Thursday, December 6, 2012

Under the chaos lies more rubble

So this year has been a little chaotic, students and kids are much more comfortable with their laptops and with comfort there can be a loss of focus of the intent of the laptops.  Which is what I am seeing, given the way I have my machines set up, some apps can be downloaded and run without being installed.

So it got me to thinking about addressing the issues with kids and led to me writing a fairly lengthy email.  What I have found is that kids are basically doing 2 things, not protecting themselves and other while they are online and they are not utilizing their class time in the most efficient manner.

I have started to adopt belief that in 1:1 environments you have to make the students the owner, which in a way has happened, but they are not being responsible with their ownership.  Teachers and students are both struggling and despite the great things I have seen I am also growning more concerned about the validity of the 1:1 option.

Just because I thought I actually got my point across in the letter while keeping it short I have copied it here.  I sent it out over 3 days to all 1:1 students.
1.  Responsibility
We have had the laptops for a good bit of time and I think its time for a refresher on using the laptops.
First off, the laptops are a wonderful tool and open up a lot of avenues for creation, exploring and learning that you would not normally have access to.  However, there is also a negative side to things and that is where I am seeing things going at times and this has me a little concerned.
The laptops are a privilege and have been embraced by our staff as a great way to enhance instruction.  The teachers here at the schools do an amazing job everyday in trying to create an environment that is challenging, and at the same time, if you put in the effort, create an environment for you to be successful.
How you choose to utilize your time and the time you are on your laptop is up to you.  But don’t look at your grades or report cards and then question the grades you are getting.  You make the choice to do your work or chat, you make the choice to research for a project or to play games.
Think of things in terms of focus.  How good is the work you are doing if you are focused on a conversation in chat?  How can you verify your research is accurate and not copied/stolen if you are focused on a game?
All the opportunities for your success is in your hands, it is your responsibility to make the choice of how you take advantage of those opportunities; you and you alone are responsible for your learning. 
2.  Respect
Please be conscious about your interactions while online.  When you are posting online, I want you think about these three questions when you are posting something online.
1.     Is it necessary?
2.     Is it true?
3.     Is it kind?
If you answer No to any of these three questions, do not post it.  Anything that you post about others that is untrue, harassing or viewed as bullying by the reader can lead to consequences for you.
The online world offers the ability for us to feel anonymous.  The key word being FEEL.  Nothing on the web is free, nor is it anonymous.  The opposite is true, everything you do online is documented and most of the time you agree to this happening.  When you signed up for your Facebook or Twitter accounts and agreed to the Terms of Service, which gave them the right to record everything you do.
Every time you post something on Facebook, Twitter, or any other site you are socially sharing with, it is time stamped, logged, and origination point is recorded.  That means, when I posted on Twitter yesterday, someone at Twitter can look at the data and with a little work see at 9:30am, I was at 912 Woodland Av, Riceville, Iowa on my computer and posted “blah blah.”
Ever wonder why you see adds on Facebook that are about things you like or interest you?  That is because Facebook tracks your online actions. (All online business do this, not just Facebook)  This results in your browsing actions and history being sold to advertising companies by Facebook.
So please respect yourself and what you are doing online and also be careful to not give out to much personal information about yourself and others. 
3.  Bullying
This goes along with the respect from my previous communication, but merits some direct discussion, as there has been more and more focus in the media.  Bullying exists, unfortunate as it is; we have to get it out in the open.  It is there and now what do we do about it?
First, go back to the 3 questions:
1.     Is it necessary?
2.     Is it true?
3.     Is it kind?
If what you are posting does not answer yes for these three questions, do not post it.
You have to remember that your typing does not carry your tone.  If you are face to face talking with someone, you use facial expressions, your voice will change in tone and pitch and most people will understand what you are tying to say.  When someone is reading what you have typed, they are taking the words as they see them. They don’t get to hear you tone and pitch.  Always remember you have no control over the people who are reading what you have said.
Also remember that the Internet is forever and everywhere.  What you post about someone or if you post something derogatory, racist, or sexist, it may and likely will come back and have an effect in your future.
Show respect to others, even you do not like or agree with them, you can show mutual respect by allow others to have maintain their pride.

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