply wrote off my day."

Examiner by Elaine Plybon. She couldn't make it to the NECC this year. However, she is found the time to write about 5 new tech tools that keep her busy for awhile and without even going to Washington.

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Washington: After the First Day on NECC09

NECC09 DirectionsAs a preamble to what is coming, yesterday started the EdubloggerCon. This unique experience has been organized by Steve Hargadon. The EduBlogger Conference is the 3rd time has been organized for free, and Dr Leigh Zeitz thinks there were 200 attendees.

Today is the 2nd. day of NECC09 and there will be many formal and informal discussions at the National Educational Computing Conference in Washington about how to turn K-12 schools into more digitally friendly learning environments in tough budget times.

I was following the event through Twitter. It was a great day. However, I still have an unanswered question. Kathy Schrock was in a session discussing her Wikipedia bias and I still don't know why she thinks so.

Dr. Z. was at k12onlineconference.org and does a wrap up of what he saw yesterday. Por example, Jeff Uteckt leading discussion, Is blogging really dead?

If you are 'lucky' enough to have the time and money to attend NECC, do you have any responsibility because of that privilege? Scott Meech wants to know, what is your responsibility? At his smeech.net he also list some of his responsibilities that may help improve NECC:

    1. Bring back as much specific knowledge for how classroom teachers can embrace technology in their classroom with specific curricular examples as possible.
    2. Expand my 'Personal Learning Network' by embracing as many professional relationships as possible.
    3. Explore new strategies for approaching resistant educators and solidify my 'Elevator Speech' and 'Board of Education Messages'.
    4. Form foundations of collaboration for our district staff and myself.
    5. Take my own advice and seek out a minimum of 10 attendees that I can 'read' as complete newbies and start a conversation with them.
    6. Seek out conversations with those that can help me hone my communication and persuasive skills so I can become a 'Prophet in my own Backyard'.
    7. Balance attending presentations from those I already know and embrace conversations with those who are not embedded in the 'Walled Garden' of believers.

Sunday will be a even better day in Washington and if you aren't able to make it check NECC Live

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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teachers

Much has been written about headlines and how that way we present it has a deep impact on the attention visitors and readers pay to such an article. And this is one of those cases, deliberately I chose the headline, paraphrasing the popular The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, a business self-help book.

But what makes teachers highly effective?



We should start with two basic premises: Teachers are facilitators and not entertainers even though occasionally have to play that role. The second point to have in mind is that learners are not anymore the passive subject who only listens, new technologies put students in charge of the information they access, they are able to save, reformat and share it.

TESConnect has a list of 7 Secrets Behind Great Teaching. They explain how along Crelos, a business psychologists, they went to analyse the "personalities, motivations and behaviour of 15 award-winning teachers to uncover the seven habits that make them successful in the classroom."

Secrets effective teachers put into practice:

    1. They build confidence

    Many students suffer from low self-esteem, basing their aspirations on celebrities (Michael Jackson just to mention one)and feeling disappointed when their lives don’t match up, so teachers have to build confidence in abundance.

    2. They’re not afraid to make difficult decisions

    Although this is something required of senior management, it is a personality trait rather than a behaviour that can be learnt. It seems natural that 57 per cent of participants have a strong or extremely strong preference for authority, meaning that they are comfortable making difficult or unpopular decisions.

    3. They develop others

    In school, this behavior may be displayed when teachers give up their time to help other colleagues acquire new skills or oversee training days. It is one of the involving behaviors and as well as developing your kids, it’s about developing your own and others’ capabilities by providing opportunities for career development, giving coaching and constructive feedback or setting aside a specific budget for training.

    4. They’re good communicators


    Many of the teachers gave examples of using school displays, songs or analogies to communicate their message. One head that scored well had used the song Proud by Heather Small to convey a message of confidence through the school. Being able to communicate well is fundamental to teaching and all teachers provided evidence of this.

    5. They’re non-conformists

    While teachers may not always admit to it, Kirsten Darling agrees that teachers tend to get bored easily. 'Teachers generally don’t like doing the same thing day in, day out. And the pupils find that more interesting too,' she says. 'There are a lot of structures put in place for teachers that can be quite limiting, but if you have people in management who allow you to pursue your own creativity and be dynamic, that’s ideal.'

