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Category Archives: Technology in Education

America’s National Parks offer countless opportunities for hands-on learning. That’s the message in a short video from the US Department of Education and the National Parks Service.

From field trips to distance learning, curriculum to field schools, the Park Service has a wide variety of programs and options for teachers and schools. With most American’s living within an hour’s drive of a National Park, there’s probably a historic site or an important natural area nearby that can give kids an up close and personal learning experience with history, science, math, or literature.

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A recent story from a school bus illustrates the ability of people to use digital communications as a force for incredible good or for evil.

A student used his cell phone to record a video of other students on his bus cruelly taunting and insulting the bus monitor. The video was posted to You Tube and went viral. So far a story of people using technology for bad things.

But the reaction of online communities showed some of the wonderful promise of the digital age.

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Is the American education system doing a better job than news stories would indicate? Paul Farhi thinks so and, in the Spring 2012 issue of the American Journalism Review, lays out a case that the media is “Flunking the Test” when reporting about education.

The popular narrative is our schools are failing—failing to educate children and prepare them for a hypercompetitive, global economy. Our scores in international tests are mediocre. Too many students drop out and more graduate without being prepared for college or career.

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In a recent TEDx talk called “Igniting the Hope of Knowing,” Randy Wilhelm, CEO of Knovation, talks about tapping into kids’ innate curiosity to inspire learning. It’s an obvious approach—helping kids ask the right questions to learn what they need to learn. Kids are “living in questions,” constantly asking about things they don’t understand.

The problem in schools, however, is that adults are asking the wrong questions, he says. We ask “how intelligent are you” and measure that with tests.

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“I think we’re kind of one of the first generations to have too much information as opposed to too little.”

That’s one of the most interesting remarks in a new video, “It’s Complicated: What college students say about research & writing assignments,” from Project Information Literacy (PIL). When there is a superabundance of information, some of it is useful and some not. Some of it is factual and timely and some not. Some is relevant and some a distraction.

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“Bully,” a documentary film that’s been in the news a lot lately, is providing some unintentional lessons in media literacy. The film tells the stories of four young people who have been bullied and how that has affected them and their families. Two of the kids had committed suicide. The other two are dealing with bullying in different ways. I reviewed Bully (originally called The Bully Project) here after seeing it in a film festival last year.

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Today I’ve got a tale of two social media lessons – one that went extremely well and one that didn’t. Both taught critical, but accidental, lessons about media literacy.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote recently about a class of fourth graders in Brookline, Massachusetts. The students read Dr. Seuss’s book, The Lorax, and were thrilled to hear it’s going to be made into a major Hollywood movie — but crushed to learn that the movie seemed to ignore the book’s central message about protecting nature.

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Today (January 26) is Data Privacy Day. Sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), it “promotes awareness about the many ways personal information is collected, stored, used, and shared, and education about privacy practices that will enable individuals to protect their personal information.”

As several of the speakers said during the Facebook Live event this morning, every day should be data privacy (and security) day. This is a particularly timely thought, coming the same week as Google changed its Privacy Policy and footware e-tailer Zappos suffered a major data breach.

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Today (January 18th) Wikipedia and several other popular internet sites are going dark to show their opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) now under consideration by the House of Representatives, and to its sister bill, the Protect IP Act in the Senate.

The bills are attempts to give law enforcement and copyright holders new tools to stop piracy and theft of intellectual property like movies, music, and computer programs. Opponents fear that the proposed remedies will be an undue burden on them and will fundamentally change the open culture of the Internet.

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Wednesday, February 1st will be the inaugural Digital Learning Day. Conceived by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Learning Day is the “culminating event of a year-round national awareness campaign to improve teaching and learning for all children” through the practical and effective use of digital technologies. Highlighting the many roles media and digital technology can play in improving learning comes at a particularly opportune time, given two recent negative articles about educational technology in the New York Times.

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