Seminar: Social Media and Open/Networked Learning

I am very fortunate to have been asked to teach a seminar this summer with UBC: Okanagan in Kelowna, BC, as part of their Summer Institute in Education. The seminar runs from July 27 – July 31, and I will have 15 hours in total. I am looking forward to meeting my new students, learning with them, and pushing the possibilities for immersion given such a short time-frame. My goal is to provide much more than a ‘taster’ for social media & open learning, but to help nurture a passion within these learners: to foster genuine interest and active participation through social learning, to nurture critical producers & consumers, and to convey the benefits of media sharing in education & society. I believe that the success of a workshop/seminar/course can only be measured in its effects on learners well after the official experiences are complete. I hope to someday know that this summer experience made a difference for all of those involved.

I am currently working on the course wiki (btw: quite enjoying the use of Wetpaint) and I would be happy to receive input from critical readers. Also, if anyone would like to suggest readings or media that could be shared with this group, I invite you use the tag edst499k in your Delicious links. That will automatically add your suggestions to the Readings & Resources page of the wiki.

Thanks for connecting.

Why Publish Student Work to the Web?

Here is yet another compelling reason why we should encourage posting student work to the Web. Enjoy this beautiful cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide from elementary students of the PS22 Chorus in New York City.

From the comments, “What does Stevie think of this?” (although I can’t confirm validity – confirmed here).

Just got word from Stevie Nicks tour manager that she was completely blown away by the PS22 Chorus rendition of her song “Landslide!” He said she asked him to replay 2 times afterwards, crying each time she watched! Talk about humbling!! And the kicker?? She invited the PS22 Chorus to sing the song at Madison Square Garden for the upcoming June 11th Fleetwood Mac show!! Holy cow!!!

It will be interesting to see if the RIAA feels the same way.

If you want to know more about this group and their story, I’d recommend reading “Glee Club” from The Brooklyn Rail. From that story …

It’s unusual, but it works. In a school where more than three quarters of the students are eligible for free lunch, the lyrics of the song have resonance, and the performance is haunting, emotive, and delivered with far more soul than one might expect from a bunch of fifth-graders.

Catch this while it is real. Don’t wait for the movie.

Is This Forever?

One of the videos I showed last night during my Media Literacy presentation was the recent “David After Dentist” video. The scene is of a seven year old boy who just left the Dentist’s office and was still feeling the effects of sedation. I’ve posted the video to Twitter, and while most people report it to be quite funny, others were more critical of this scene being posted to Youtube for all to see. The original video (posted below) was posted January 30, 2009, and has already been viewed over 7 million times.

Boing Boing, a highly influential group blog, posted the video on September 3. At that time, there had already been a few remixes. Since the Boing Boing mention, the number of remixes has exploded. Two of my favourite are found below:

Remix:

Chad (Vader) After Dentist

There are dozens more!

How does this relate to media literacy? During his state of sedation, the boy asks “is this forever?” While the dad reassures him that it isn’t, in the (digital) media sense, it is forever. Whether the boy likes it or not, he is now an Internet star. The scene will likely follow him into classrooms, into careers, into relationships; it will forever be part of his identity. Whether he accepts his fame as mostly positive (see Gary Brolsma) or especially negative (see Ghyslain Raza) is yet to be seen. What is certain is that the distribution of this video, a piece of David’s identity, is no longer in anyone’s full control.

Social Learning & Sharing

The learning continues in EC&I 831, and since I haven’t had much time to blog, I though I’d offer a 2-for-1 post with links to the most recent presentations for the course.

On January 27, I offered a session on the Age of Social Learning. The full Elluminate session is found here, and my slide deck is available below.

And, last night, we were very lucky to have had Dean Shareski join us as he presented “How to Be Lazy and Still Get Paid” aka “The Value of Sharing”. The recorded Elluminate session for Dean’s presentation is available here, and his slides are available below.

I really want to thank Dean for his excellent presentation last night. The participants (registered students & everyone else) have expressed gratitude for Dean’s time and wisdom on the topic.

The above presentations work well together, as do the concepts of social learning and sharing. These are ideas, when implemented, that have enormous potential for changing the shape of (online) learning. And, I’m happy to say that these are ideas that continue to shape the courses I teach and that support my ongoing belief in the power of open education.

Why I Copyfight

Cory Doctorow recently wrote the piece “Why I Copyfight” in Locus Magazine. The short essay is insightful and discusses the relationship between copyright and culture, the disparity between copyists and copyright holders, and the reasons why people (should) continue to resist the tight restrictions of current copyright law. Some of my favourite snippets include:

    - “The existence of culture is why copyright is valuable.”
    - “… the reason copyright exists is because culture creates a market for creative works.”
    - “Content isn’t king: culture is.”
    - “Culture’s imperative is to share information: culture is shared information.”

Cory Doctorow

And the most common sense passage I have read in a long time regarding copyright law and enforcement must be:

It’s entirely possible that there’s a detente to be reached between the copyists and the copyright holders: a set of rules that only try to encompass “culture” and not “industry.” But the only way to bring copyists to the table is to stop insisting that all unauthorized copying is theft and a crime and wrong. People who know that copying is simple, good, and beneficial hear that and assume that you’re either talking nonsense or that you’re talking about someone else.

It is unfortunate that current copyright law is more transfixed on control and profit instead of culture and common sense.

Read Doctorow’s full article here.