    6. They thrive in the company of others

    While a vast proportion of the population spend their working life in front of a screen, teachers spend most of their professional life in front of children. So it’s good to know that teachers enjoy the company of other people and there is a strong leaning towards fellowship among this group.

    7. They see the bigger picture

    'The teachers are all quite good at looking at what other schools are doing, looking outside of their immediate surroundings and even outside of education,” says Ms Henshilwood. 'These are all award-winning teachers, and as you are seen to be better at your job and become more senior, you are given bigger management responsibilities. If you’re a head of year or department you start having to take on the bigger picture,' concludes.

For those of you already in the classroom, or those thinking of entering the field of teaching and education, this is a reminder of what it takes to be a success. Not only for your personal benefit but our students, for the benefit of our country.

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Teacher’s Total Years of Experience vs. How Much Time He Has Taught a Particular Grade

There are two paragraphs that really grabbed our attention on this post. As Barnett Berry puts it, lets get real about teacher experience and its effects on student achievement:

For your delight, this the most significant defense of experienced teachers I ever read (stressed section is ours):

    Policy pundits and journalists have few qualms about calling for any seasoned teaching veteran to be put out to pasture. They aren't really interested in whether the teacher is effective, ineffective or "we don't know." These pontificators, single-minded as donkeys, tend to rely on research showing that teacher experience beyond three years does not matter much for standardized test scores. However, their interpretation of the teacher-experience data sets is rather limited, perhaps reflecting more about their ideology than any substantive understanding about teaching and learning in complex school environments.

We should pay attention to 'separated' experience. It's also important we consider the "teacher gropus:"

    As we consider and design research, we need to pay attention not only to an individual teacher’s aggregate years of experience but how groups of teachers have used their combined knowledge over time to change the working culture of their team (or department or grade level), share teaching expertise among themselves and with others, and connect more closely with their students and their families.

I've learned that in America, experience is one of the most valuable assets a person can own, but it seems that when we talk about teaching that same over valued experience does not weight in!

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NECC09: How Are You Going to Participate?

Tania Sheko brought up this question on Twitter. What's the best way to follow NECC online? (@taniasheko) and we want to go over it. Not all of us can afford to go, but would still like to participate.

So without further introduction let me tell you that Jennifer Ragan-Fore has created http://www.neccning.org/ where participants are gathering to get info about the coming conference.

There is also a Virtual NECCers group created by Scott Merrick where he updates you that "Joe Corbett of the ISTE Connects team has just posted a call for ideas about what that team should share during NECC09 via streaming video! This seems the perfect group to respond. Get on over to his post and add to the discussion there!"

Although there are over a hundred of conference bloggers registered, with the use streaming video (up to the discretion of the session leaders) those who can make it still can participate. We hope in next years the organizer consider this situation.

On Wednesday we posted a Tweet over the 5 Tips to a successful NECC and it seemed to me that many liked. On this article the author suggest two terms we should use as #hashtags on Twitter: NECC and NECC09 and even explains how we should refine our search to be in the right place at the right time.

Elaine Roberts (@elainej) of Freestyle Pen is eager to be on board and also has promised to share some events using coveritlive

Do you know of other people who may be streaming the event during these days. Please help others interested in following virtually the conference

*Update*

Thanks to http://www.necc2008.org and we've find other way around to follow NECC09:

- The NECC 'UNPLUGGED' will stream all its sessions (on-site and virtual) live through Elluminate.

- Use serach option at the main site and look for sessions that are web cast.

- Apple too, will be posting podcasts of the keynotes.

- Fond of Second Life? Here are some rooms.

- ITSE Vision rocks!

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NECC09: Conference Bloggers

2¢ Worth

A common feature of some of the most successful Web 2.0 applications is their simplicity, and nothing has demonstrated this more than blogging. Blogger.com, a free blogging platform from Pyra Labs, was launched on August 23, 1999.1 Suddenly, anyone with access to a computer and the Internet, and the slightest typing skills, could publish to the world — for free. Type the title of your article into a textbox, type your article, click [Publish], and your words are available to a global readership. The simplicity is its power and its impact has been profound.

Many people at NECC will be blogging. 129 people have already registered with the NECC web site as conference bloggers. Many more will be blogging more casually, simply as a way of recording their experience and notes about what they are learning, for their own record or to share with colleagues at home.

Read complete article at David Warlick's Blog and do not forget to check out the 5 Tips to a successful NECC.

