Changing Communication Habits of Teens

I found a couple of recent short articles today relating to the change in the communication habits of teens, mostly a movement reporting the end of telephony and the move toward a preference for instant messaging (IM).

First, “Teens Turn from Phones to the Net” (Globe and Mail) features a report from Ipsos Reid which found that “home phone and instant messaging are virtually tied as teens’ favoured means of communication, at 45 per cent and 44 per cent respectively.” Additionally, there seems to be a huge decline in email use, and cellphone use has still not made much of an impact for the most part.

An experience that partially supports this idea is documented by the article “End of Email in Korea” which reports the continued growth of IM by teens, but also a growth in mobile messaging. Of course, cell phone use by teens seem much more prevalent in Korea than in North America, at least in this instance.

It’s interesting to see where this will lead. I can see the benefits of IM and SMS, but I often wonder what would happen if the telephone would have been introduced after IM had already been the communication choice of the previous generation. It’s certainly a different world.

“My Crappy Life” – When Bloggers Go Bad

I think I missed this from the main stream media … It seem that I learn everything from the blogosphere these days. Here’s a disturbing story. 16 year old Rachelle Waterman has recently been accused of enlisting the help of two twenty-four year old ex-boyfriends to have her mother murdered. What may be interesting to blog-readers is that she kept a LiveJournal blog aptly named “My Crappy Life“, and her emotionless, matter-of-fact, final blog post reads:

“Just to let everyone know, my mother was murdered”

“I won’t have computer acess (sic) until the weekend or so because the police took my computer to go through the hard drive. I thank everyone for their thoughts and e-mails, I hope to talk to you when I get my computer back.”

I’ve noticed that her latest posts have now been deleted (or password protected), perhaps by LiveJournal. I imagine there are many reasons for that. When I saw it yesterday, there were 5000 comments on her final post. It’s certainly an interesting story, and I imagine if she’s proven guilty, she could just well become the Lizzie Borden of the blogger generation. Well maybe I exaggerate, but still … it’s an interesting and often brutal world we live in, and it’s amazing how blogging can give us insight into a person’s life … even when we haven’t noticed until it was too late.

Wiki News

Well of course most of you have heard of Wikipedia, WikiTravel and WikiBooks, but now the latest project of the Wikimedia Foundation is WikiNews (currently in demo).

Wired reports, “Unlike Wikipedia, Wikinews will present original material rather than just compiling and summarizing information found elsewhere, according to the news site’s organizers. For future submissions, organizers also want to set up a system for accrediting Wikinews reporters who have actively participated in the project.”

While I think it’s a great idea, the following passage (also from Wired) makes me think. The goal of WikiNews is “to collaboratively report and summarize news on all subjects from a neutral point of view.” Hmmmm … a neutral point-of-view. Is it that easy? Can we simply put away our biases, our experiences, our perceptions and our beliefs when we report the news (even though we may be left, right or other minded)? And if so, how would the news read? I guess I am so used to bias in the news, my imagination has lost the sense of what is actually possible. Let me know if anyone has an idea on this.

The Rise of Google-Zon …

I no longer remember where I found this site, but I finally found some time to take a closer look. You’ll find an interesting flash-based video from the ‘Museum of Media History’ which basically charts real events previous to 2004 (invention of the WWW, rise of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.) and then produces mythical events to project the revolution of our modern media (fall of the New York Times, invention of Google-Zon – a merger between Google and Amazon). If you have 8 minutes, it’s worth taking a look at … and may help us ponder the future landscape of personal and mass media.

Full link:

“As each day passes, we grow less intelligent” – hmmmmmm.

Through the power of Google Alerts (keywords: blogs in education), I was fed this story today via email. It’s a column from South Carolina’s … which I find odd enough itself that I am reading an SC column from my office in Regina, Saskatchewan. The author of the column goes on to support her thesis that society (Americans specifically in her case) are becoming less and less intelligent as people read less and are turning to TV and blogs as alternatives. A part of me (my classical English literature self I gained as an undergraduate, and perhaps my “did Bush really get in TWICE?” self) agrees with her, and I think of Trevelyan’s famous quote (1942) which reads:

“Education … has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading, an easy prey to sensations and cheap appeals.”

