Tag Archives: Education

How Does Google Affect Your Brain?


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TechCrunch had a great title for a recent article: “Just Because Google Exists Doesn’t Mean You Should Stop Asking People Things.” We get annoyed when co-workers or bosses ask us silly questions that they themselves could have Googled. However, the bigger issue is whether or not we are so reliant on Google that we are dumbing ourselves down? The Pope thinks that the Internet is increasing the risk of a “sense of solitude and disorientation” and basically numbing us, calling it an “educational emergency.”

Lamarr has to agree with TechCrunch AND the Pope. Google has become a verb, and it’s making us all a little “dumber.” We are supposed to actually learn things. Instead, we are relying on Google to tell us the answer without ever knowing how to arrive at that answer ourselves. How is this expanding our minds?

What are your thoughts?

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Public Schools Required to Teach Anti-Cyberbullying Practices

Many public schools in the United States will soon be required to educate students about the dangers of cyberbullying and how to conduct themselves online. All schools which are funded with the Schools and Libraries Program – otherwise known as E-Rate – fund will be bound by these regulations. Grantees are already required to run some kind of online safety education class and to deploy filters “to protect students from accessing inappropriate content,” as stated by the Federal Communications Commission.

“‘Cyberbullying’ is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones,” according to one Cyberbullying website. The Cyberbullying Research Center defines the crime as as “incidents where adolescents use technology, usually computers or cell phones, to harass, threaten, humiliate, or otherwise hassle their peers.”

What types of behaviors are considered to be Cyberbullying?

  • Threatening e-mails
  • Nasty instant messaging session
  • Repeated notes sent to the cell phone
  • A website set up to mock others
  • ‘Borrowing’ someone’s screen name and pretending to be them while posting a message
  • Forwarding supposedly private messages, pictures, or video to others
  • Recording secret videos of a person doing something they wouldn’t want the world to know or see, and then uploading it for just that purpose

Another way to bully others online is to create the never-ending “Who’s Hot?” polls, and the “Who is the biggest (fill in the blank)?” polls. Such questions are often very offensive to others and are yet another way that kids can “bully” other kids online.

It’s about time that schools were forced to implement education such as this. There are far too many instances of Cyberbullying in the news… and we shouldn’t have to see any at all. What are your thoughts? Do you agree that this should be talked about in the schools – in addition to being discussed at home?

How To Help Public Education


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Trish Millines-Dziko founded Technology Access Foundation in 1996 after spending 15 years as a developer, designer and manager in the high tech industry. Her successful career brought her to Microsoft in the mid-1980s, just as the pioneering software company was set to become a worldwide brand.

In addition to her work at TAF, Trish remains a committed, proactive leader and serves on the boards of several organizations that focus on children and education. Trish has received dozens of local and national awards for her work improving the educational opportunities for children of color.

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Have a Glass of Wine to Help Young Readers

Twitter’s Fledgling Initiative is about to give us all a good reason to have a glass of wine. Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams have joined with Crushpad to create limited edition bottles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to benefit Room to Read, an international effort to ensure all children have access to schools and educational materials.

You can watch this video to learn more about the Fledgling Initiative and the important work of Room to Read:

Whether you want to try the 2009 Fledgling Pinot Noir or the 2009 Fledgling Chardonnay, you can pre-order bottles online now. Each bottle of wine will cost $20, with $5 of the cost going directly to Room to Read. Hurry though! Bottling begins August 25th, and it’s going to go fast!

Social Media in Education

This is a guest blog post written by my assistant and Community Manager, Kat Armstrong.

After spending the past few days writing about the new iPhone, my brain was absolutely shot. Approximately 90% of what I write every day deals with technology news, gadgets and companies. About an hour ago, I hit a brick wall. I had zero ideas floating around in my noggin. I couldn’t bring myself to write about the iPhone yet again. I sat here staring at the screen as I frantically casted about for a subject – any subject – to talk about next.

I decided to fire up my handy-dandy TweetDeck application. Reaching out to my followers, I asked for ideas. One good friend suggested I talk about the uses of social media in education. That sounded interesting, and my mind began to churn. I fired off another tweet, asking “STUDENTS: How has/does the use of social media help your education (NOT your social life!)?” I also repeated the question in Chris’ live chat room.

The replies poured in, and I was dismayed. I heard from nearly one hundred students of all ages and education levels. I haven’t done the math, but I’d feel safe in guessing that approximately 5% of those answering claim that they make use of social media in their educational lives. The rest of them said they only use it to catch up with friends, chat about their day and play games.

In the age of Web 2.0, why aren’t students using social media in the classroom? We already know that Twitter is the fastest way to find information on breaking news stories. Blogs can be used to encourage creative writing and proper grammar skills. Cramster is a Q&A board much like our new Lockergnome site. However, its sole purpose lies in bringing together pupils of all ages to help each other with homework and research. Sites such as Box and Dropbox allow learners and educators to share files together quickly and easily.

At the very least, sites such as Twitter, Facebook and even (*shudder*) MySpace can be used to create discussion in the classroom. Teachers can pull news stories from any of those sources. Students can ask questions and facilitate deeper discussion after reading something on one of the thousands of SM sites. Professors can institute peer reviews on writing projects. Kids can locate an expert in a field they are interested in, and “shadow” them on the Web. Geotagging can be used to target and find information about places that are being studied.

The possibilities are, quite honestly, endless. I certainly hope that my quick Twitter poll is not indicative of the use (or rather – the lack) of social media in an educational setting. Will someone prove me wrong? I’d love to hear your stories of how your school or college has been incorporating the use of social media into the curriculum.

