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Category Archives: Twitter

Earth to Scott Kelly: Welcome home!

Watching Scott Kelly, and his ongoing work on the International Space Station for the past year has been like following a live-action science-and-technology class.

Many of the NASA-related activities in our school this past year (talking with an engineer at JPL, and the crew of a Mars mission simulation etc) have directly or indirectly addressed to the big question “What will it be like to live on Mars?” Astro-twins Scott and Mark Kelly, have become the human faces of astronomy, aerospace, and space exploration.

Students keep asking questions such as:

What kind of ‘work’ do engineers and astronauts do, besides floating around doing ‘space gardening’ and 3D mapping? Some amazing work is described here. We watched some incredible views taken by GoPro cameras aboard the ISS, including one involving inserting the GoPro into a water bubble.

On the fun side, I’ve even used Scott’s Time Magazine cover photo to teach a class on Photoshop (replacing Kelly with a 6th grade teacher who’s got a similar look.)

Here’s hoping we see more of Kelly brothers, and get to hear from Scott. Perhaps in a future Mars Day!

He should be back on earth tonight – NASA says touchdown is scheduled for 11:27 pm Eastern Time. As he put it in 140 characters before he left the ISS, “the journey isn’t over.”

 

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Media Illiteracy prevails, and the adults aren’t off the hook

As our modes of communication grow smarter, we seem to be doing a shoddy job of using them. This is not just about the misuse of Twitter, of which dumb tweets are legion. Such as a Time correspondent firing off a tweet wishing for a drone strike on Julian Assange in 2013. This is about young people who have too powerful publishing tools at their disposal. If you like to know more, you will love this compilation!

This week, six High School students in Arizona got themselves and their school into serious trouble, using SnapChat. They got a picture of themselves taken wearing shirts that spelled out a racial slur. They learned, too late, that an app’s ability to ‘communicate’ should not define the message. (If none of them had data-enabled mobile devices would anyone have even bothered setting up the shot?).

An editorial in the Arizona Republic asked how students who have gone through a curriculum that probably included close reading and discussion of the civil war era, could have been so crass.

It’s hard to imagine these girls got this far in school without reading the ugly chapters in American history about the enslavement and oppression of Black people. Did they fail to pay attention? Did they fail to connect the dots to real people?

Let’s not get parents off the hook. How much time are we spending with young people to inform them about media use? It’s easy to be tool literate and media stupid.

Here are some thoughts for parents who may be considering giving a teenager (actually pre-teens, now) a mobile device:

  1. You pay for the phone and the data plan. You own the device; you set the rules. A phone is not like a pair of shoes, it doesn’t have to belong to the end-user.
  2. You better decide on the apps that get on the phone. Don’t complain later when a kid is spending too much time on Insta-brag or Brat-chat. I mean Instagram and Snapchat.
  3. Like your car keys, devices not owned by a child should be stored outside of bedrooms at night.
  4. It’s possible for homework assignments to be completed without digital devices. Really!
  5. Make sure your child makes every effort to not be in a video taken by a fellow insta-bragger.
  6. Finally, make sure your child’s school has a policy that has been updated to match the ubiquity and speed of shared media. It’s no longer valid to call it a ‘social media policy’. It’s a device use policy.
 

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White House goes Cheesy, hashtags and all

It’s that time of year when communicators have too much time on their hands. Consider how: North Korea is pretending to prove it has a Hydrogen bomb (various sourcessay this was a damp squib); the sports minister of Sri Lanka is claiming he’s received ‘scandalous’ pictures of cricketers in New Zealand (hotels are denying this), and Google’s ‘self-driving’ cars are supposedly dangerous (drivers have sometimes had to stop them from crashing).

Perhaps it’s that down time after the Christmas season, when there’s a news hole that needs to be filled. With Cheese, for instance. The White House is hosting a humongous cheese party. The hashtag being #youfetabelieveit. It’s called the Big Block of Cheese Day. It’s been created after Andrew Jackson’s 1837 event, for which he trucked in a 1,400 pound block of cheese and had citizens come and mingle with the occupants. A sort of Open House event.

