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Friday, December 12, 2008

Dear Google



This letter was written by a ninth grade student to Google and is cross posted on our Digiteen Dream team blog. If you haven't visited the blog of these students, it is so much more than about Lively. Embedded in their words are student views of education, digital citizenship, and project based learning.

We blogged it and sent it in to Google.   (If you want to write Google a letter, this is the best place to share it with them -- please send in a note advocating the use of Lively in education and asking that they keep it alive!)

From Miller:

Greetings Google,
My name is Miller. I am in the ninth grade at Westwood Schools in Camilla, Georgia. You are probably wondering what a small town girl like me is trying to talk to an enormous company like Google. The truth is, I might be small, but I have big ideas and a big mouth to go with it. You are probable familiar with the protest that is going on with your product, Lively. The rest of my classmates a group of people called the Livelyzens and I are part of that protest. We are very passionate about this program because we used it in major project.

About two months ago, our class started an action project in which we taught the seventh grade class at our school about Digital Citizenship. We created avatars, which we made to look like superheroes, and used them to teach the kids about the nine aspects of Digital Citizenship-Access
Communication, Literacy, Security and Safety, Etiquette, Rights and Responsibilities, Commerce, Law, Health and Wellness. When it came to choosing the virtual world that we would teach in, our teacher, Mrs. Vicki, recommended Google Lively. When we tested it out, we loved it. We loved the way that you could create a room designed especially for what you wanted. One cool thing that we found that we could do was block the room. Because we had had some run-ins with people that would use bad language, we decided to block the room. In this way, our students could learn in a safe environment with just us.

During our first lesson, Pearson Publishing was at our school to video about our technological use. They videoed our first session, and will feature it in a series that they are doing about technology in school. The first lesson went great! We had fun and most importantly, the seventh graders had fun. They love Lively! Our main goal was to teach them about digital citizenship. We accomplished our goal and then some. They also learned how to create their own virtual world. They were very eager to participate in the next lesson. This made us feel even more accomplished because we had made learning fun for them.

The reason that we are protesting you is because we are in love with your program. Lively has done so much for us. It has helped us teach students about Digital Citizenship, and it has taught us more about virtual worlds. As a matter of fact, Lively is not much different than the other programs that your company offers. It provides informational services just in a different way. It gave us information about virtual worlds that we would not have obtained without the help from your program.

I am asking you as a customer, a gamer, and a student to let lively live. You could let Lively go open source so that everyone will be able to use it. That would be a great answer to this great question. Please Google, on behalf of my classmates, the Livelyzens, and eveybody else around the world that loves this program, I am asking you-Please let Lively live!

These students are making me very proud.  I've been called to task for having the students work on what most consider is a "hopeless cause" and I admit that the students and I both knew when we decided to share our views that this cause is indeed pretty hopeless.  That a behemoth like Google would actually listen to us at all is so unlikely.

But, they are speaking out about so much more than just Google Lively and good blogging is built on passion.  They are passionate about 3d worlds, they are passionate about digital citizenship and sharing the story with other students, and they are passionate about the fact that Google is making a mistake.

I have agreed to support THEM in their desire to speak out.  As a person who believes in a democracy - is is their right to speak out.  As a person who is a capitalist, it is great for customers to share their views on the products that they use.  As a teacher of technology, using technology tools in ways that are relevant to students makes my subject much more exciting and the learning is much more deep.  My customer is my student and my product is an educated, inspired mind that knows how to act with ethics, good planning, objectives, independence and in ways that will ultimately benefit their future companies and society as a whole. 

They are really learning how to blog and have a global audience that is emerging for their little blog that is just a week old.  (If I'd had these sorts of blog stats just starting out, wow!!!)


So, support these students and other students who blog publicly by leaving comments and reblogging their work!


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