Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Beyond Internet and the Law; Consider Good Digital Citizenship

Friday, January 15th, 2010

We are all amazed by the power of those technologies that connect us together. The cell phone, the wirelessly connected laptop and the smart phone enable us to be in almost constant contact with similarly equipped people. We can send text, audio and pictures including movies to each other in an instant. And there lies the problem. On the positive side, each of these tools enables us to send and receive information as a matter of course. On the negative side, each of these tools enables us to send and receive information as a matter of course. Teenagers are using email and their cell phones to send sexually inappropriate pictures, messages and movies of themselves and others to each other causing serious legal and ethical problems for themselves and the ones they are taking pictures of as well as those to whom they are sending the pictures.

In a report called Sex and Tech sponsored by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy 20% of teens over all had sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves. In the same report 33% of young adults have done the same. The same report indicated that many of these people are sending the material even though they know that doing so can have serious consequences.

The impulsivity of adolescents and the need to belong often contributes to both bullying and sending sexually inappropriate messages and pictures. Both are complex causing states to review free speech, search and seizure issues, and child pornography laws. Is a 13 year old who takes a picture of him or herself nude and sends the picture to their 14-year-old friend guilty of distributing child pornography? Is the 14-year-old friend who received it also guilty? Should they be listed as sexual predators?

Does a student, using his or her own computer at home have the right to post on their blog belittling and offensive remarks about a fellow student, a teacher in the school or the principal? Using the school’s property is obvious, using his or her personal equipment away from school, is not.

Does a principal, collecting cell phones from students because they violated the schools cell phone policy have the right to look at or listen to the contents of the cell phones? As schools develop and enforce policy the issue of due process (the 14th Amendment) comes into question.

This is where one has to understand that an attorney is not writing this. The reader should review a report to the New York State School Board’s Association. “Sexting” – Code of Conduct Violation or More? Student use of Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices: The Emerging Legal and Technological Issues.

The report seemed to be saying the following:

1. Taking, possessing and transmitting pictures of a sexual nature of children under the age of consent is illegal and as a result should be reflected in school district policy.
2. While Schools have a right to set up policies that include taking cell phones from students, they do not have a right to search the phones (listen to voice mail, read text messages or view pictures) without probable cause. Just having the cell phones because there is a policy against them is not probable cause.
3. Students’ speech about, even it is generated away from the school using their own technology, can be deemed inappropriate and addressed by the schools code of conduct rules if it is threatening or disrupts the discipline of the school.
4. “The Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment assures, procedurally, notice and the opportunity to be heard before educational property rights may be suspended and, substantively, that only laws (student code of conduct infractions) which are rational will be enforceable.”

Item number one, the one about taking pictures of young children does not help the students who have impulsively taken inappropriate pictures of themselves and others and distributed them to their friends. Vermont, Ohio and Utah are a couple of the states that appear to be trying to write legislation that differentiates true child pornography from the adolescent that is impulsive or just wants to belong. Ellen Goodman writing in the truthdig blog (–_and_common_sense/) describes the rationale for making the difference in a post called Sexting – and Common Sense. There is a difference and it actually goes beyond the Sexting. Ellen points to the sexism in sexting.

Let’s not forget the sexism in the sexting. It’s mostly girls’ pictures that get passed around. It’s often boyfriends—or ex-boyfriends—who hold the trump photo. It’s girls who pay a social price in humiliation. It’s girls who get tagged in the mean-girl lingo as “sluts.”

Technologies are always going to change but the need for young people to be accepted and educators to protect the people who are under their charge will stay the same. The question is, as it always has been, what do we want our citizens to consider the norm? Understanding what it means to be a good “Digital Citizenship” should be our goal. Adolescence is a time of sexual exploration and development and it is irresponsible to not engage adolescents and their parents in a dialog on what is appropriate and respectful. Only changing policy is short sited. Digital Citizenship in Schools by Mike Ribble and Gerald Bailey reviews nine elements of Digital Citizenship:

1. Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure.

2. Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information.

3. Digital Literacy: process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology.

4. Digital Access: full electronic participation in society.

5. Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods.

6. Digital Law: electronic responsibility for actions and deeds

7. Digital Rights & Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world.

8. Digital Health & Wellness: physical and psychological well being in a digital technology world.

9. Digital Security (self-protection): electronic precautions to guarantee safety.

The conversation about Digital Citizenship needs to include parents. Raising a Digital Child, also by Mike Ribble contains much of the same information as Digital Citizenship in Schools but is meant to guide the parent as they work with their children through the issues of being responsible users of very powerful technologies.

In October 2008 the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act was passed requiring that schools receiving educational technology funds teach students Internet safety. The Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is currently waiting to hear from the Federal Communications Commission and that will not happen until after a process of rulemaking, which will include hearings. Hopefully any rules will go beyond “Internet Safety” and include Digital Citizenship, which includes elements 6 and 7:

• Digital Law: electronic responsibility for actions and deeds

• Digital Rights & Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world.

