A Computer Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Posted on 15 September 2010 Wednesday


One thing I’ve learned is that it’s very easy to criticize the decisions of policy makes. What’s not so easy is to have a larger vision that takes in the needs of a wide range of people. Just as an example, it was easy for me to criticize decisions to not support Google products by a school system because they felt unable to control student made content in that environment. Sounds crazy in this day and age, doesn’t it? The lack of control allows students to bully, antagonize and communicate other violence on the web.

I would so much rather see an environment that uses social media in the classroom along with conversations that teach students how to conduct civil discourse, validate sources, control one’s online identity and use the tools to gather and share information.

Could using 2.0 technology help fast track 9th graders reading at a 3rd grade reading level? Does the heavy hand of control really teach and protect? Would learning how to communicate in real life improve online communication?

HS Students place in top 5 in national competition

I know what I think, but . . .  I don’t have a larger vision.

Watching these videos found over at LibrariesandTransliteration give me some hope for our kiddos of color. I can’t post the Vimeo videos here daggone it, but do go watch them!  The short clips are from a public forum on digital literacy and children of color held by the United Negro College Fund with sponsorship from the MacArthur Foundation. I particularly liked this video from the event.

This “participation gap” refers to how youth of color engage with digital media. The concern is that they may be using technologies and tools that are less likely to encourage the development of sophisticated skill sets and literacies. Watkins was the keynote speaker at a public forum, “To Be Young Digital and Black,” held at Morehouse College in February and sponsored by the United Negro College Fund with support from the MacArthur Foundation.

He discussed how mobile technology has been one of the unexpected drivers in closing the access gap, but there are questions about the limited opportunities it provides for dynamic engagement and exploration. Watch the video for interviews with forum participants and students, as well as excerpts from Watkins’ talk. For more on this topic, read Spotlight’s interview with Watkins at spotlight.macfound.org/​btr/​entry/​to_be_young_digital_and_black/​.

The forum was the first in a series, “Digital Media and Learning in Multicultural Contexts,” designed to provide arenas for discussion of how youth, especially youth of color, use new digital media and social networking tools.

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Posted in: academia