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Blogs Have 'Minimal Impact on Student Learning'

You might notice that lately I am not writing much on Education & Tech. For those concerned allow me to tell you that our time is quite short by now, this is one of the reason you are to read only quotes or reproduction of good content. Hopefully, I will be back with original content once I sort it out all personal stuff I am into.

I barely have time to read our subscriptions. However, following Google reader suggestions I've landed on Adventures in Educational Blogging . Susan Sedro, a tech coordinator for an international school in Singapore points out something we think educators should give it a second thought:

Currently, in the primary and intermediate schools, teachers were required to have a web page. In years gone by, this took a ridiculous amount of their time considering its minimal impact on student learning. A few teachers really excelled and it because a hub for the classroom. For most, it was a true burden; something that weighed them down.

Sedro says it's just about time to go from web pages to web 2.0! It surely is when still some professionals struggle to learn how to design a web page using Microsoft Front Page. No that the application i bad but we do have other platforms to set up a blog quickly. It may be a reason why some teachers still think weblogs are used by people who has no other thing to do. Wrong. Blogs are web sites that have a great impact on student learning. Of course, they need to learn first how to use it productively and how to create and share knowledge.

Wisely, my principal is not mandating that teachers have any web presence. Teachers are very busy and for some, none of those tools fit their teaching style and needs. I suspect others will end up using many different web tools with a blog for communication, a wiki for student projects, and other tools, such as Voicethreads pulled in where appropriate.

This conclusion, is in the best interest for teachers. Abandon old tools and get prepared to the jump onto the web 2.0. No matter if you use a blog or a wiki or any other social tool for this matter, what it counts is that you know the nuts and bolts of these tools and are not afraid to use it either at school or in your professional or personal life

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The iPod Octopus in the Classroom

EdTechBytes:

This post comes handy now that we all are using the new iPhone and updated the current version of our iPod Touch.

Implementing the iPod Touch in a PC Only environment without an Apple iPod Touch cart using only free apps requires us to problem solve some challenges.

The teacher synchs all iPods through a single iTunes Account.

A good teacher provisions for everything that happens in the classroom, so determining, modeling, and coordinating a synching procedure for 29 students is very important. For example, how often will the teacher synch the iPods? When will this occur? Which students go first? How will the students get their iPods back? What will the students be doing when the teacher is entangled in those wires trying to synch?

For the other possible challenges a classroom teacher is confronted with the iPod Touch in a classroom visit Patrick Ledesma's original article.

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Oxford Debate at NECC 2009



We are so close to the NECC 2009, Washington DC, June 28 -July 1, 2009. There is a topic for the Oxford debate at NECC 2009 under the theme Bricks and Mortar Schools are Detrimental to the Future of Education.

They are receipting questions for this debate. You can also summit yours, after proper registration. Click here to join in. The following are the top 7 questions so far:

1. How would losing the physical meeting place affect those coming from unstable home environments?

2. What will the end brick and mortar schools mean for the socialization of students?

3. How might a shift to online education affect the current and future workforce of teachers?

4. Is pounding down the ‘brick and mortar’ the only way to change instruction or pedagogical practices?

5. Why not expand school services and school day, incorporating education into the fabric of life?

6. How are you going to motivate those students than don't do anything on their own?

7. Is face to face interaction completely dead?

The order eventually may change because we are still one week away from the National Education Computing Conference 2009.

Update [06/26/09]

As we believed the order has changed and there is a huge amount of questions to be addressed right now:

a.(3) How might a shift to online education affect the current and future workforce of teachers?

b. (2) Rremains in the 2nd position.

c. (6) How are you going to motivate those students than don't do anything on their own?

d. How would losing the physical meeting place affect those coming from unstable home environments? (This is a new question ranked high)

e.(5) Why not expand school services and school day, incorporating education into the fabric of life.

f.(4) Is pounding down the ‘brick and mortar’ the only way to change instruction or pedagogical practices?

g. Does online education meet the needs for all considering many ages, abilities, and learning styles? (Completely new)

The other three mos prominent questions are:

- Rethinking the traditional desk, what adaptations might make the workstation relevant in the future?
- After #IranElection, Twitter, & US State Dept situation: Are social media blocks being reconsidered?
- In what ways can we make technology accessible for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status?

