Education & Tech

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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 L. Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is an instructor with UoPeople, is a 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 blogging and I'd written articles about education and technology almost every day since 2003. In the gazillion of notes, Education & Tech provides you with education news, tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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A First Definition of Cyberbullying Applied to Teachers

I read lots of information on the fly, but the article written by Doug Johnson caught my eye for the appealing context with which he discusses the cyberbullying against teachers.

Doug Johnson is the publisher of The Boo Skunk Blog. He posted a very controversial question: Can students cyberbully teachers?

To understand better the topic we want to rephrase Doug's question: At what point do the action of students become bullying?

As you might be thinking it has not a quick or easy answer. All the discussion taken on the Boo Skunk Blog turns to Rate-My-Teacher website. The same as when we are asked about the education objectives, answers will be so diverse as many teachers as we ask. One thing is true, cyberbullying is a plague, all, parents to teachers should be vigilant.

And here the discussion goes over power. The big guy picking on the little guy, as Johnson puts it. The disrespect many students are being pray of, not by teachers but stuff and in many cases administrators. Is a Vice Principal entitled to shout, give out unfair detentions or even suspend a student without a fair hearing of all the students involved? That's abusing power.

In many cases these are the reasons the poor kid in a very poorly designed strategy goes online to libel and cry for help. In other words, is a retaliation to what they are living in their classroom or school. Now, don't get me wrong, there are those little devils for whom school is a prison where they have to fight their way out. They require another kind of treatment we are not going to argue here.

There is not a proper definition to a retaliation against teachers under bullying. The cyberbullying can be easily interpreted as harassment, aggression, electronic aggression or most typically as lack of respect. You'd pick one.

Dr. Micheal Carr-Greg from Melbourne, and cited by the source of this post, as much as Nancy Willard of The Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use provide advice as how teachers got so frustrated for this kind of experiences. Willard has promised to release a narrated report on cyberbullying for educators.

Before this goes out of hand, try your best to have students to perform successfully and to be happy at school. This is the best way to avoid the distress to be impersonated by someone, that in some cases don't even is your student but someone else looking to make your life so miserable.

Be yourself and feel confident you will never be in this circumstances. If so, look for help among professionals on safety and share the incident with authorities and all your colleagues as much as you can. Good luck.

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Edmodo Hits Badly an Australian Classroom

I don't pretend to criticize neither the teacher nor the application. What I try to, is to show experiences from which everyone else may benefit.

Simon Job of Maths Class, lived first hand, what happens when we give a tool to students for whom it is merely a way of communication.

What we really love from Job's post, is the blame he sets on blocking social intercommunication for misbehaving of his students while using Edmodo. He also recommends some ways Edmodo could be improved to work in schools.

    Ways that Edmodo could be improved:

  • An ability to "time-out" a student who is not using the site appropriately. I changed one student’s password as she was not using the site appropriately, she just signed up with another username.

  • Set "operating hours" for your group. For example, a button for teachers to turn the discussion feature on/off – allows me to monitor my class, rather than wondering what they are talking about whilst they’re in English and I’m teaching another class. I see this as a way to slowly introduce social networking at school.

  • Provide far better user-management for teachers.

  • Some other thoughts:

  • A step too fast? Generally, the students at my school have poor social skills. We’ve identified this in the past and been actively working to improve the way they relate, respond and talk to staff and students. Maybe I took this on too early.

  • In some ways, I think this is a consequence of the blocking of everything social approach that the Department has taken. We have not really had an opportunity in the past to deal with these issues, because students have not had access to social networking online.

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Twitter Is Broad-Casty, Facebook Is More Conversational

We already had mentioned Danah Boyd in other posts. She is a a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

In this opportunity, Danah begins a conversation about practices and interface of two of the most popular social media networks. She says that, "There are two critical structural differences between Facebook and Twitter that are essential to understand before discussing the practices: 1) social graph directionality; 2) conversational mechanisms."

