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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

If you believe in wikis, blogs, and edublogging in America, speak up or lose it!



Do something to make a difference, participate in the DOPA Wiki created by Will Richardson. (If this is the first you've heard of it, you may want some background on my DOPA: From book burning to blog burning? blog entry.)

This afternoon, I spent around on hour on the page that I think is going to be most useful, the "Top 20 reasons not to support DOPA."

Already on the list:

20. This bill will increase the technology gap.
Blogging and the effective use Internet information is a vital skill for children to master. Only having access at home to these technologies will target our most at-risk populations by disallowing them to have access at all, since most disadvantaged kids use public libraries and schools for access to the very tools that will allow them to be competitive in the 21st century market place. Through this piece of legislation we will only further the chasm between the haves and have nots.

19. This bill will prevent the effective teaching of the Internet.
It is vital that teachers educate their students that what they post on the Internet is in a sense permanent--the follies of youth will haunt you in your thirties. Young people sometimes do foolish things; like sharing revealing pictures of themselves on the Internet. They think only the one person they send it to will ever see it. They often do these things without thinking about the consequences. (They are, after all, children.) They need to be educated how to use and access the Internet responsibly. Where better to educate them on effective Internet literacy and use than at school? DOPA would deprive them of the education that is increasingly important in the digital age.

I added a little to those and expounded on a few points other authors had contributed. Here are those points:

17. This bill will limit the sharing of best practices among educators around the world.
In a study commissioned by the National Governor's Association (NGA) in 2003, Harvard Scholar, Richard Elmore concluded that:

"Knowing the right thing to do is the central problem of school improvement. Holding schools accountable for their performance depends on having people in the schools with the knowledge, skill, and judgment to make the improvements that will increase student performance. (p 9)"

Educators, teachers, administrators, and others are journaling in online journals called blogs about their best practices in all facets of education. Because there is no standard platform for blogging but most educators use the free blogging tools available to them because they are fast, easy, and inexpensive. This bill would effectively remove the American public school teacher and administrator from reading about and sharing their best practices with the world. This would be to the detriment of American public school students who will be completely left out of innovations that emerge much more rapidly than they did even five years a go. Research papers are presented and conferences, published, and discussed via blogs all within days. This research would have to be disseminated via other means to public schools who wanted to improve based on the latest research. American education is in a crisis situation and our students need their teachers and administrators to be able to participate in the discussion. As leading educator, Robert J. Marzano said in his 2003 research paper "A Tool for selecting the 'Right Work' in Your school' , "The problem in low performing schools is not getting people to work hard, it is getting people to do the 'right work.'" (p 1)

By restricting access to blogs, wikis, and RSS feeds, efforts to keep children from being "left behind" will be stopped in their tracks as leading educators lose the valuable resources available to them through wikis, blogs, and other social networking tools.

16. This bill will prevent research into emerging technologies.
The system that teaches America's teachers focuses on research based methodologies. The technologies of wikis and blogs are very exciting and have produced a lot of anecdotal evidence to show that they work effectively. Basic research into these technologies is just beginning and would be halted before it reached critical mass. In America, we simply must re-engage our students into the education system. By limiting one of the most promising technologies, we could also be setting aside a technology that has the potential to move us forward and become competitive again with the world.

15-2

1. This bill will cause more predatory behavior because of the lack of education.
When threats to the safety of our citizens arise such as the dangers of tobacco and the dangers of the not wearing seatbelts, our country wisely seeks to educate our citizens. In our free country, our citizens can choose to participate in harmful behavior, but we hope they will do it with open eyes and and understanding of their choices. We have a mechanism to reach the majority of our children about the dangers of Internet predators and privacy: the public school system. To neglect teaching safety to these children is to be contrary to the beliefs that most educators hold dear. Rather than restrict access, we should focus on educating students. Rather than forcing students to log on alone, we should guide them onto the Internet at school. This does not mean they will be doing personal activities on school time, rather it means they will learn effective, productive, and safe methodologies of harnessing the newest tools to learn.

Participate in the conversation!
I've posted these because I hope that you've seen something that you're dying to change or add. If so, you can comment here, but if you really want to make a difference, contribute to the wiki! The password is DOPA. Don't be afraid that you don't know how to "wiki." If you can type, you can wiki, just go to the page and click edit. If you have trouble, let me know! I'm sure Mrs. Vicki will help you wiki!

Contribute meaningful, research-fact based information

I think this is about meaningful, fact based discussion. In college, I worked in Washington so I have a disdain for impuning the motives of others, for broad sweeping, emotional attacks. This is about what is best for children.

I really think there are a lot of people out there who are upset about what is happening in myspace. They want something done. It is the educator's responsibility to propose SOMETHING that will help improve the safety of children online. It is our responsibility to educate!

It is better to educate children about something that is not going away than to attempt an already-doomed effort to restrict access to something that is exploding in use. There are so many better ways to accomplish protection of the young than to ban myspace.

Why every educator should care!

Some ask why I care so much since I'm a private school teacher. Besides my convictions that these technologies improve the classroom and my desire for a better America, I learn so much from other teacher/edubloggers, most of which are public school teachers.

What would happen to our information exchange? What would happen to the knowledge I glean on a daily basis from some incredible teachers in the American Public School system?

Things are changing in education and edublogging has brought us closer. I would hate to see us step backwards. I would mourn for the lost potential I see in blogs and wikis to engage students in learning again!
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