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CEP: NCLB Focus on Proficiency Is Shortchanging Students

CEP (Center on Education Policy) has released an analysis to answer: Is the Emphasis on “Proficiency”Shortchanging Higher- and Lower-Achieving Students? (pdf doc). The study shows good news for the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) policy.

Sean Cavanagh of Education Week is among the few who picked the study and states the following:

The 50-state analysis found that test scores for both "advanced" and "basic" students rose in nearly three-quarters of assessments studied across states and grade levels, a level of progress only slightly lower than that of students reaching proficiency.

The study sought to examine a story line put forward in recent years—namely, that schools are not focusing on the highest- or lowest-scoring students, but rather on middle achievers, said Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, which produced the report.

While the progress of high and low achievers could be stagnating in individual instances or schools, the study indicates that on average, those students are advancing...

On the other hand, Andrew Rotherham asks: 'Is it too cynical to think it would be bigger news if it went the other way?' Rotherham wrote an entry at eduwonk.com to comment why so few had taken on the news today.

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Americans Students Are Underworked

It is not a statement we can sustain because we do know that is only half true. Statistics not always supports evidently an argument. This is the case for The Economist. They subscribe to the idea that American students are underworked and compare hours class with those from Germany, Paris and Asia.

They suggest students are not paired with those in other countries because they do not attend full round year of school. But forgo to mention American students are underchallenged, it is not because they aren’t spending enough time in school!

They also suggest that these three months off in Summer act like a "mental eraser, with the average child reportedly forgetting about a month’s-worth of instruction in many subjects and almost three times that in mathematics.” Even whether these same students attend summer school or go for remedial classes, they will forget what they learn in the last 30 days!

It is heard a lot that Asian school are the super model, speaking of school success. Lets read what a Korean under the name of ME commented at Joanne Jacobs blog, about this article:

    The article conveniently neglects to mention that suicide is one of the highest causes of death for children in South Korea. It’s not unheard of for teens to kill themselves if they don’t measure up academically. I think the same is true for Japan. SK even has a curious saying re: studying for exams: 'Sleep four hours and pass, sleep five hours and fail.' Perhaps American children do need to work harder, but I’m not sure we should be looking to a country that runs its children *that* ragged is very smart.

    My parents (who seemed like unreasonable hardasses to me as a kid — they had the audacity to make me to go SUMMER SCHOOL! *gasp*) left South Korea because they did not like the education system, and they thought the amount of stress that Korean society places on its children with respect to school was too much. And my parents do indeed care about academics; even now, they keep telling me to go on to grad school. :P But at some point, the other extreme becomes just as bad. American slackdom should not be encouraged, but neither should the South Korean GET-HIGH-GRADES-DANGIT-OR-ELSE-YOU’RE-A-MISERABLE FAILURE-dom.

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How Technology is Transforming Public Schools

Interesting how Hon. George Miller and The House Education and Labor Committee will be holding a hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, June 16 to examine how technology and innovative education tools are transforming and improving education in America.

Full Committee Hearing at 10:00 AM, June 16, 2009 2175 Rayburn H.O.B Washington, DC

Witnesses include school district technology officers, industry leaders, and a middle-school science teacher. For more information, or to view streaming video of the hearing, visit the Education & Labor committee website.

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Duncan: Teachers Should Be Judged on Student Performance

It has been said that Secretary Duncan was successful with implementation of merit pay in Chicago. However, I would like to ask the Secretary what it should be done with those students who simply don't want to be at school. Teachers and parents both know, the story of rebel teens who prefer to do another stuff that go to school and in the worse case scenario, youngsters who are not able to self-control or even be disciplined by parents themselves. Will this group of students hurt teachers merit pay? Absolutely.

During this week the AP ran a story about the controversial practice of linking raises or teacher's bonuses to student achievement. Of course, with the simple experience related on top, it is normal that Duncan's proposal be opposed by many teachers' union members. We do agree that test scores alone should not decide a teacher's salary, but other parameters as research and publication of books, should be also considered, to mention just two.

States and school districts will compete later this year for a piece of a $5 billion fund to reward those that adopt innovations the Obama administration supports. Applications will be available in July, and money should be awarded starting early next year.

In several districts around the country including Chicago, where Duncan ran the public schools, merit pay systems have been created with support from teachers' unions. Duncan aims to gain the support of teachers saying "he wants it done with teachers, not to teachers." Is this the rigor he is asking for?