Kat can be found in any number of places around the Web. You can catch her on Twitter, Facebook, and of course on every site in our community. If you’re lucky, you may even find her occasionally rambling about something on her personal blog.

SUPERAntiSpyware Educational License Special

In the past, we’ve been fortunate to offer discounts on SUPERAntiSpyware to our readers, and the response has always been great. SAS is an excellent product, one which Kat highly recommends. Today I learned that they are offering a very special license for educational institutions, and I wanted to make sure that it is passed along to you. If you are a teacher or administrator, you’re going to want to check this out. If you’re a student, why not show this post to your principal?

From now through August 1, 2010, all SUPERAntiSpyware multi-user licenses sold to educational clients will be upgraded to a lifetime subscription with no renewal fees at no additional charge. “Economic hardship and budget cuts are an everyday reality for school systems at all levels,” said Nick Skrepetos, founder of SUPERAntiSpyware.com. “We highly value the role that education plays in communities worldwide, and we want to support schools in their efforts to provide quality education while balancing their tight and shrinking budgets. Managing high-priced software renewal fees is simply not practical for schools in today’s economic climate. We want to help.”

Additionally, SUPERAntiSpyware will include one Technician’s License for its new portable scanner with each educational license at no additional cost. The portable scanner harnesses the same powerful anti-spyware engine as the Professional Edition of SUPERAntiSpyware and references a spyware definition database that is updated at least once per day.

To take part in this amazing offer, simply send them an email. The danger of malware infections pose a huge threat to the educational system, one which could potentially cost millions of dollars to eradicate. Without proper protection, schools are at risk that can not only rob them of instructional time, but may also require them to pay expensive repair bills.

Do Computer Majors Mean Anything Anymore?


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The job market is always changing. Computer program majors often find themselves having a tough time after graduation. It may sound insane due to the number of computer-related fields that are are there. Much of it depends on where you live, and what your exact area of focus is.

You cannot possibly try to get a “general” computer degree anymore. Pick a specific area that you are good at or interested and focus on that. If you’re a developer, go develop! If you’re more of a networking whiz, you know what you need to do. There are SO MANY hundreds of possibilities. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face by choosing too broad of a major.

A consulting route isn’t a bad idea, but you honestly have to be REALLY good at what you’re trying to do. However, becoming a developer is where it’s at right now in MY mind. The other areas won’t disappear any time soon, no. But look at all of the dev opportunities out there right now. That’s the hottest and most in-demand area.

Network like crazy every chance you get. I say that about pretty much any type of career, but it holds even more true of us Geeks. Social connections enable you to find the path before the path is eliminated.

Most importantly, love what you do. Don’t choose an area of study just because you think you’ll make good money. Sure, that’s an important consideration. You have to support yourself. But if you hate what you do, you’re not going to do it for long. Know where your passions lie, and choose your path based off of them.

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Starfall for Beginning Readers


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During Gnomedex, we held an open mic period where attendees could come onto the stage and pass along resources that the rest of us might not know about. Now, I know that this particular video will not interest many of our younger followers. However, it is a FANTASTIC resource for those of you with young children in your lives! If you don’t have kids of your own, forward this on to someone who does. I promise that they’ll thank you for it.

Starfall can help a child learn to read, or improve upon the skills they’ve already gained, by using phonics. There are several different stages on the site, including ones for children just learning their ABCs all the way up to activities for kids who can already read basic words and sentences.

This is an excellent way to boost your child’s skills in a fun environment.

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Should School be Taught in the Cloud?

On March 5th, the U.S. Department of Education released its National Educational Technology Plan, which they named Transforming Education: Learning Powered by Technology. Some of the recommendations made in the report include things like having a computing device for every teacher – and student – so that they can access the Internet from both school and home, as well as wanting schools to embrace cloud computing, Creative Commons and open-source technologies.

The report focuses on what they are calling “21st Century Computing”. As a way to transform education, the department states that the plan is to “engage and empower learning experiences for all learners… by leveraging the power of technology to provide personalized learning instead of a one-size-fits all curriculum.” Overall, the plan calls for a challenge to the normal model of having an isolated teacher in every class. Instead, they want to promote the ideas of “always on” learning tools, with online communities for the teachers and students.

I know that this plan cannot possibly be enacted in schools across the country overnight. However, I’m excited to see things moving in this direction finally. What do you think? Is this a massive step forward for education in the United States?

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What Place Does Social Media Have in our Schools?

I came across a very interesting post a little while ago, over on Geeks. The author, Will, is asking our opinions as to what place social media should play in our educational systems. Will mentioned that his high school principal has asked students for ideas as to how social media could be incorporated into education in general. He then asks for your input and ideas. I’d love to see a high rate of responses to this thread, which is why I chose to highlight it here.

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter isn’t a fad that will fade away any time soon. It’s important, it’s real, and it’s here to stay. I do have to point out something that Will said at the end of his post. He stated that he is all for social media in the schools, but that he doesn’t want to allow them access to his privacy. That is a common misconception amongst many people today. You need to remember that anything you put online is public. There is no privacy when it comes to places such as Twitter. Once something is online, it’s there for the World to see. Even at a young age, you always need to be cognizant of that fact when posting anything in any place. Things you say and do online can – and WILL – come back to bite you in the proverbial ass someday if you aren’t careful.

What are your thoughts? Instead of posting them here on the blog, please post them over on Geeks as a response to Will’s questions. Let’s see how much community participation we can get on this, and show his principal a thing or two! Will’s post wasn’t the only thought-provoking thing going on in our community today. Hopefully, you haven’t missed out on any of the action!

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