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Category Archives: Blogs

Technology in schools. Love it or hate it?

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Touch screens and Robotics. My classroom this yea

In my upcoming July technology column I analyze the pros and the cons of Technology in Education. A few in my network have asked me about my thoughts on this ever-changing topic. (In Oct 2014 I did cover it – “Disrupting Education)

Here’s a summary of what’s to come. As you and I witness the discomforting transition from text books to tablets, from hand-outs to videos-as-homework, from sequential ‘lectures’ to disruptive (noisy) small group activity, it’s easy to fold our hands across our chests and fight it. But there are some compelling arguments on both sides. The Wall Street Journal, and the International Association of Technology in Education almost in the same week ran Pro and Con arguments about Ed-Tech. I get both sides! In my classes I argue against the inane use of social media for the sake of ‘publicity’, but I encourage thought use of digital media with real, and real-time audience participation.

‘Hall and Stevens’ Vs Khan Academy. In my younger days, I had to thumb through Hall and Stevens, the geometry ‘bible.’ Today’s kids are learning geometry from a guy called Salman Khan, founder the free online learning portal for mathematics and science. (Fun sidebar: ‘Hall and Stevens’ is available as an eBook; flip the pages as if it was a real book, here: https://archive.org/details/schoolgeometry00hall

Screen Time vs Think Time. I am a big proponent of virtual and augmented reality, especially if it could bring in ‘distant’ experiences (Civil War, 3D models of engineering, space science etc), but I also aggressively advocate limited screen time. Odd isn’t it? That’s the dilemma we educators and parents face. Augmented Reality

Your son or daughter probably goes to school with a device in her backpack with more processing power than the rocket that took men to the moon, and this child wants to be… an astronaut? You’ve forgotten how to log into your son’s school website to download his missed homework, but… he’s found a way to ‘jailbreak’ your cell phone? There are ‘teaching moments’ in all of these.

Sal Khan speaks of the “fundamentally dehumanizing experience” in education. And he was not talking about teenagers and even pre-teens staring at their phones and not talking to one another. A real, ‘digital citizenship’ crisis, right now! He was referring to children packed in a classroom! Hmm!

Love it or hate it, technology is gate crashing our class rooms, just like ball-point pens or calculators once did. Are you ready for it?

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Citizens’ voices matter

A few years ago I conducted a series of webinar-style workshops for the U.S. State Department, for content creators, educators, marketers and those in traditional and new media. The workshops were called  “Passport to Digital Citizenship.”

I was convinced that citizen’s voices would be valuable, and –despite technological barriers and people who would try to keep them quiet– they could be heard.

So today, as my book is about to launch, I am thrilled to see this report by CNN on the importance of citizen-driven media.

Journalism has been forever changed — I’d argue for the better — thanks to the fact that people can interact with media organizations and share their opinions, personal stories, and photos and videos of news as it happens. This year’s nominated iReports are prime examples of how participatory storytelling can positively affect the way we cover and understand the news. 

(“36 stories that prove citizen journalism matters.” By Katie Hawkins-Gaar, CNN | Wed April 3, 2013 )

When we talk of  ‘participatory journalism’ we mean that ‘CitJos’ work alongside traditional media. They are not here as a replacement model, but to complement the changing media industry. Of the 100,000 citizen stories submitted to CNNiReport.com in 2012, they used 10,789 –having vetted them first.

I just interviewed the creator of a leading citizen journalist outfit in South Asia, and he stressed the importance of community guidelines, and careful design.

Citizen journalism, and the power of citizen voices is a big section in my book, Chat Republic.

 

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Wikis to books worth experimenting

I often make the point that we spend too much time clicking on links, rather than spending time on the meaning of what we read.

So I thought of experimenting with PediaPress, a service that lets you convert Wikipedia pages into a book.

The book? On Clark University – for my son’s graduation today.

Knowing fully well that information on the university will change, did not bother me. In fact, that’s precisely why I wanted to do it. After all, Wikipedia content is not exactly writ in stone, could be considered as relevant for a moment in time.

(If you’ve been watching how pages get edited, and the edit wars that ensue over single words or phrases, you’ll know that this ‘moment’ sometimes changes several times an hour as a result of furious edit wars!) I want the book to be a sort of  time capsule that he could one day look back on.

PediaPress is basically offering a print on demand (POD) service, but the beauty of this is how simple they have made the steps. There’s very limited customization (the cover and title, plus a preface), but the layout of pages and sections are very clean.

I would have liked a bit more customization, such as:

  • The ability to move photographs and charts into separate pages
  • Uploading my own photograph for the cover, and a few others for other pages
  • An acknowledgment or title page
  • Adding text to back cover

But as this was an experiment, I was willing to take the risk.

Other risks. For a different project, say trying to compile a short compendium of knowledge on a breaking news event, or a current topic, using Wikipedia as the source of content is more risky. While the Creative Commons license gives anyone permission to use and re-purpose content, one has to me meticulous about accuracy.

