Internet of Things: HowStuffWorks explains…

I’ve been hearing about the internet of things for quite a while now, and though I had some idea of what was meant by it, I thought I would look it up to see if my assumptions were correct. Where did I go? To those smart people at Howstuffworks, who made this very informative (and a little terrifying, I won’t lie) video on the subject:

What do you think? Is it exciting to think about your living room knowing your mood/diet plan/schedule? Or is it kind of terrifying to think about how we are being reduced to constant streams of data being fed into the devices around us, especially since this data will most probably come to roost in the gaping maw of the corporations who sell us such devices in the first place?

These issues, which encompass both futurist ideas and issue of digital citizenship, should be talked about with the younger generation: the potential and the pitfalls to our privacy are enormous and will be felt the most keenly by this upcoming generation. Sparking an ongoing discussion in our classes on these topics is the first place to start!

Digital Natives, Yet Strangers to the Web

This is a very salient article on the need to integrate digital citizenship skills in the curriculum. I have been thinking about this for a long time, even made a schedule of ways we could do this, but Mr. Loewy, the teacher featured in this article, has designed a whole curriculum.

This isn’t a new idea, and in fact, we have some very good Canadian initiatives to bridge the gap like the OSAPAC Digital Citizenship page, Common Sense Media and Social Smarts.

But if there is one take away from this article is that even though youth spend a lot of their time online, does not necessarily mean they are Digitally literate. I will conclude with this quote from Danah Boyd (also quoted in the article):

Teens will not become critical contributors to this [Internet] ecosystem simply because they were born in an age when these technologies were pervasive.

Neither teens nor adults are monolithic, and there is no magical relation between skills and age. Whether in school or in informal settings, youth need opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to engage with temporary technology effectively and meaningfully. Becoming literate in a networked age requires hard work, regardless of age.- Danah Boyd

Today’s schools are focusing on boosting kids’ technological proficiency and warning them about the perils of the web. But something critical is missing from this education.


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Teen charged after using teacher’s admin password to access school computer

This is a cautionary tale:  a good reminder to be careful with our passwords and our computers. I think we forget that there is sensitive information on our computers – we leave our screens for a second with a confidential email open and anyone can see it.

He’s been charged with trespassing on his school’s computer system after snooping away an administrative password and swapping a teacher’s desktop wallpaper with an image of two men kissing.


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The NFB’s Seven Digital deadly Sins

How come I never knew about this? The NFB did a series called The Seven Digital Deadly Sins. I was expecting the usual fare of young people talking about their experiences online (which is totally valid, mind you). What I got was Gary Shteyngart talking about how he is now 87% digital content and relegates his social media to his Dachsund, or Josie Long talking about how she has given up having boyfriend for Twitter.

It is a beautifully designed website with interactive quizzes, articles and hilarious, darkly funny (and wonderfully brief- all of them last for about 2:25 minutes) videos about our digital sinning. Check it out!


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Free Technology for Teachers: 5 Email Etiquette Tips for Students – Some for Teachers Too

The article below contains a friendly and fun info video about email etiquette for students. Almost more interesting though is the presentation software they used, powtoon. A cursory look does not reveal any iOS platforms however, but perhaps it works online on the iPad? Yes! Stay tuned for a more in depth review of Powtoon!


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In Honour of Career Day: Only Those Who Dare – Motivating Kids To Think Like Entrepreneurs

I love this idea. More and more I am interested in incorporating futurist (as in envisioning a better future) into the thinking of our students.  Even in our own adult thinking- we so often get bogged down with everything that is wrong with our world instead of trying to imagine/invent/design models/prototypes/systems to better them.From something as simple as the no-spill cup for Parkinson’s patients illustrated in the article, as designing a more inclusive, less misogynist society, thinking outside the proverbial box is as important as ever.

Innovative design crosses over all aspects of education. The American Society for Innovation Design in Education, or ASIDE, seeks to infuse curriculum with new approaches to teaching and thinking. Integrating the design of information into the daily conversation is an essential part of the teacher’s toolkit and the purpose of the ASIDE blog. The underpinning of innovation and educational design is based on looking at the information available and communicating meaning for a world of learners. Thinking like a designer can transform the way children learn. ASIDE’s goal is to bring together as much information, resources and supportive scholarship in one place for teaching and learning.


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Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly

Those apps that we download, get our students to sign up for and use – how much do we know about their security? About how they use the student data?The article below highlights an issue  we have not thought about before as we try to keep up with the massive potential as well as challenges that integrating technology in a mindful way poses.

When reading about the big school boards in the U.S. (who actually have someone called the Chief Technology Officer for the districts) and how they are trying to get a handle on teachers using un-vetted apps in the classroom (as the app companies are marketing directly to the teachers, often offering their product for free at the beginning), it occurs to me that the challenge will be how to foster an atmosphere of open, spontaneous exploration while still keeping student privacy and safety in the foreground. I can see how a top-heavy vetting process could get cumbersome and be a deterrent for teachers who are already reticent to use the technology.

Or perhaps we could demand the onus of privacy and safety be put squarely on the educational software companies- perhaps they cannot call themselves an educational app without meeting certain criteria in the realm of data security?

Any ideas? This will definitely go on the agenda of our next IT meeting.

Apps and other software can put powerful teaching tools at teachers’ fingertips, but concerns abound over data security, effectiveness and marketing.


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