Back to School 2009-2010 – U.S. Census Data

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

The U.S. Census Bureau has provided a “back to school” fact sheet on their website. Some of the data included are: enrollment, languages, personnel, graduation and the cost of college.

Fair Use Video on Creating Video!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Joyce Valenza reports in her Never Ending Search blog that the Code of Fair Use Project at Stanford University has created a video, Remix Culture: Fair Use is Your Friend,  on producing online video and how fair use applies.

The Big Switch: What’s next and what could/should we do right now?

Friday, January 9th, 2009

As much as education is rooted in and tied to the past, it’s really all about the future:  What’s next?  What will the next generations need to know?  How will they know it?  And what will “knowing” mean?

Nicholas Carr’s book, The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, is a valuable read for educators using and making decisions about technology, as well as for technical people working in education.  One way to read it, is as one might read a novel—allow yourself to be immersed in the world of the book—then step back at the end and consider the ideas of the book in relation to the world in which you exist at this moment. (BTW, it’s available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle.)

MAME Conference Presentation Materials

Monday, November 17th, 2008

If you would like to peruse some of the MAME Annual Conference presenter materials please go to the MAME conference wiki and scroll down to Presentation Materials/Handouts. Next year we will be in beautiful Traverse City, October 21-23.

Internet Information – The Ignored Internet Safety Issue

Monday, September 8th, 2008

The biggest concern about Internet Safety should be the ability to figure out was is truthful and good information and what is not. While we have spent bazillians of dollars on filtering and training and how to adequately gnash our teeth over Internet predators so that less than 1 percent of our students will not meet someone in person, we have not done nearly as much as we should getting students to be able to discern good information from bad. Here is a short quiz:

• Do you have students cite all resources?

• Do you have students demonstrate what makes the article they are citing a reliable source?

• Do you have students discriminate between .com, .org, .edu or one of the many student-produced websites articles found at .k12 sites?

• Do you have students demonstrate or produce evidence of an author’s history of knowledge on this topic?

• Do you have rules about the number of Internet sites that a student can use or do the rules focus on the quality of the sites?

The answers to the top questions should be:

• Yes, students are asked to cite sources correctly and use a variety of formats.

• Yes, students are often asked to show the history of a website, what affiliations the website has, e.g. is it an .edu, .com, or .org site. Students understand the differences of the various Internet extensions and how the extensions can impact the content of the site.

• Yes, students are often asked to do Internet search on the authors they cite in their papers so that they can support choosing the author as a valid resource.

• Students are not limited on the number of Internet sources they use, but they must provide rationale for why they are citing the pages as good valid resources.

This becomes an Internet safety issue because on the Internet I can find information on:

• Brain Surgery (and other types of surgery)
• Barack Obama
• John McCain
• Getting a Loan
• Healing a wound
• Losing weight

Try searching some of these topics , look at the results and consider what skills students need to figure out what is true and what is not, what is correct and what is not, what is fact and what is not, and what is safe and what is not.

But, what do I know. A much better set of tools for guiding thinking on this topic is found at the University of California at:

More thoughts on politics and technology

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Forty-six percent of all Americans have used the Internet as well as e-mail and cell phones this year to get campaign news, to share their views, and mobilize others….…35 percent of Americans say they have watched online political videos, according to a new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Thirty-nine percent of online Americans have used the Internet to dig deeper, to access unfiltered campaign materials, which include video of candidate debates, speeches and announcements, as well as position papers and speech transcripts.

And not surprisingly, 33 percent of younger voters have gotten political news and information from social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace.

PBS Online News Hour, 6/16/08

The current election is presenting example after example of the high stakes role of digital technologies and digital literacy. Reflection tends to focus on the impact of digital communication on the election at hand, but it seems likely that there may be long-term implications as well. In Common Sense, to explain the origin of representative government, Thomas Paine laid out a scenario of a growing colony and noted:

But as the colony increases, the public concerns will increase likewise, and the distance at which the members may be separated, will render it too inconvenient for all of them to meet on every occasion as at first, when their number was small, their habitations near, and the public concerns few and trifling. This will point out the convenience of their consenting to leave the legislative part to be managed by a select number chosen from the whole body, who are supposed to have the same concerns at stake which those who appointed them, and who will act in the same manner as the whole body would act, were they present.

As our communication technologies change the relevance of time and space, and change the participation in government, how might that change government? Our numbers are far greater than those of Thomas Paine’s colony, yet “meeting” anyone anywhere any time is not inconvenient at all, and our public concerns are numerous and globally consequential. Many feel a compelling need to join the fray, and the body politic grows…

Twittering around with Politics – watch the Debate

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

In its simplest form Twitter is a tool that enables its users to tell the world what they are doing right now; and some people do that. It’s as simple as saying “Right now I am writing a Blog article on Twittering.” Twittering is also called micro-blogging because when one Twitters they are limited to 140 characters per “tweet”, this forces one to keep things short and to the point. For example David Warlick often does something like :

“Who are the great “social filters” for the edublogosphere?” then follows it with a link to something that supports the comment.

