Here's a suggestion for high school teachers. Postpone a lesson you had planned for next week and use the time to explore the cacophonous infosphere spawned by the apprehension of the suspects in the Boston bombings. If that media circus tells us anything, it's that we need a lesson in digital hygiene and responsible use.
It's also a good chance for students to hone their close reading skills. The events should be fresh in everyone's mind. Ask students to reflect back on network news and social media coverage of the manhunt using these three critical thinking prompts:
- What did it say?
- How did it say it?
- What's it mean to me?
To kick off the discussion, you might ask students to read James Gleick's powerful New York Magazine piece “Total Noise,” Only Louder. He observes:
The Boston bombings, shootings, car chase, and manhunt found the ecosystem of information in a strange and unstable state: Twitter on the rise, cable TV in disarray, Internet vigilantes bleeding into the FBI’s staggeringly complex (and triumphant) crash program of forensic video analysis. If there ever was a dividing line between cyberspace and what we used to call the “real world,” it vanished last week. … We need to get smarter about the vectors of time and information flow. … It starts to feel as though we’re Pavlov’s dogs—subjects in a vast experiment in operant conditioning. The craving for information leads to behaviors that are alternately rewarded and punished. If instantaneity is what we want, television cannot compete with cyberspace. Nor does the hive mind wait for officialdom. While the FBI watched and tagged and coded thousands of images from surveillance cameras and cell phones, users on Reddit and 4chan went to work, too, marking up photos with yellow arrows and red circles: “1: ALONE 2: BROWN 3: Black backpack 4: Not watching.” Virtually everything these sleuths discovered was wrong. Their best customer was the New York Post, which fronted a giant photo of two “Bag Men”—who, of course, turned out to be a high-school kid and his friend, guilty of nothing but brown skin. If the watchword Wednesday was crowd-source, by Thursday it was witchhunt. Total Noise.
If anyone asks you why you're deviating from your lesson plans, tell them you're getting a head start on Common Core Standards such as:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
Image source / FBI
This morning, Twitter broke the story of the events in Watertown MA. Following the hashtags #Watertown and #MITShooting, I selected a few of the early tweets for a Storify. Twitter scooped the major news organizations, but are we ready to curate our own news?
A step-by-step description of how a team of teachers used a G+ Hangout to manage their PLC sessions. It includes details about managing the Hangout, using it to analyze student work, and building meaningful collegial relationships. It’s a very helpful post for anyone looking for practical information on using G+ Hangouts.
Classrooms were a wonderful technological invention. They enabled learning to scale so that education was not only the domain of society’s elites. Classrooms made it (economically) possible to educate all citizens. And it is a model that worked quite well.
(Un)fortunately things change. Technological advancement, coupled with rapid growth of information, global connectedness, and new opportunities for people to self-organized without a mediating organization, reveals the fatal flaw of classrooms: slow-developing knowledge can be captured and rendered as curriculum, then be taught, and then be assessed. Things breakdown when knowledge growth is explosive. Rapidly developing knowledge and context requires equally adaptive knowledge institutions. Today’s educational institutions serve a context that no longer exists and its (the institution’s) legacy is restricting innovation.
The folks behind TED talks have just launched TED-Ed to serve the mission “of capturing and amplifying the voice of the world’s greatest teachers.” TED-ED has put out a call to teachers everywhere to submit lesson ideas for inclusion in the new YouTube Channel – TED-Ed: Lessons worth sharing. Right now there’s a gifted educator delivered a great lesson to their class. TED-Ed is looking for your help to find that educator, team them with animators, and amplify that lesson for all to see. Nominate an educator | Share a lesson | Nominate an animator.
The 2011 Horizon report identified six new technologies that will affect teaching and learning in the K-12 education community over the next five years. Head to the vendor area of an educational conference and you’ll see a “top-down” vision of innovation in schools – expensive stuff that delivers information – lots of flashy equipment like display systems, interactive whiteboards, etc. They might give the illusion of modern, but in fact they’re just a glitzy versions of the old standby – teaching as telling. In fact, the best innovation in instructional practice is coming from the “bottom up” – from teachers who find effective ways to harness the creative energy of their students. These teachers don’t simply deliver information to kids, they craft lessons where students can research, collaborate, and reflect on what they’re learning. They harness a flood of new platforms that enable students “see” information in new ways and support a more self-directed style of learning.
A how to for growing an audience for your thinking and my response to the question “If you could use only one method to market yourself online, what would do?”
It begins with freely sharing quality content. I use the Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 license. Use it, share it, remix it. Just tell people where you got it, and don’t try and sell it. Remember, as the price of commodity drops, consumption increases. I include tips for using URL shorteners, hashtags and blog comments to drive traffic back to your site.
The 3rd edcampPDX is being held Feb 4, 2012 at Catlin Gabel School in Portland Oregon. This Storify serves as a permanent archive of the event’s social media backchannel. I’m following the hashtag #edcampPDX.
An edcamp is a unconference-style day of professional development organized and given by the local participants. It’s free, democratic, participant-driven professional development. Great teachers, interesting conversations and an excellent chance to network.
An edcamp is a unconference-style day of professional development organized and given by the local participants. The 2nd edcampPDX was held 11/11/11 at La Salle Catholic College Preparatory in Portland Oregon. This Storify serves as a permanent archive of the event’s social media backchannel. I’m following the hashtag #edcampPDX.
edcampPDX is free, democratic, participant-driven professional development. It’s an unconference built on collaboration and dialogue, not keynotes. I’m at the edcamp and documenting the event via the hashtag #edcampPDX. This Storify will remain as an artifact long after the tweetstream moves on.