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Time to Kill 'No Child Left Behind'

It is too late to tweak NCLB. Seven years after it was signed into law, it is clear that the program deserves to be buried.

Diane Ravitch of Education Week wrote a great piece about the No Child Left Behind policy, and how in the long run no even time 'can repair this poorly designed law':

    In long-term trends, the achievement gap between white and minority students has hardly budged over the past decade. Although average scores are up for 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds in reading and mathematics between 2004 and 2008, the rate of improvement is actually smaller than it was in the previous period measured, from 1999 to 2004.

    It is time to ask whether NCLB should be renewed. I argue that it should not. What will President Barack Obama and his administration do with the law?

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Dumb Generation? Teens Are Just as Smart as They Ever Were

The USA Today commented on two books related to the digital age of Gen Y (ages 16-29). The first book is The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future by Mark Bauerlein.

Bauerlein an English professor at Emory University in Atlanta, claims in his book that young generation have acquired skills not being useful in the marketplace, and that they've lost track of human ways to relate to unknown people. The author recommends to parents to: "Talk with your kids. Kids can't do this by themselves."

In the other hand is Gary Small, director of the Center of Aging at the University of California- L.A. and co-author of iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind. And this is the posture we take part in. Small asserts clearly that, "teens are just as smart as they ever were."

Multitasking for example, creates a barrier between the old and new generations. The Gen Y may be good with technology but weak in face-to-face communication but still they interact with no prejudices. This young generation, familiar with MySpace and Facebook, is just as smart as any adult but in different ways. Small concludes: "In some ways (technology) is hindering, in some ways it's advancing" education, and adds, "It teaches our brain a different way of processing things."

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Impacts of a 2008-2010 Recession in Children's Well Being

The Early Ed Watch Blog:

A report released this morning, shows that children's well-being started to decline last year and is expected to dip to its lowest point in 2010, when many economists believe the full impact of the recession will be felt.

It projects that next year 21 percent of children will be in poverty and 28 percent will not have at least one full-time working parent. The median income for all families will drop to $55,700. Single-parent households led by fathers will be hardest hit.

The economic downturn will ripple across other domains as well, according to the report, causing breakdowns in community ties (driven by unemployment or housing crises) and family structure (due to an expected uptick in divorce rates). Fewer children at 3 and 4 will be enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs, and violent crime will likely increase. The number of children reporting good health is expected to dip (with obesity rates increasing due in part to a reliance on less healthy foods), but government health insurance policies should lessen the economy's ill effects.

Read more on the report by Lisa Guernsey

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Self-representation And Self-exposure Through Online Networks

During May, Kerry Mallan, a Professor in the School of Cultural and Language Studies in Education at Queensland University of Technology, Australia, published an article at the Digital Culture & Education online journal. The author has published widely in the areas of youth literature and film, and youth studies. Her research is transdisciplinary across cultural studies, literary studies, cyberstudies, and education. Now she presents Look at me! Look at me! Self-representation and self-exposure through online networks to discuss on the "complexities of self-representation and self-exposure with respect to friendships, surveillance, and privacy."

The abstract is what follows (the stressed part is ours):

    With the ever more user-friendly Web, the opportunities to use available channels of online communication complicate ways in which individuals oscillate between exhibition and inhibition, self-exposure and self-preservation, authenticity and deception. This paper draws on empirical research with high school students to examine the ways in which youth represent themselves and interact with friends and others in online networks such as MySpace. The conceptual framework for the discussion draws on the politics of visibility and notions of spatiality. These twin factors have consequences for new modes of technologically-mediated modes of representation with respect to community, friends, communication, and recognition. They also are helpful for considering what self-exposure means in terms of trust, risk, and privacy. The paper argues that there is no escaping the fact that online networks and other related activities hold both promise and peril. However, in constructing new social practices that traverse public and private spaces, technology itself is a key player in shaping how a community contributes to an individual’s identity formation and social activities.

Should the reader be more interested on this topic? Please, head over the journal for a complete results on the research with students about most prominent social networking sites (SNS) but particularly MySpace.

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Gmail Contact List Hijacked! Apologies to All

Yesterday, when I returned from work Milton was quick to check his e-mail because the cellphone wasn't along his belt for that day. At the time he tried to log in everything was normal except that Gmail asked to input the 'word verification' to confirm that was [@tonnetisalove] account.

