Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Till We Outnumber Them...

[Podcast Version]

I'd like to start this podcast with a quote from a friend of mine. Ted Nellen is an Internet pioneer and has been teaching Cyber English in New York City since 1994. Ted says what he thinks and this particular quote is typical of his straight forward, thought provoking style.

"There is nothing wrong with MySpace or any other technology. The problem is in ourselves, the adults of this nation as we refuse to learn and pass it on. We have failed to see we are roadkill, unless we wake up and use our expertise to educate our children instead of punishing them by throwing them out of our schools and censor them and stifle them and filter them. They will not be stifled, filtered, censored and we don't get that."

You make not agree with all that Ted says here, but one thing is certain. We have about as much of a chance of stopping kids from using sites like MySpace, Xanga, and FaceBook as our parents had of keeping us from listening to Rock and Roll.

Wake up folks. These networking and blogging sites are a much a part of their life as R&R was and is of ours and theirs. The PEW institute has estimated that 1/3 of all teens have blogs, and what is a typical reaction to blogging in schools? It is to block them and not permit blogging to take place, even under the supervision of a teacher. In my mind, these are the decisions of ignorance and fear. Too many educators are ignorant of the transformational power of blogging. Too many administrators go into an automatic litigation protection mode. We just can't do that!

As Ted said, we as educators have to learn about the technology so that we can guide the student in responsible, productive, engaging educational uses of blogging. Information and lessons about blogging will soon be available at the WiredSafety site. We are still in the early stages of developing or educational material and what is up is still in draft form, but even in draft form I think it's important that people have access. If you want to take a peek at what we are doing, visit http://www.wiredsafety.org/wiredlearning

Arlo Guthrie tells a story of two rabbits who get chased into a hollow log by a bunch of dogs. While the dogs are jumping up and down, barking, and making a lot of noise, the mother rabbit looks at the father rabbit and say, "Poppa, it doesn't look like we are going to get out of this one."

To this, poppa replies, "Don't worry. We'll just stay here until we outnumber them!'

While educators and parents are barking, jumping up and down and making noise, the teens are populating the blogsphere. The are outnumbering us and are in danger of overrunning us. We have to act appropriately and responsibly. Educators must learn, supervise, teach responsible use and join the blogging population. Parents must learn, supervise and be active parents.

Until next time, this is Art Wolinsky helping to make you Cyber Safe and Information Literate.

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