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Adding new layers to Digital Learning Day 2017

Once again I’m planning some activities around the upcoming Digital Learning Day.

dlday2017Having participated since 2013, the plan is to add more than just lessons and best practices.

I’ve invited some tech practitioners, and we may even consider a community event that addresses topics that parents lose sleep over: over sharing, cyber-bullying, and the correlation between screens and grades.

Plus, I am considering an essay competition on a social media topic, and getting some students to create their own podcasts.

Digital Learning Day is on Feb. 23rd.

Here is what we did for 2016 Digital Learning Day

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2017 in Social Media

 

Long before fake news, we had half-truths

You’ve heard the adage, “a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.” 

In the absence of fact-checking, we cultivated scepticism. It’s easy to blame our epidemic of fake news on the Russian trolls, and geo-politics. But truth is, half-truths and conspiracy theories circulated before social media arrived on the scene. Some even embedded themselves into the pages of history. Here are two:

Have you heard the one about Black Confederates? It’s a ‘story’ of how 80,000 black soldiers supposedly fought for the Confederacy. This is, as the Civil War website calls it, shoddy facts that’s were “repeated, amplified, and twisted” to become credible to some, just because the story fit their agenda.

Or the story of American planes dropping napalm in South Vietnam? It surrounds the Pulitzer prize-winning photograph, taken by Associated Press photographer, Nick Ut on June 8, 1972. That too, we are informed by Joseph Campbell, was a myth. The photo was accurate. The story was not.

Which brings me to how do we teach fact checking to young people ?

Until a few years ago some made Wikipedia the culprit. But even before that there were stories circulated via email, that travelled through an unverified friend-of-a-friendsnetwork. They contained dubious facts no one bothered to fact check. Fast forward to now, and we like to blame the trolls.

How easy it is to blame someone else when the onus ought to be on us.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Education, Journalism, Media

 

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Wired, Tired, and killing our creativity

As we get back to school, I can’t help noticing how tired students seem to be. One doesn’t need to look around to know the reason why: We are probably over-wired!

There are new details coming out each month on how over-connectedness, rather than stimulating creativity, is killing it. When anyone asks me what my follow-up to my book about social media, Chat Republic (2013) might be, I flippantly say it will be called Anti-social Media.

There is plenty of research and literature on the topic. Two books I am planning to read are “The Power of Off. By Nancy Colier. And Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle.

It sounds a bit like my favorite works on the subject, which I have commented on before:

 

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Do we have space for Makerspaces and tech shops?

Some days I wish I could convert part of my computer lab into a Makerspace. After all I have re-defined it as a Computer and Technology Lab, so it would be appropriate to have other technologies. Like a metal cutter, or workbench to build things – such as making a speaker out of an Altoid tin, or rudimentary printing such as silk-screening.

I thought of this again after getting into a discussion with a teacher visiting our school from New Zealand this week. She spoke of how curriculum there includes woodwork, needlework and many hands-on activities.

She was not been aware of Makerspaces, but mentioned a parallel well-organized movement called Mens’ Sheds – run by retired people so that anyone could take up a new skill.

Makerspaces here are great places for students with rudimentary engineering products in mind, for say a science fair. They are open to anyone and are often free. Some school libraries are carving out makerspaces for 3-D printing.

I’ve visited one in Mesa, Arizona called HeatSync Labs. Love the name!

I’ve still to visit the TechShop in Chandler where you could learn CAD drawing, or how to build a (guess what?) Bluetooth speaker!

 

 

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When Microsoft ‘draws’ as good as a Sharpie

When I tell students that Word or PowerPoint is a versatile tool, and not just for typing of creating slides, I never know what to expect. Such as how some of them have mastered the ‘Curve’ tool in the Shapes menu.

Here’s one. Looks like a pen-and-ink sketch, doesn’t it?

goku_student_drawing2

 

It gets better! Because this is about animating.  The student’s storyboard in PowerPoint  just kept growing!
goku_student_drawing    
goku_student_drawing3

goku_student_drawing4

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education, STEM, Technology

 

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All the *fake* news that fit to share

At least ‘The Onion’ doesn’t pretend to be real news. Just well-written ‘stories’ that parody news. But it gets harder to spot the truly fake from the plausible, somewhat fake. For instance could you spot which one of these is an Onion story, and which is made up?

  • The Secretary Of Treasury Announces Plan To Remove Gross Penny From Circulation.
  • An Ipsos Public Affairs study (for Buzzfeed) showed that fake headlines fool American adults 75% of the time.
  • Pope Francis asked Catholics to not vote for Clinton.

OK, so the story about the penny was a classic Onion piece. The Ipsos Study was real. The Pew study was just made up for your entertainment, though the story about the Pope did get circulated on social media, thought it had been debunked.

If you like to test how news savvy you are (or not) take this sample of  questions, by Marketwatch. 

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2016 in Media, New Media, Social Media

 

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Hidden illustration & animation talent

I simply asked my 6th graders to work with ‘stick figures’ this afternoon, teaching animation in PowerPoint.

Within 20 minutes, this is what I saw!

Mini storyboards with cartoon characters, galloping sheep and even a shark attack. The one with yellow bars is actually a ‘game’ that plays with sound as the ball travels through. What hidden talent!

 

sharktalent  game 

 

 

 

girl

sheep

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education

 

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