I began to wonder of there are other similar services that let you blend knowledge from multiple sources, and let you add chapters to the book. I’ve looked at Blurb, which offers a Blog-to-Book option. Lulu also has a great service. a cookbook/ A book of poetry/ Wikipedia has a rich selection.

Give it a try!

 

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Why Journalists go for your blog

There are some studies that compare a company’s Twitter profile to a blog.

The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer study, which I’ve always found to be a fascinating read on where we are in social media practice, had some equally strong indicators as to where traditional and digital media sit on the trust scale.

For instance, trust in company’s web sites are (hold your breath!) up!

So this infographic, which summaries a survey by UK-based Text 100 is a good sidebar to the study. It speaks of engaging journalists using social media.

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News Flash: Some companies do listen!

I like to follow up on my experience with Data Doctors two seeks ago, when I complained that I had been taken. It was a communication problem, rather than about bad service.

Before the end of the day I wrote that post, the CEO of the company wrote to me (via Twitter) indicating they wanted fix the problem.

But it didn’t stop there. The next day, Robert called me (you could listen to a short audio clip), explaining why they disagreed with the ‘policy’ that had been thrown my way, and making an offer to remedy it.

So while we do hear of how often organizations are tone deaf to their customers and prospects, a good number of them have empowered their employees to be the antennas of the organization. Unfortunately it doesn’t hit the wires often enough when companies do listen!

Indeed, listening is only one part of the equation when there’s a dent in reputation. Following it up makes a big difference. As Robert told me, Data Doctors has had to live with the fact that a post from one disgruntled person (an employee, apparently), albeit inaccurate, still lives in the blogosphere.

I brought this up at length on my radio show this week (iTunes or player here) if you like to listen to the follow up and more context.

 

Universities in Sri Lanka Explore Blogging

Guest post by – ​Indulekha Nanayakkara​

When I was invited to conduct a presentation on New Media for a group of students who are studying journalism at a local University, the University of Colombo, I was both flattered and overwhelmed at first.

Yes, it’s true that I’ve been reading a lot and working on social media for the past few years, taken every opportunity that came my way to get deeper into social media. However, the fact that I will be speaking to university students itself was in a way, overwhelming. I was expecting myself to be bombarded with questions after the presentation so I read up on extra areas as well.

At the beginning of the presentation I was curious to find out who was on what social networking sites. So I asked them to raise their hands. Facebook – almost everyone. Twitter – Just one girl and she said she wasn’t that active. Blogs – none.

To be honest, I was a little shocked to see the response with regard to Twitter and Blogging. The presentation being on the importance of blogging, in addition to social media; I had to change my stance a little bit and go slightly more basic.

The response was mixed. Some had a sparkle in their eyes, while others had a blank expression. The majority were curious I guess. The back story here is that, out of the whole group of about thirty or so students that were present at the conference, five of them had been to the U.S. earlier this year for a one-and-a-half month long program called “Global Perspectives on Democracy – New Media” along with some students from India and Bangladesh. This was conducted at the University of Virginia. So, it was the same five students who organized the conference I was speaking at – “Youth Leadership Conference on New Media 2010”.

After the conference however, about seven or eight students stayed back and just chit-chatted with me. I tried my best to make them see the importance of blogging as a tool in citizen journalism, as well as the importance of networking through Twitter. As I was leaving, I promised them that I would follow up and help them to start a blog and I think it was an important start.

From what I gathered from the students that I met that day, they are keen on writing. But they are not quite sure where and how to begin. They also had a vague idea of creating a blog that would act as a bulletin board for the students.

This got me thinking. If the situation in universities is such, what about schools? I know for a fact that at least in international schools, the children know their way around chatting and facebook usage. But what about serious networking? Would they think of chatting with their potential future university lecturers or senior colleagues? Would they like to read blogs of students of their age but from various global communities? Do they know that they can collaborate with their friends on class projects once they go home, in order to complete them? And do they also know that they can do research and not necessarily surfing the web just for fun!

Apart from all of this, the good news is, that the students are geared to do their own blog. Once it is live, I hope to share it with your here.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2010 in Blogs, Social Media, Sri Lanka

 

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When attack ads have a sense of humor, brands aren’t laughing

The moment you see this website you want to have a good gaffaw.

It’s a cross between The Onion, and the fake BP Global PR Twitter handle.

But it highlights the seriousness of social media monitoring, and why you can’t be asleep at the wheel.

On Monday NPR ran a story about Ben Quayle, and how his ‘dirty’* Google juice was pushing down search results to the positive things his campaign wanted to emphasize. Problems like that won’t get buried easily.

Jon Kaufman of Zog Media was quoted as saying this industry is dependent on who controls the message.

Really? Control, or Manage?

Recall how BP faced a logo attack as well. How do you stop that? Or take a look at this Press Release. It’s Chevron’s statement on….

Just kidding!

Try controlling that!