Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Facebook Doesn’t Seem to Care About Kids

June 5, 2012

It seems as though Facebook cares more about indoctrinating more young lemmings onto their database than protecting the safety and wellbeing of our children. I have stated before my firm belief that children under 13 do not have the maturity to warrant the privilege of having a Facebook page.

You may argue that many 13 year-olds defy that rule and go and get one anyway. This is unfortunate, and something their parents ought to take an interest in, but at least in this instance there are laws that are being broken. It would be decidedly worse if the age requirement rule was abandoned altogether.

A new proposal to allow children under the age of 13 to have legal access to Facebook is the first step in a concerted effort to rescinding these important regulations:

Facebook Inc. is developing technology that would allow children younger than 13 years old to use the social-networking site under parental supervision, a step that could help the company tap a new pool of users for revenue but also inflame privacy concerns.

Mechanisms being tested include connecting children’s accounts to their parents’ and controls that would allow parents to decide whom their kids can “friend” and what applications they can use, people who have spoken with Facebook executives about the technology said. The under-13 features could enable Facebook and its partners to charge parents for games and other entertainment accessed by their children, the people said.

Facebook currently bans users under 13. But many kids lie about their ages to get accounts, putting the company in an awkward position regarding a federal law that requires sites to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting personal data from children.

Any attempt to give younger kids access to the site would be extraordinarily sensitive, given regulators’ already heightened concerns about how Facebook protects user privacy. But Facebook, concerned that it faces reputational and regulatory risks from children already using the service despite its rules, believes it has little choice but to look into ways of establishing controls that could formalize their presence on the site, people familiar with the matter said.

The Overwhelming Challenge of Supervising Childrens’ Online Activity

April 25, 2012

There used to be a standard rule for parents about supervising their childrens’ internet surfing – make sure you take the computer out of their bedroom and into the living room. No longer does this rule work. With the introduction of 3G and 4G technology, lap tops, smartphones and mobile gaming consoles which all connect to the internet, our children can be online without even using a computer.

The challenges for parents are becoming so difficult:

An Ofcom study last year found that 91 per cent of children live in a household with internet access, but that only half of parents of five to 15-year-olds supervised their children’s internet use. A further three million children aged eight to 15 have a smartphone, according to a YouGov survey published in January.

Increasingly, there are fears about the content children are accessing, whether deliberately or by mistake, when they are unsupervised online.

Last week, a cross-party group of MPs warned that it was too easy for children to view pornography. They called for legislation to force internet providers to block access automatically to pornographic websites.

The potential for teenagers to outwit their parents is frequently used as an argument for network-level filtering. Its supporters argue that too many parents lack the technical know-how to secure their computers properly and too few will opt in to a filtering system that is not compulsory.

Set against that are free speech concerns: is it right that an internet provider decides which content is acceptable to be viewed and which should be banned? How do they decide what constitutes “adult” content – and what happens if they get it wrong?

Further, as Nicholas Lansman, of the Internet Service Providers Association, argues, such technology can give parents a false sense of security, leading to less active monitoring of what children are up to online. Filters can fail or be circumvented, and left to their own devices, teenagers will find a way to get what they want.

Technology can help but it can only go so far. Parents must set boundaries and discuss the risks with their children.

Tony Neate, chief executive of Get Safe Online, says: “It is very important to talk to your child about being safe online, taking them through the risks and what they mean. This includes not just your home PC, but anywhere where internet access is involved – including mobile phones and game consoles.

“Don’t be afraid to ask your own questions to get a sense of what they are getting up to online.”

Our Children and the Disgusting Climate of Fear

March 6, 2012

I love my job but if the Government ever forces me to scare my students in the name of “science” I will plainly refuse. I would sooner lose my job than transfer the negatively geared, sensationalistic, propaganda, intended at frightening children into believing that the world is going to go to bits because of man-made global warming.

I am more than happy to help motivate my students to care for their environment and reduce their own carbon footprints – this is a positive message. However, the Government, United Nations and various scientific agencies have no interest in positive messages. Their game is to fill our young impressionable children with fear and dread. These people believe that a nightmare in the name of science makes the experience worthwhile.

Just watch this advertisement below. This is no underground commercial. This was played at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. It is absolutely appalling! It has as much scientific value as a mound of cow turd! How dare they use children like that. What manipulative cowards they are! Who needs to communicate truths when you can terrorise children?

Anthony Sharwood is right in his assessment of this advertisement and the message we our sending our impressionable young:

One of the worst things I’ve seen in ages was the Copenhagen Climate Summit opening film, where a small child has terrible, apocalyptic nightmares after learning about human-induced climate change.

