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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can't Educators BE the Net? Safety Net, that is.

Edutopia has a phenomenal recent article, Stumbling Blocks: Playing It Too Safe Will Make You Sorry,  by uber-edtech writer Suzie Boss where the issue of filtration is powerfully presented.

"Content filters and firewalls are great for keeping kids away from
pornography, as required by the Children's Internet Protection Act (download the PDF), or preventing them from updating their Facebook status during class. But the
same filters can stop teachers from accessing cutting-edge widgets and
digital materials that have enormous potential for expanding learning."

Suzie goes on to interview Kevin Honeycutt, Maria Knee, Antero Garcia, Steve Hargadon, and Ron Canuel.

But here is my question, Why can't we use collaborative technologies to allow educators to BE the net... safety net, that is?

I want to go back to a November 2nd post, Making Friends with Youtube, and pull out a point from there that I think needs discussing and YOU did.

Quite a few of you commented, and I'd like to share some of what YOU said about this:

I second your call for an education section of Youtube. There is so
much there of value to teachers, it's a shame that it is blocked in
many schools. Mathew Needleman

"The other feature that I think would be really awesome for educational
use would be, in addition to deep linking, deep commenting. If you
could have comments pop up in real time relating to specific moments,
it would be a lot like a student's real-time reactions to...well,
everything. It would be very meaningful to see how they relate to any
given moment." Dan Callahan

"These are some great ideas. Here's my question: How difficult would it
be to actually develop a new URL site to enable teachers to work
through videos together before going public with them. I'm not a
techie, by any means, but I can't imagine that this would be too
difficult, or expensive? (If I'm understanding you correctly, the point
would be to upload the video and not have to download it to watch it?)" Andrew Pass

I agree completely with your points regarding youtube! We have used it
in our classes but have spent a lot of time fast forwarding to get to
the quote or interview needed for the assignment. I’m glad we
will be able to do that now. I also agree that youtube is missing out
on a market by not having a section devoted to education. Not only
would it make it easier for educators to find appropriate material
quickly, but it might entice more to use youtube in their classes.  Mark (no link provided)

I have been using YouTube in our school for almost a year in looking
for content and publishing our Bulldog Barks shows. The changes you
call for would be welcome. However, there is Teacher Tube which as
improved greatly over the last few months. One of our district
higher-ups actually wished I would move over to here exclusively but
there is still one thing YouTube has that Teacher Tube does not. An
audience. It is this fact most people use YouTube. Perhaps if people
would e-mail Google and YouTube with your suggestions they may do it.
Google is all about the eyeballs.  John Woodring

Josh says that Google has bought TeacherTube, something that I cannot find any information on.

Youtube is great for educational purposes. If I want to know how stuff works I just look it up on youtube. Geld Lenen

I share all these comments to point something out:  YouTube has value.  To me, the TWO essential video components of my classroom and the other teachers at our school are: 

1) Discovery Education Streaming - (formerly United streaming) A subscription from Discovery Education which is our virtual library of life and every curricular objective you can imagine! AND
2) Youtube

We're also beginning to really use the video tutorials from Atomic Learning as well.

To me, these are ESSENTIAL tools in my classroom.  Not optional, ESSENTIAL.

Yes, I have to have every computer screen viewable from my desk and watch what the students are doing and so does every other teacher.  Every screen must be viewable from a teacher's desk.  That is the best monitoring that there is. 

Can't We Be the Net?

I still have to wonder if youtube would enable a URL like http://education.youtube.com, that we could "send" acceptable videos to that URL and ublock the others.  The educators who could "send" videos should be approved as part of the Youtube Educators group and we will collaboratively build the site for them.

All we'd need is a way to do it, system to "approve" educators, and an option to flag videos.  I'd also like two tabs on the discussion - one for teachers to share and comment HOW they used a video in the classroom and share resources and a tab for students/ commenters ABOUT the video.  Sort of a dual-threaded approach.

We would be a better filter than any company could ever be.

So, we have Web 2.0, why don't we USE it for goodness sakes instead of blocking everything.  There are ways to do this, but companies are going to have to be willing to partner with educators.  I think "outsourcing" this sort of thing to the educational community makes  alot of sense.

Maybe if enough of us keep talking about this, the people over at Youtube will take a listen.  If you like this idea, ECHO IT.  And when the echo becomes a cacophony, we will get noticed.  Blog It.  See It Happen.

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