David has gone beyond saying just what he is doing, he is giving a snippet of something to think about. Which takes me to one of the stronger parts of Twittering, “Following” a person’s “tweets”. A person Twittering can choose to follow someone. Which means if I choose to, I can follow, and do follow, David Warlick’s Twittering, which means that I can keep track of his posts and his quick assessment of things. I can also see who he is following. I also follow Laura Cummings Twitter and I can go to her Twitters and see who she is Twittering and Follow them. It is a lot like “and he told to friends”, etc.

What does this mean for education?

The Personal Democracy Forum is a Web site focusing on the intersection of politics and technology and it is hosting a Twitter debate between presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama. Representatives between the two campaigns have organized a Presidential Debate using Twitter. People can Follow the Twitter as questions and watch the answers. To learn more about the Twitter Debate go to:
To find out more about Twitter, go to:

Or, go to:

My Twitter name is MKSouden. If you use MSouden, that is my nephew Matt.

What about Google Making Us Stupid

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I recently received an article titled, Is Google Making Us Stupid from a local library media specialist and at first thought that it was another article complaining about the curse of the Internet and how awful Google is. I found the article exceptionally interesting and while it pointed out some reading behaviors that people are picking up using the Internet and search engines, I found it confirming and enlightening rather than damming.

The article is enlightening because it describes and lends research to the concept of “kids brains being wired differently today”. The phenomenon described is one in which people who read a lot of electronic documents like email, Internet and e-book text, and text message read very differently than when they read a book or journal article. I have the same issue. I do not read a novel or other book that requires focus over time unless I am on vacation. The last “book” I read was last summer; The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey. This winter Beach Music got shelved because of a severe over Christmas cold. When I try to read something like a book, that is not short and to the point, it takes me a very long time to redevelop the good habits for in depth reading.

The confirming part is what many of us have been advocating true information literacy have for years. Students, and now many of the rest of us, know how to technically use technology well. As many of the PEW Internet in American Life studies point out those in our schools know how to use technology very well outside of school – inside of school they are unplugged and have few opportunities to use electronic media in a guided formal way. Therefore, they are not, and apparently many adults, are not truly information literate. We, and our students, not only limit the sources of our information to the Internet, we do not know how to search that resource well. When we (and our students) read what we get, we skim, glean a little but are not good at truly reflecting on what we have found. Often this occurs because of the hectic pace that we (and our students) live and because the nature of hypertext is often distracting and too easily takes us somewhere else. Information Literacy is being able to use information in a variety formats to make decisions, solve problems, and create new knowledge. The superficial way in which we allow ourselves (and our students) to read yields superficial understanding.

What is the solution? First, don’t blame Google or the Internet or the other forms of electronic text. We need, as the Google article points out, to understand that every advance of information technologies has presented pitfalls and problems but also exceptionally positive results. The author points out the obvious ones like the printing press and the less obvious ones like Nietzsche deciding to use a typewriter because of his poor vision and how it changed his writing, some think for the better. Also, on the positive side, access to information is much more democratic. It is also true that publishing is much more democratic.

As I read the article I reflected back to 1969, trying to put together a paper for my United States Foreign Policy Course at Oakland University on Teddy Roosevelt’s use of diplomacy. After searching through the hard copy card catalog of the fiche or it might have been the film collection of original diplomatic exchanges during Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, I went to the air-conditioned basement of the library where I skimmed quickly through these dispatches and printed off only the ones I wanted. The reason for skimming while using the machine was the cold and because trying to read and write notes was very difficult. Printing off the paper (which I paid for by the sheet) was easier. I could then read and reflect on the dispatches and take notes. While reading the dispatches there were no hyperlinks to another article. I had to select and choose which dispatch to read next and the time to change the spools provided short opportunities to reflect. What search engines, the Internet and other electronic forms of text do is take away the opportunity to reflect and make purposeful decisions. HOWEVER, I truly love and very much appreciate how I, or anyone with Internet access can quickly get information on a large variety of topics easily from the comfort of home. The opportunities are endless, what is lacking is a strategy for accessing, reading and understanding what we are reading.

As Cris Tovani in an ASCD article The Power of Purposeful Reading points out students (like adults), when reading generally, need to be prepared for what they are about to read. Why are they reading it, what questions should they be asking and what strategies should they use for the type of reading the need?

I purposefully did not provide a lot of links at the beginning of this posting. I left them at the end and highly encourage you to read them.

The The Power of Purposeful Reading is at

Is Google Making us Stupid is at

Future of the Internet, interview with Lee Rainie,