He is also correct in offering a much more palatable alternative in teaching the challenges of conserving our environment.

My six year old daughter has been learning about Earth Hour at school. Want to know how to really inspire her and others like her to save the world? Get them to love it, not fear it. Allow them to develop their own sense of environmental responsibility, rather than indoctrinating them to feel part of a “problem”.

I’m not a perfect parent. If anyone has an IKEA-style parenthood manual complete with helpful Swedish pictograms, please loan it to me. But one piece of parenting I think I’ve gotten right is instilling a deep love of nature in both my kids.

Together, we’ve bushwalked, skied and swum in some of Australia’s most beautiful locations. We’ve thrown summer snowballs on a New Zealand volcano and caught (and then released) tadpoles in a clear, Blue Mountains stream.

At home, I teach my kids about clouds and the wind direction, and always Google the birds that alight on our backyard trees, so that we can observe their habits armed with a few facts. How many city kids do you know that tell the difference between a white cockatoo and a Corella?

One day, I hope my daughter becomes an environmental scientist or activist who helps save the world. More likely, she’ll live a regular life with a regular job, and that’ll be fine too. Either way, I’m sure she’ll choose to pursue a lifestyle of modest consumption and environmental light-stepping.

If ever called on to teach this subject in such a negative way I will flatly refuse. If they force an educational pack on me I will immediately throw it in the bin (recycle bin, of course).

One wonders why those investing time into spreading the message about our carbon footprint consistently put their foot in it.

The Problem With IT in the Classroom

February 19, 2012

The problem with the wonderfully diverse technologies available to teachers is that it can sometimes breed lazy teaching. A SmartBoard doesn’t make a teacher. The challenge for teachers is not to rely on the technologies at hand, but to simply use them in conjunction with a well-developed lesson.

When reports show that computers don’t make a difference to learning, I wonder if they are really saying that teachers haven’t learned to capitalise from them yet:

Kids love using computers and gadgets in the classroom but the technology has not made them better learners, suggests a new report.

The non-profit Media Awareness Network interviewed a small sample of plugged-in elementary and high school teachers from across Canada and found there’s work to be done to better incorporate technology into schools.

The report suggests many students aren’t really as good at using the Internet as it may seem. While it’s assumed today’s kids are quick to learn how to use computers, the authors found many students are great at social media or finding something to watch on YouTube but their digital skills end there.

Teachers reported that some of their kids had a hard time effectively using search engines like Google and weren’t able to consistently sort out valuable sources from the clutter on the web.

“Digital literacy is not about technical proficiency but about developing the critical thinking skills that are central to lifelong learning and citizenship,” the report states.

The finding wasn’t particularly surprising, said Matthew Johnson, director of education for the Media Awareness Network.

“It’s something we’ve seen before but this really underlined it. I always like to draw a distinction between literacy and fluency,” he explained.

“When we watch a young person sit down on the computer and open a dozen different screens and do a dozen different things at once, we’re really seeing (digital) fluency — the same fluency that lets a 10-year-old talk a mile a minute. But it doesn’t necessarily show genuine literacy, it doesn’t show they understand what they’re doing, it doesn’t even show necessarily that they’re skilled at what they’re doing.”

Are High-Tech Classrooms Just a Lot of Hype?

February 4, 2012

There is a current obsession with technology in the classroom. Even so, I would have thought that it was only sensible to bring as much technology as possible into the classroom. After all, we are trying to help children develop life skills. In today’s world technology is all around us. It is integral that our students have a familiarity if not competency with the latest in technology.

Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times disagrees:
Something sounded familiar last week when I heard U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski make a huge pitch for infusing digital technology into America’s classrooms.

Every schoolchild should have a laptop, they said. Because in the near future, textbooks will be a thing of the past.

Where had I heard that before? So I did a bit of research, and found it. The quote I recalled was, “Books will soon be obsolete in the schools…. Our school system will be completely changed in 10 years.”

the nirvana sketched out by Duncan and Genachowski at last week’s Digital Learning Day town hall was erected upon a sizable foundation of commercially processed claptrap. Not only did Genachowski in his prepared remarks give a special shout out to Apple and the iPad, but the event’s roster of co-sponsors included Google, Comcast, AT&T, Inteland other companies hoping to see their investments in Internet or educational technologies pay off.

How much genuine value is there in fancy educational electronics? Listen to what the experts say.

“The media you use make no difference at all to learning,” says Richard E. Clark, director of the Center for Cognitive Technology at USC. “Not one dang bit. And the evidence has been around for more than 50 years.”

Almost every generation has been subjected in its formative years to some “groundbreaking” pedagogical technology. In the ’60s and ’70s, “instructional TV was going to revolutionize everything,” recalls Thomas C. Reeves, an instructional technology expert at the University of Georgia. “But the notion that a good teacher would be just as effective on videotape is not the case.”