However, in saying this … I really don’t think the author has recognized the opportunity multimedia and especially RSS/XML (and related) technologies may present us with. I am very excited at the customized multimedia approaches that are emerging such as Levine’s “Rip, Mix Learn” approach.

Does reading classical literature really make us more intelligent? Well, I agree it doesn’t hurt, but it’s print … it’s static … it’s complete … and it’s a representation from usually only one author. Yes, I will do what the author suggests and go home and read to my child … however, I’m also hoping that when she gets older, she will realize the customizability and the potential impact of blogs, podcasts, moblogging, learning objects, wikis, streaming video-on-demand, RSS ….

Presentation About Blogging in Education

I recently presented at the Instructional Design Conference in Saskatoon, SK. My presentation is available here (PowerPoint). Also, I was lucky enough to see Rob Wall again who attended and blogged my session. It was nice to have Rob at the session because he was able to answer questions from the audience I simply didn’t know or needed to be reminded of. It was great to have another educated perspective.

I wasn’t able to stay very long at the conference, but the sessions looked very interesting. Check out the Rick’s Cafe, Rob’s StigmergicWeb or the IDC Blog, to see transcripts of some of the sessions. Let me know if there are any other bloggers out there who recorded any sessions.

Call for open-source interested/active educators: Dissertation research

I am about to embark on my dissertation research data-collection. For this, I am looking for K-12 educators who are involved in the use, development of and/or advocacy of free and open-source software. If you fit this description, and would be interested in sharing your experiences, please contact me. If you don’t seem to fit this description, do you know anyone who does? Please let me know, or feel free to pass on this message to others. I could really use everyone’s help on this. Please please. :-)

Participation will be done electronically, via email and online discussion boards. Possibly other methods depending on the group that is interested. There is not a lot of commitment (a few hours I am thinking), but I would certainly love to hear of your experiences.

I am also particularly interested in activities that follow closely to the open source movement such as open-publishing (e.g., blogging) and open-content (e.g., learning object repositories). Collectively, I am just referring to this as the open movement, and hoping to find participants who are involved in these areas in the K-12 system.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to gain insight into the adoption practices of technological innovation by teachers, and in doing so, develop theory which relates to the activities and beliefs of participants in relation to adoption activities. Emphasis will be placed on ‘open’ forms of collaborative practice.

Some of my guiding questions include:
1) What are the characteristics of the open (source) movement that encourage and motivate members to participate in open (source) communities?
2) Does participation in open (source) communities encourage and/or support the development and adoption of (technological) innovation by teachers? If so, in what ways?
3) What perceived value is gained through the membership and participation in open (source) communities?
4) What educational activities and experiences result from a participant’s membership in an open (source) community?
5) Are there common values and beliefs held by members of open source communities, and if so, what are they?

Please feel free to circulate, trackback, comment, pass on, etc. Would love to hear from you!

Guide to ‘usability’ …

One of the common concerns about the multimedia projects I assess in my undergraduate offerings is the concept of usability. It seems a simple enough term to describe to my students, yet something seems to get lost in the translation. In the future, I may just point people to this useful essay titled “What is Usability?” by Donna Maurer. Here, the author does a great job of describing the concept of usability and it’s importance in design.

Confused about Linux? This may help.

For those of you genuinely interested in learning more about Linux, yet are worried about getting over the initial hump, you may find this article useful.

Here, Michael C. Barnes of gives a great overview of several Linux distributions in his search for the best Linux desktop. It’s a simple introduction, and he points to software that complete the Linux experience (Open Office, multimedia programs, VOIP, video-conferencing, etc.). In the article, he recommends a Debian-based Linux distribution, and explains how to make this experience that much better. Worth a read.