Exposing children to technology

Exposing Children to Technology?: “LabelThis asks: ‘While I’m not a huge fan of immersing children in technology, there is a certain point at which you must expose them to the tools that will help them be successful in the world.'”

Good question from one of the readers of slashdot — what sorts of technologies do you expose your children to, your students to? What guidelines should families, schools, and teachers use to determine how much or how little technology children should be exposed to. I echo this author’s experience in that computers were made available to me at a very young age and that decision by my parents dramatically influenced my life and calling. What do you think?

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Sharing at the HigherEdBlogCon

Just a reminder about Brendon's and my presentation at the HigherEdBlogCon happening today. We're sharing on our use of the Swiki wiki in higher ed. We also met with Robert French a week or two ago and he's posted a podcast of our interview. Finally, I've also posted a brief screencast showing you how to setup your own Swiki.

How does the Social Web impact undergrads preparing for a teaching career?

The social web provides an opportunity for users of myspace and Facebook to get ahead of the game. Whether they realize it or not, they are gaining experience with web-based collaboration tools that enable individuals to communicate and share information that is important to them. While a lot is being said that is negative about myspace and Facebook, there are perhaps untapped resources lying dormant in these sites.

Blogging also provides a very low-threshold means of enabling personal web-based publishing. One's voice can be heard globally, which frankly could be a scary thing. Are we thinking about the privacy issues of posting our personal thoughts for the entire planet to read? Are we aware of the fact that our future boss or spouse may be reading our blog? Despite the concern about exposure online, these tools are the realization of some very old-school online communities that have been around since the 80's (do you remember the BBS?). Today, online communities are emerging within a global context, rather than a context centered around a local dialing area code.

So, as you're preparing for a teaching career, how are you using tools of the social web to build collaborative communities of learners amongts your friends in the teacher ed program? Are you thinking about how you might transform recreational use into pedagogical use?

Why do I ask? Because 2nd graders are asking to start their own blogs, they IM on gaming sites, and know how to play multi-player online games. Today's undergrads will be teaching students who grew up with a mouse in their hand who are more familiar with Reader Rabbit than with Dick & Jane. Are you prepared to lead 2nd graders who are digital natives?

Along these lines of transforming technology into pedagogical tools, take a look at the following websites for more information about how you can use blogging as an electronic portfolio or resume.

A new perspective on educational technology

I was talking with one of my colleagues about her educational perspectives class as I’m going to be sharing with them next week. It seems to me that technology and providing access to technology is a way to open up doors and opportunities to people. The critical thing is that as educators, we must change our perspective regarding the types of tools that we are using. For instance, there is quite a movement underway right now in the whole arena of digital storytelling. Much of this centers around the use of, you guess it, Apple products. It’s brilliant really…Apple has repositioned itself and people are flocking to iLife as the solution for communicating and presenting video, images, and sounds. Now, I can’t talk much as I have an iBook and love using the Mac OS, yet I think we need to step back a bit for the sake of those who can’t afford the premium that Apple charges to play.

So what am I talking about? Things like Linux and Open Office. Really geeky things that could serve to empower those with old PCs laying around their school. For those with the cash to pay for a Microsoft Campus Agreement, life is good. You get Windows and Office on any organizational computer. However, what do you do if your are a struggling district that has just slashed all of your art and music departments to pay the bills? This is where open source steps in. Installing an operating system like Edubuntu enables anyone with an older PC (500 MHz processor & 128MB of RAM) to install a reasonably secure, virus and spyware free, visually appealing, and functional operating system complete with an office suite and other educational software.

This is the new perspective that I think educators need to hear about. Very few people know about the opportunities that open source software holds. What do you think? How are you using open solutions in education?