Many would-be educational innovators treat technology as an end-all and be-all, making no effort to figure out how to integrate it into the classroom. “Computers, in and of themselves, do very little to aid learning,” Gavriel Salomon of the University of Haifa and David Perkins of Harvard observed in 1996. Placing them in the classroom “does not automatically inspire teachers to rethink their teaching or students to adopt new modes of learning.”

I am a bit in the middle on this issue. I am in favour of all types of technology in the classroom, just not as a replacement for standard teaching. Those schools that are dominated by devises, lose out from the benefits of teacher/student interaction. But that is not to say that i-Pads in the classroom wont make any difference. It just means that those i-Pads are not more important to education than a quality teacher.

101 Ways for Teachers to Cope With Stress

January 24, 2012

101 useful tips from the wonderful blog To read the whole list follow this link. Below is just a taste:

Organization Tools

Staying organized will also beat back stress, as you’ll be able to meet deadlines, remember projects and field trips, and have more time for yourself.

  1. Google Calendar: Set up events and schedules for lesson plan submission dates, in-service workshops and more by using Google Calendar.
  2. ubernote: This cute tool lets you dump lists, contact information, event plans, special project ideas, field trip materials and more into several different notepads that keep you organized and on track.
  3. Notesake: This tool is great for teachers who are pursuing a higher degree, going to workshops or earning more credit hours for their certification. You can take notes faster and organize your notes so that you’ll be able to find them once you want to plan a lesson.
  4. eFax: Keep your runs to the teachers’ lounge to a minimum by using eFax, which lets you send out permission reports, progress reports and anything else you need signed over the Internet.
  5. Backpack: This very popular tool lets you “centralize and share information” with other teachers in your department. You can maintain a department calendar, share pages and a to-do list.
  6. Toodledo: Toodledo sends reminders to your mobile phone so you never forget a task.
  7. Project Keep your principal and supervisors updated with new project information or your certification process with this collaboration tool that lets you organize your progress online.
  8. Evernote: Use this beta tool to capture images and websites on your computer or your mobile phone. You can then organize your notes and presentations for class wherever you are.
  9. Tools and Templates: If you don’t have time to design your own certificates, game tools, or work sheets, pull from this list of tools and templates for teachers.
  10. Google for Educators: Here you’ll find some of the best available Google tools and apps just for teachers.

Students Should be Treated Like People Not Numbers

December 6, 2011

I just read a piece too good to cut into excerpts. It’s written by Sheila French and is about the way she has learnt to approach parent-teacher conferences. She discusses the need to put grades and data to a side and instead, concentrate on talking about the child.

Below is the entire article. It is absolutely worth reading:

In elementary school Parent-Teacher Conferences come and go every year. This year I tried something new with the parents of my third graders at De Laveaga Elementary School. Rather than discussing test scores, grades and assessments I told the families I would like to talk about their child as a PERSON.

There’s no doubt about it, instruction in the kindergarten through high school is data driven. Our students have ID numbers, are assessed at least three times a year, and all of their data is kept on line. Our students are ranked anywhere from far below basic, basic, proficient to advanced.

But how are they as people? 

Are they able to work well with others?

Do they have the skills to make friends and create lasting relationships that will be needed throughout life?

Or our these children little turning into little robots who have “apps” for everything from studying their times tables to practicing for the SAT’s? Do these children of today need to memorize anything when they can run to their laptop and “Google” something?

I say there’s way too much emphasis put on test scores and grades. Let us step back and take a closer look at what our goals are as educators and parents. I don’t think I stand alone when I say that we would like to educate and parent children who have work-ethics, life skills and are well-rounded.

If you go to talk to your child’s teacher, go prepared to talk about your WHOLE child.  Go with a list (just like you’d go to the doctor), ready to ask questions about your child’s social behavior inside the classroom as well as outside on the playground. 

Before your parent-teacher conference, I suggest that you take the time to sit down and talk to your children. Ask them about their favorite classes. Where do they struggle? Do they have friends? Who are they? What do they do at recess? Of course these questions are not limited to pre-conference discussions. They are good conversations to have with your children on an on-going basis.

The playground is just as important as the classroom.

Chances are, the teacher will be more than happy to share some insight about your child as a whole person, not just another test score. Parents, take this opportunity to learn about your child from someone who cares about your child’s social, emotional and education development. This will ensure that our students become GOOD people even in this crazy data-driven world.

Ms. French has echoed many of the points I have made on this blog (although she writes more eloquently). She is absolutely right to point out that the playground is as important as the classroom.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have.

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