Still at this point he was confident everything was right. Then, he started looking into old e-mail replies that shouldn't be there. He did open two messages from old friends, he didn't see in a while, both thanking him for contact them. A quick look to left side on his contact lists, revealed that they have disappeared. There was when he came to realise something was wrong. Milton keep up scanning more messages and found a Posterous post that he haven't posted it. Confirmed, his account in Gmail had been hacked.

TonNet's 300 + contacts did receive an unusual e-mail that went:

    Dear friend:
    how are you doing lately?i would like to introduce a good company who trades mainly in electronic products. such as motorcycles, laptops, mobile phones, digital cameras, LCD TV, x box, PS3, GPS, MP3 / 4, etc.
    Now the company is under sales promotion,all the products are sold nearly at its cost.
    They provide the best service and original products of
    good quality, moreover ,the price is a surprising happiness to you!
    It is really a good chance for shopping.just grasp the opportunity,Now or never!

Many friends and colleagues wrote to say that something was wrong with my email. Later in the evening, I sent an email to everyone who may have got the spam email apologising, though everyone was very nice and good humoured about it, so far.

What Milton did to prevent this to happen again. Google says it has fixed a small filter configuration glitch on their end, but many users say are still getting more than their fair share of unwanted mail as in our case. Doing a spot of research on the web, I came across @tiffehr with similar experiences. Reading her post and recommendations. First thing he did was to log out of all other sessions on Gmail (see more on Remote Logout and look out for the IP address where the last activity on his account occured. Secondly, he changed password and security question in his Google account. Third, he set permanent SSL in his Gmail account, and Fourth, he trimmed the living spam out of my contacts list.

You feel strange, unnerving to have your email account hacked. A bit personal now. I’ve used Gmail since it was launched and this is the first time a spambot has managed to crack my password. It’s all the more surprising and worrying because I always log into Gmail securely and my passwords are robust. Is this the reason Google wants to keep Gmail as Beta? Who knows. The only thing I know, is yesterday wasn't our day.

I have written our apologies to nearly everyone we know.

Until Google flaw persists we all using Gmail may be confronted with this kind of experiences. And "I’m taking the evidence that the attack is over with a big grain of salt and setting myself up to deal with a few more tiers of apologies." as Tiffehr writes.

The most I can tell is the spambot got unexpectedly lucky getting into my Google account and was not written to do much damage at all, it originated at Posterous using the classic 'Find Friends' procedure where you are asked to sign into your email account. Spambot managed to gain access to our contact list and a automatic post into this blog. If you were visiting Education & Tech yesterday, after 1 PM (Est. Time), you can certify a unrelated post was taken down.

No more spam has been received from this crappy electronics discount company who’s URL was the heart of the spam message.

For any other suggestions about what I should be watching? Please, DM me @tonnet

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Educators Can’t Keep Up With the Latest 'Technocrazes'

I don't remember where it was in the U.S. that a university required all its students to carry a iPhone or iTouch (given at the time of enrollment). Time has come where teachers and students are to be engaged using all this tools to connect and get involved in social media.

I already said quite many times, administrators and teachers are not to forbid the use of mobile gadgets in school, but allow them and tech students how to use them in education and in the classroom. Do you know why students are texting in class? Because they're bored. If we as educators do a better job of engaging them, they'd have no reason to text o violate policies of having cellphones off.

Jay Mathews of The Washington Post wrote, Texting vs. Teaching: Who Wins. The article makes a point I have often tried to make:

    Our high schools are full of secretly texting, blithely unengaged adolescents, my colleague Dan de Vise reveals today in a story on a Montgomery County proposal to let students text during lunch. Dan’s story describes the situation well. Educators can’t keep up with the latest technocrazes. They banned cellphones for awhile, then decided they were necessary for emergencies. They figured no one would use them in class, forgetting that the text function allows a flurry of conversations without the miscreants making a discernible sound.

    No one in the story asks my question: What do good teachers do about this? The best classes, in my experience, are the ones in which the teacher is holding a conversation with the entire class. Nobody is allowed to sit in a corner and dream about the prom, or text their dress choices to friends. The teacher has her eyes on the entire class, and is calling on everybody. If you are not paying attention, you are going to get caught. If the instructor is particularly good, the frequent texter decides what the class is doing is more interesting than sending another message. [Emphasis mine - MQ]

    But since such classes are relatively rare, and teaching often involves the instructor talking and students listening, it is relatively easy for texters to avoid detection, and relatively common for them to be so bored they prefer to tune out and send messages. The standard administrative response is to try a new rule--like texting only during lunch - that might or might not alleviate the problem, when the answer to almost every educational mishap or distraction is not more rules, but more good teaching.