I don’t know how Mr. Jackson managed to handle this without a Tumbler account, but it sure goes to prove that sometimes all you need is a piece of cheese to get people to hang out with you. Unless you don’t mind keeping away the lactose intollerant.

 

 

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Sri Lankans “consolidate the January 8 revolution” in landmark elections

Pardon for my dredging up the cliché about how “the people have spoken.”

As Sri Lanka sees the results of a peaceful general election today, the real revolution has been in the making for a few years.

We now take for granted that most journalists provide results and news in real-time. Even providing clarity today, amid the euphoria, and contradictory ‘reports’.

We aren’t surprised anymore that the Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs, Harsha de Silva uses his Twitter handle, as if he was texting you personally (and bilingually, too).  He’s not alone in this digital democracy of 20.8 million people.

One of the 5 trends in Sri Lanka, as outlined by Anna Bruce-Lockhart at the World Economic Forumis the gains in digitization. (The Full report is here.)

I welcome the maturity of an informed digital democracy in our Chat Republic.

 

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Why the fuss about the @POTUS handle?

Hasn’t the White House cheering squad got the memo that the number of ‘Followers’ one has on Twitter is not a big deal anymore?

In the early days of micro-blogging, when so many so-called social media experts were bragging about hitting some magic number in Followers, this was excusable – although pathetic.

So it befuddles me why so many stories are showing up about president Obama’s Followers on his @POTUS handle.

It is a fun acronym, I know. But it’s just a stand-in for a real person. Caitlyn Dewey put it best, when she said (in a Washington Post column) that “On the modern Internet, impressions of anonymity and ephemerality are, well … usually fake.”

Translated: POTUS is just that – a handle. By handlers.

 

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The “Windows in our Palms” and Digital Practice

There is no shortage of studies about the value or misuse of smart phones. It’s hard to find an adult who does not carry one. (For the record I know three people, and they are doing just fine!)

As a technology teacher in an elementary school, I must take into account the downside of too much tech, and too little ‘think time’ whether my students are involved in writing, weighing in during a discussion, or sometimes, even listening to instructions, undistracted by the screens to which we give them access.

These Digital Natives may rarely find a space that is free of technology, or an object or space urging them to turn to technology. For this reason I kicked off my classes with a unit on Digital Citizenship.

Technology is a tricky beast. Should we ban phones and roll out the cart of tablets? Should we discourage social media, but ask them to become familiar with ‘journaling’ a.k.a. blogging, one of the earliest forms of social media? Hmm!

Here are two pieces worth reading and watching:

“Why I quit Twitter” – Patton Oswalt, TIME Magazine 
Not just a discussion of Twitter, but a wonderful, commentary on how people are “peeping at windows in their palms.”

“Kids with cell phones. How young is too young?
A short video by CBS News about the pros and cons of cell phones for young children, and the need to model good practices, and teach ‘digital hygiene’.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in Education, Media, Twitter

 

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Now that selfies are in, can we start ignoring them?

If I see one more selfie on a national awards show, I may gag. It’s getting rather tiresome, seeing grown-ups climb aboard a bandwagon that usually has reserved seating for self-obsessed teenagers.

Sure the made-up word entered the OED last year — but so did jorts and fauxhawk in 2012. It also trumped the word ‘schmeat“, the new word for fake meat. In case you needed to click on the above link, you are probably like me, shaking your head in despair.

But to get back to selfies, yesterday on the Country Music Awards, there was a selfie moment, and we wondered whatever happened to human ingenuity. Didn’t Ellen make it clear that she owned that brightly lit space that celebs inhabit?

Just to cement the fact that we are in that moment in time when this awful word is rushing to meet us, there’s that annoying song. Obnoxious, albeit a wonderful parody of selfie culture. It’s title: “Let Me Get a Selfie.”

To add to this there’s the pres of the United States fawning over a selfie, as if it was the best thing that happened to image management –with a touch of product placement. I understand the man is desperately going after all the Likes and re-tweets he can get.

It’s time for people over 21 to calmly put away their phones and start real conversations.

 

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