And concludes:

In short, the difference between the two has to do with the brokering of status. With Facebook, the dominant norm is about people at a similar level of status interacting. On Twitter, there's all sorts of complicated ways in which status is brokered. People are following others that they respect or worship and there's a kind of fandom at all levels. This is what Terri Senft has long called "micro-celebrity." Alice Marwick has been extending Terri's ideas to think about how audience is brokered on Twitter (paper coming soon). But I think that they're really critical. What makes Twitter work differently than Facebook has to do with the ways in which people can navigate status and power, follow people who don't follow them, at-reply strangers and begin conversations that are fundamentally about two individuals owning their outreach as part of who they are. It's not about entering another's more private sphere (e.g., their Facebook profile). It's about speaking in public with a targeted audience explicitly stated.

We use both services but in a very different manner. As the researcher discuss, Twitter is for us too, a broadcasting model of communication. And that is why many people sits long hours in front of their computer screens, thinking they have an audience to share thoughts and information.

If you accept that a teacher is a broadcaster in some way then, I bet you cannot use Twitter as a teacher replacement, do you?

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Educate About Malwares

Surely, you will have been wondering what happened to Education & Tech. Nothing. We decided to stop for a week to reflect on our daily practice and our uses of the internet.

That coincided with two interesting facts: one was our Birthday and the other the infection of our computer.

We had a global celebration and from here we thank all our readers and friends who are either on Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed or Hi5.

The other, was a headache: the Security Tool (ST - for I don't want to contribute to its publicity). We sometimes share our laptop with our son, 13, and this week we get infected by the malicious ST. It is so complicated that it even takes over your system and does not allows you to download any software/anti-malware to clean it.

That is when after several years of being a user of Zone Alarm, this time we were disappointed. Instead of updating its data base, they only referred me to groups where we could help.

We tried the so recommended MalwareBytes and SpywareDoctor, but both failed to install. We got the message: "Create process failed; code 2/ System cannot find the file specified." So, after trying one last time with Zone Alarm, without success, we decided to uninstall it and go for McAfee. That was when, and after doing a deep scan, we regain control of the system.

We do not use Symantec products for the amount of memory they use and the backlogs that is left after uninstalling them. But even they were attentive to update their anti-virus and post recommendations as to how to clean ST.

In several places, it was recommended to manually remove the malware, which wasn't automatically downloaded into your computer, it was the user with his own hands that did so. This the reason why the anti-virus does not block it. To avoid this tedious and controversial process we went to download HijackThis of TrendMicro and fixed the problem.

Next time, educate about consequences of not being careful of what you hit on the keyboard, not only to your students but your family members, as well.

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There Is Not Research on the Impact of Twitter on Education

If we still want to submit the social sciences to be probed by scientific science, then we will never accept Twitter as a good tool in the classroom. @kmanzo of Education Week posts an interesting article about Twitter in the classroom.

Kathleen Kennedy Manzo (@kmanzo) quotes Daniel T. Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville. He is charged to be said: Twitter "It’s not a research-based tool,... The most important thing to remember is that we have no idea what impact these tools have on learning, and it will take a decade to answer that question."

We do agree with that. Maybe not a decade, but if we are to expect scientific confirmation, there is nothing in technology than can be successful, not to mention the so called innovation in the modern economy.

It is true that Twitter did not catch fire as much as Facebook and MySpace for social networking but as Kathleen declares, "young adults are the fastest-growing group of users." In other words, we the teachers have the immense responsibility to prepare these young adults how to skim information efficiently and quickly.

Pamela B. Rutledge, the director of the Media Psychology Research Center at Fielding Graduate University, an online degree program is another of the invitees to the discussion. Students "Are going to need to have highly developed critical-thinking skills, be able to digest large amounts of information, and determine what’s important and what’s not." These among other things people using Twitter needs to master.