Not Free At Any Price

I have been a soft-spoken critic of the OLPC project; it is hard to critique something that gets technologies into the hands of children. Yet, I’ve had two main issues. First, I have my own XO and I have complained from the day I received it that I felt the machine to be a piece of junk. I never got the machine running well, although I know others have reported much more positive experiences. But, I thought, what should I expect for $100 $200. Second, I voiced the opinion that the project is a type of techno-colonialism, and although well-intended, it instills particular values and tools on cultures we patronizingly regard as “developing”. Yet, on this second point, there was something that made me feel a bit better when I knew that these machines would be loaded with free and open source software. At least then, we could avoid exporting even more of our corporatism. But that OLPC goal began to fall apart earlier this year when Negroponte confirmed that Windows XP was to be available on the XOs. For myself and others, this move marked the end of the OLPC as an educational project and it simply became just another laptop project.

I just came across this article by Richard Stallman in Boston Review. Stallman, once a proponent of the project, rejected it once “the project backed away from its commitment to freedom and allowed the machine to become a platform for running Windows, a non-free operating system.” For those of you who do not know Stallman’s work, this article is a good backgrounder that includes Stallman’s four essential freedoms that should be available to all users of software, as well as the distinction between “free as in beer” and “freedom of knowledge and action”. And my favourite quote from the article has to be, “Teaching children to use Windows is like teaching them to smoke tobacco—in a world where only one company sells tobacco. Like any addictive drug, it inculcates a harmful dependency.

These are important issues to think about. Learn more about free software at the Free Software Project.

Help Stop XDR-TB

This video is from XDRTB.org, an organization attempting to raise awareness about extremely drug-resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB). The video tells a powerful story. Do visit the website to find out more about how you can spread the word, and support this important cause.

From the website:

XDRTB.org is an extraordinary effort to tell the story of extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) and TB through powerful photographs taken by James Nachtwey. XDR-TB, or extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis, is a new and deadly mutation of tuberculosis. Similar in creation to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) but more extreme in its manifestation, it arises when common tuberculosis goes untreated or standard TB drugs are misused. James’ photographs represent these varying strains. Learn more about TB, MDR-TB and XDR-TB, and learn how you can take action to stop this deadly disease

College IT Index – Class of 2012

Peter Schilling (not this one), IT Director of Amherst College, has crunched the numbers and has come up with some interesting statistics regarding the 438 newly enrolled student population. Here are a few notable points:

    - Percentage of applicants that applied online = 89%.
    - Registered devices (computers, iphones, game consoles) on the University network – 370 students registered 443 devices.
    - 14 students brought desktop computers, while 93 brought iPhones/Touch devices.
    - Likelihood of a student in class having an iPhone/Touch – 1 in 2.
    - 432 of 438 students were involved in the Amherst College Facebook group, and had posted 3,225 posts by mid August.
    - Total number of students on campus this year that have landline phone service – 5.
    - Classes 2009 and 2010 are more likely to own Windows machines, while classes of 2011 and 2012 are most likely to own Macs.

Times are changing. This survey has really made me want to do something similar here on campus.

View the complete Amherst College IT index here. See also the Benoit College Mindset list.

How To Create a Pencil …

Here is a classic clip of legendary American economist Milton Friedman explaining “the magic of the price system” (free markets) as being responsible for the distribution of knowledge and skills necessary to make everyday goods such as the pencil.

Although I am not personally a fan of Friedman (see Klein’s Shock Doctrine), I appreciate this clip at a topical level as it helps to describe complicated processes before us.

5 Year Old Boy Denied School Due To Long Hair

A five-year old Native American boy has recently been denied admission to Kindergarten due to his long hair (full story). The boy’s hair is kept long and braided in accordance to his family’s spiritual beliefs. The Needville School District does not allow boys with long hair to attend their schools.

Adriel’s parents want to enroll him at Needville Elementary School. Betenbaugh sent an e-mail to the principal, asking about kindergarten and explaining Adriel’s long hair. The principal replied that the district doesn’t allow long hair on boys.

On June 9, the family met with Curtis Rhodes, the Needville superintendent. Rhodes asked what religion upheld that Adriel could not cut his hair. The family explained there wasn’t a church or doctrine they followed, but they believe that Adriel’s hair is sacred.

Arocha said that his belief is to cut his hair after life-changing events, such as mourning the death of someone he loves.

Rhodes told the family Adriel’s hair would have to go.

I tweeted this story when I saw it a few days ago, and received this reply from Tim Lauer with the School Division’s website and motto “Reaching New Heights of Excellence.”

Here are notable quotations from the site:

We expect our students to exemplify that excellence through self-discipline, character, respect for ones self, and respect for others.

To the full extent of their individual abilities, students will be provided the opportunity to develop the ability to think logically, independently, and creatively and to communicate effectively.

All students will acquire a knowledge of citizenship and economic responsibilities and an appreciation of our common American heritage.

Enough said.

Update: Well maybe not enough. Bill Fitzgerald suggests that the following information may be useful. I will email the link to this blog post to the Superintendent. I also encourage you to pass along your thoughts on the issue.

Needville Independent School District
16227 Highway 36 South
Post Office Box 412
Needville, Texas 77461
Phone: (979)-793-4308
Fax: (979) 793-3823
Superintendent: Curtis Rhodes
Assistant Superintendent: Beth Briscoe