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Teachers Afford to Work for Less Money in Exchange of Better Working Conditions

If teachers are so important, why do we treat them like widgets?

Public school teachers burn out because of poor working conditions, writes Greg Forster of the Friedman Foundation on Pajamas Media.

The study found that public school teachers have -something most teachers know or realize, lower job satisfaction, less autonomy, less influence over school policy, less ability to keep order, less support from administrators and peers, and less safety

    All this helps explain why public school teachers are less satisfied with their careers. Private school teachers are much more likely to say they will continue teaching as long as they are able (62 percent v. 44 percent), but public school teachers are much more likely to say they’ll leave teaching as soon as they are eligible for retirement (33 percent v. 12 percent).

    And there’s a reason why “burnout” has become a staple topic of discussion when it comes to public school teachers. For example, they are twice as likely as private school teachers to agree that the stress and disappointments they experience at their schools are so great that teaching there isn’t really worth it (13 percent v. 6 percent).

It's not the teachers stupid! Keep reading...

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Education Today 06/02/2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward: How the Economic Downturn Continues to Impact School Districts
Classroom technology and connectivity are highly valued teaching tools in the modern classroom. When made available to instructors, students benefit from links to the world outside. When used effectively, these tools give students familiarity with computers and technology.

Imprompu thoughts on m-learning
Few users are going to use a mobile device to work on a lengthy, formal self-study course; but they are likely to use it view videos or slide shows, listen to podcasts, read very short articles, contribute to collaborative learning activities, ask and respond to questions, and generally to engage with their network.

Retro reform idea - Merit Pay
EdSec Duncan, for example, has a big pile of money he wants to use to “incent” and reward excellence “based on student achievement” because he believes that a quality education for every student is a civil right.

Traditional Schools Turn to the Lessons and Strategies of Progressive Schools to Lower Costs
Parents, do you have a professional skill? Donate your labor/skill to the school. Use weekend time to help with campus maintenance. And, of course, students can participate in all manner of campus projects and maintenance.

Research: Smaller tasks, more often
"Brain research shows that permanent learning only takes place when research activities are assigned frequently enough that students can exercise and develop the essential skills of critical reading, writing, higher-order thinking, and presenting ideas and opinions with a purpose."

The rest of my favorite links are here.

Social Media in Improving Education

Much has been said and discussed about the potential business benefits that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networking sites offer; they’re not just social media any more, but also marketing tools for your products and services. The question now is, can these sites that were developed so people could share details and information about themselves, help in the field of education?

Every child who knows their way about the Internet is sure to have a profile on MySpace or Facebook, use Twitter to connect to friends, post content to YouTube and photos to Flickr, and use the net to chat and stay in touch with friends. Ideally, this makes social media the perfect tool to harness in the quest of improving education, because the children are already familiar with the technology.

While there are various third party applications on Facebook that are useful for students (like HeyMath which explains difficult mathematical theories and FlashCards that allow you to create flash cards that help in preparing for an exam), most students do not spend time on them and prefer to hang out on the site looking at their friends’ profiles or updating their own and taking one of the million idiotic quizzes that Facebook has to offer. There are various educational videos on YouTube and intellectual discussions going on in Twitter, but that part of the social media does not appeal to the kids.

What needs to be done to change this situation and cause a turnaround is to increase awareness of these educational tools that will help children do well in school and in the real world. Once they get over the initial reluctance to search social media for useful information and applications, they’re likely to rope in all their friends as well and get them to try using social networking sites for learning too.

With teenagers and children, it’s often a policy of “follow the leader” where most of the kids tend to ape the most popular person in class. So if they are targeted by the teachers and made to realize the efficacy of such applications and use them to improve their learning, it’s natural that the others will follow too. And social media will find a new use, one that is actually beneficial to the younger generation.

This article is written by Kat Sanders, who regularly blogs on the topic of online engineering degree at her blog The Engineering A Better World Blog. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:katsanders25@gmail.com
 
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