The article recommended to be read in its entirety closes quoting again Mr. Willingham when he questions the real use and power of tools like Twitter: "We can’t all just be contributing to wikis and tweeting each other. Somebody’s got to create something worth tweeting."

There is not research but as more and more teachers start using Twitter in a variety of classroom projects, it seems the practice will be the only empirical foundation to let children get away with their multitasking and huge capacity to use social media tools like Twitter.

Should research kill Twitter in our school rooms? I don't think so.

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Learning From Participation at #lrnchat And #edchat Sessions

Somewhere in the internet I was reading how comments on blogs dropped considerably. The reason, microblogging and social tools like Twitter are up front, contributing to make people to share their thoughts, links and comments there, rather than on blogs.

Weekly, there are two online events grouping educators (or tweeteducators) on Twitter. It is the #edchat and #lrnchat sessions. If you still don't know what is all about, just type in those words on the Twitter search box and the results will pop up to give a widely idea of the topic.

We are taking this opportunity to publicly thank Paula White. She posted a wonderful post about how we contribute to the edu-community on Twitter. The point is to find the balance between posting about what matters to educators and diggers community, and to share personal experiences, which for many, are not so valuable and at best should be avoided.

On the other hand, Mike Petersell who is blogging for about two months by now, recounts how people gathering on Twitter can learn from each other socially in different ways when participating on #lrnchat sessions. But, he concludes: "So I think I'm beginning to get the idea of social learning. I'm not ready to include it in my instructional strategies at work yet, but I'm hopeful that I will be able to at some point." Go Mike.

Are you forgetting about comments on blogs and in place, are you heading to social networks?

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Will Kindle Solve All Our Reading Problems?

As days pass by, more and more people is getting used to small appliances and the same sort of technological devices. We are hunting for the right cell phone, the tiniest digital camera, the faster netbook and of course, the device that solve all our academic problems, a ereader.

The iPhone/iPod has made its way into families and school, but do the ereaders can compare to the Apple devices? That is a big question that still Amazon has to answer. They claim to have the best ereader and to be working to get it running on wifi. However, Kindle seems to lack three things so valuable in education:
adaptability, portability and connectivity.

Even though Amazon’s efforts are focused on college students, for schools we need a thin light device that could handle annotations, web links, carry unlimited internet access, or as Tim Stahmer puts it: "Devices that make it seamless to work with more than text – audio, video, interactive graphics, access to learning communities – anything that can be used to understand, clarify, revise and build on the knowledge available."

The State of the American Education 'Is on the Chopping Block'

I, as many, enjoyed the article appeared on the New York Times, authored by well known Paul Krugman. The conversation about the shortfall of American education is endless around the education community, but when it comes from the voice of an economist, we need to double our attention.

For who didn't have the opportunity to read The Uneducated American, let me save your time and address the main points we found in Krugman's discourse:

Education still does not touch soil. He writes: "Until now, the results of educational neglect have been gradual — a slow-motion erosion of America’s relative position. But things are about to get much worse, as the economic crisis — its effects exacerbated by the penny-wise, pound-foolish behavior that passes for fiscal responsibility in Washington — deals a severe blow to education across the board."

Very slightly, but in a convincing manner he says, government gave out tons of money thorough the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, yes, but it went to the millionaires in Walt Street, to save their investments under the promise of regulation, which until today is not clearly established. Education can wait and each state are to solve their own budget deficits.

What they forget is that, "In America, with its weak social safety net and limited student aid, students are far more likely than their counterparts in, say, France to hold part-time jobs while still attending classes. Not surprisingly, given the financial pressures, young Americans are also less likely to stay in school and more likely to become full-time workers instead," says the laureate with the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics during 2008.

He is good on keeping with statistics and remind us all that education sector is also suffering from the high rate of American unemployment. His assertion that 143, 000 jobs were lost in this sector during the last five months, is something education officials and educators mus be vigilant. That is why, the economist suggests: "Congress needs to undo the sins of February," which lead education to lost a great deal of aid support, and approve another big round of aid to state governments in a denomination not even close to the stimulus bill.

