This winter, teenagers at a Chicago high school used their Xanga websites to post obscene and threatening comments about a teacher, in one case suggesting her neck be “slit like a … chicken.”
I’ve also read an increasing number of stories connecting murders and assaults to predators finding their victims via MySpace. All of them add that MySpace “it’s not our fault” statement in there somewhere. If there is any good news in all of this it is that the conversation seems to be turning more to education and planning rather than blocking. We’re in the early planning stages of putting together an educational session for parents at our school, and that’s probably something every high school should be doing these days.
Results from an information systems undergraduate course with 31 students indicate that weblog performance is a significant predictor for learning outcome, while traditional coursework is not. Weblogs appear to have highest predictive power for high and low performing students, but much less predictive value for medium performers. Results also suggest that there is a learning effect for weblog authoring.
There’s more to write about here, in terms of using those tools for research and also what the research says. I’d still love to track down some K-12 writing research…may just have to do it myself…
Essentially, the Web is shifting from an international library of interlinked pages to an information ecosystem, where data circulate like nutrients in a rain forest.
I’ve been doing some more thinking and reading about connective writing and reading and there is much in this metaphor to chew on. It amazes me at times, when I take the time to really think about it and study it, the ways in which these connections work. Next time you get in the hypertext flow, try to step outside of it and really tune into what your brain is doing. (Talk about multitasking…) It’s so different from linear reading, the linear reading we teach our students to do. Do we teach them how to read hypertext at all? I want my own kids to start understanding the difference, even now when they are six and eight. That’s why I really want them to start blogging about what they read, not just about what they do.
However, I’m quickly tiring of the notion that the blogosphere, in it’s current state, will be a serious venue for educational change on a systemic scale. The common denominator of the blogosphere is conversation, an important first step in solving many of the ills that affect education. But for the most part, that’s all it is-a first step. Take some time to look at the posts-it’s nice to see all the lists about what education should be and what our schools should be and what our students need and what our teachers should do. It’s nice to see what you are thinking about today. It’s conversation. It’s an opportunity to have your say. Good. But at some point you have to do something with it. The conversation just doesn’t seem to go anywhere or at least in most cases, if it does result in some change in some educational entity, we don’t know about it.
Tom Hoffman’s comment is equally important:
There is a big difference between people who are primarily, fundamentally interested in education reform, have been their entire careers and lives, and see technology as simply one facet in an endless see-saw struggle; and those people who have had or at least represent themselves as having had a recent revelation about education due to their exposure to contemporary technology. The recently transformed are excited about having what is to them a new conversation via blogs, but also seem happy to remain ignorant of the previous 100 years of work or so on the subject. Or they simply find it rhetorically convenient to present the ideas as novel to their clients. I dunno. Regardless, the conversation about school reform isn’t going to get too far until it includes more people who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to school reform and have a substantial background of experience in the matter.
No doubt, I’m in the “revelation” group. And I totally acknowledge my relative “ignorance” of education reform (though I’m doing something about it.) No doubt, the education system is very, very good at beating down even the most fervent reform movements. And maybe this one will be no different. But I wonder if there isn’t a subversion taking place here that IS different, and I plan to be doing a lot more writing on that topic in the near future.