Otherwise, more and more young Americans will miss the chance of a superior education and the education shortfall goes all the way down to the educational pyramid.

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The Challenge of Using 'Merit Pay' to Reward Teachers

I have been reading Barnett Berry latest article. He is the President and CEO of the Center for Teaching Quality and his opinion about merit pay is worth sharing with you folks. Berry refers to Whitmire & Rotherham Teacher Unions commentary on The WSJ:

    ...The systems being proposed by such analysts as Whitmire and Rotherham are built on shaky technical ground: pay systems that do not reward the best teachers (e.g., see Houston’s ASPIRE program), or rely on unstable student test scores (e.g., see Tim Sass’ analysis of the instability of value-added measures in Florida), or favor teachers who teach in easy-to-teach in schools (see Stein’s review of the Hillsborough County, Florida program).

    Do not get me wrong: Unions need to do a lot more to promote performance pay systems that students deserve — and we (and our Teacher Leaders Network ) have been pushing them to do so. Too many union leaders have been recalcitrant or asleep at the wheel. They should be leading teacher pay reforms — and not just saying no to proposals for change. But I wonder why analysts, such as Whitmire and Rotherham, do not report on why unions often object to merit pay — as opposed to uniformly castigating them as purveyors of the status quo. Without even-handed reporting and discourse, it is difficult to advance the conversation and implement much-needed reforms in public education. Perhaps journalists and policy analysts might turn to teacher leaders themselves in advancing the dialogue on the future of the teaching profession.

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A Mandatory Course on the 'Internet for Dummies'

PC World:

Techie W. W. has a long wish list of "driving instructions" he wishes every user would master. Here's a partial list:

    How to get to the command line
    How to get to the command line and type ipconfig /all
    How to start Task Manager and what it can tell them
    How to browse a hard drive with Explorer and the command line
    How to compress a file without WinZip
    How to manually run Windows update from My Computer
    How to Add Remove programs
    The bandwidth ramifications of streaming videos/stock quotes/music/etc
    Why and when not to close the error message dialog before calling for assistance.

Continue reading Robert X. Cringely's post.

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How Teachers Are Isolated to Find Solutions to Adolescent Literacy Problems

Educators at any level are quite familiar with reading problems, corrective reading and educational research on this field. A few days now, we posted on Twitter a post asking why cursive writing is not taught in schools anymore. Responses were from, "probably because we don't read cursive books any more" to "I never have used it."

Now remember that these answers came from professionals. How hard it will be to deal with adolescents? We can create improvement programs, develop learning strategies, but as far as people don't see the benefits to learn cursive and excel on reading programs, teachers on lower level feel like left behind.

To support what we are saying, allow me to paraphrase what PhD Don Deshler knows about this matter so far. Dr. Deshler is a member of the National Institute for Literacy's Advisory Board (NIFL), and education professor at University of Kansas. He is also the co-author to Informed Choices for Struggling Adolescent Readers: A Research-Based Guide to Instructional Programs and Practices

Education & Tech 10/02/2009

Who Is America's Next Top Model Education Blogger?

You can nominate someone else's work just make sure to indicate clearly that you're not submitting it as your own.

The winner gets the chance to write a weekly column on this site . Alexander Russo will give you a byline and pay you $100 per column!

The Renaissance: Leonardo daVinci & the Creative Mind by Bulent Atalay

I had called my book “Math and the Mona Lisa: The Art and Science of Leonardo da Vinci” originally “The Two Leonardos” but publishers didn’t think it would sell with that title...

Social network statistics

The internet knows us at an aggregate level!

What is good eLearning?

There are many things that work together when we are creating programs to produce something that learners will actually want to take part in. These three things all together are so important: content, resources & people

The rest of my favorite links are here.
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