Posts Tagged ‘internet’

The Problem with Overexposure

February 28, 2008

The problem with exposure is overexposure. How can teachers create safe spaces for children? For that matter how can parents? The internet is a Pandora’s Box, alluring, mysterious and enlightening. Is the incidence of occasionally unfiltered audio of video a threat to internet use in elementary schools? angelDo the benefits of internet use outweigh the pitfalls? Several posts ago I commented on the surprising use of youtube by young students. I didn’t teach them about it nor have I even even mentioned it because I don’t feel it is a safe place for unaccompanied minors. Our county has excellent filters and they certainly seems to be 99% effective in eliminating unwanted material but the filters can fail and students can run the risk of overexposure. Take Google images, regardless of the setting an search on any term may result in image overexposure! It happened to me one time when I was searching for computers. Mixed among the computers was a random photo labeled computer but without any computer in view.

Media Specialists have grappled with questionable content since the dawn of libraries. Parents dissaporve of some books for religious, political or content about the human anatomy. Some illustrations or photographs may depict strong sequences of violence. I have been on the critical end of this debate when my own children were in elementary school. In fact a middle school teacher showed the class an R-rated movie without parent consent. It was Schindler’s List. My daughter loved her teacher. I felt the woman had exercised poor judgment. I emailed the principal and let her know that perhaps the teacher was not aware of the rules concerning movies. She thanked me and handled it discreetly. No one lost their job. In fact it was a teachable moment for me and my daughter.

I recently encountered some unanticipated pitfalls using audio on the web. Think about still images, screening them is relatively simple procedure. You can see with your own eyes in short order and assess the content. With video alone, you could fast forward and scan the scenes. A different kind of problem arises when using audio. How can you and I be sure the audio content is safe without listening to every word, every second? What kind of warning do you have before it’s too late to stop the sound? What if the unexpected happens? How do you recover? What do you tell the students? I have been asking these questions of my peers and the most frequent answer is to fudge the offending word or phrase and change thlisten and learne meaning, if possible to placate any innocent listeners, but what if that isn’t possible? How can we trust the content even when it comes from a reputable source? Is what we hear online as damaging as what we hear in person? These are the questions creating cob webs in my head. Teachers have to protect their students. I think we have to consider these questions seriously. The advent of phone comments on blogs and VoiceThreads and even audio comments on websites or podcasts raise the chances that some unfiltered audio will reach the ears of innocents. Are there any guarantees save removing internet access? Let me know if you have any answers. I’m all ears!

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Connecting Children with Knowledge XO

December 11, 2007

This is an email I delivered to the staff at my school today. Over the weekend an anonymous donor offered to match up to $2000 is we could raise the same for the XO Laptop Program. You see the deadline for buy on, donate one was extended until the end of December. I let the staff know about this yesterday and posted information to our Creek View School home page. It’s a long shot because we can’t really ask the parents for more money when they just helped raise 15,000 items for the homeless shelter and generously contributed gifts for 50 needy families in our community! I think it’s still worth a try and this note explains why.

Here is an update on the XO Laptop Project:

Tuesday we collected $200 from a corporate donor! 9 more like that and we meet our goal. We are trying to reach $2000 by Friday. Several students have also contributed their $2 already. If you can think of anyone you know who would like to be part of this meaningful project by making a contribution, please tell them about it personally. You may also pass along this letter if you like.

Yesterday I talked with many of you about an opportunity to supply laptops to students who without them would become forgotten children. I don’t know about you but the overwhelming nature of the problems plaguing the third world seems impossible to remedy. Think about what using the internet has done to change your own life. It helps you build and maintain connections. Imagine what it can do for children hungry not only for food but for knowledge. They can and will be able to reach out, to grow and develop their minds in a whole new way.

Our school will benefit in so many ways. If successful we become part of a Global initiative to improve education. That’s huge! Our students will be able to see and use the same laptops. Our school may be able to set an example for our cluster or even our county to follow in 2008. FYI, the Mayor of Birmingham is raising money to provide all students in his jurisdiction one of the XO laptops. This is only the beginning.

People want to give but they also want their money to make it to the people in need, particularly the children. The XO project selects and monitors school candidates and follows up on student progress to ensure the laptops are used by the students who need them. We really need to collect donations by Friday to process our order before the holidays.

I think when people feel they can make a direct impact on a child’s life by improving education; they will want to help out. Please spread the word. Every little bit counts, every dollar, every personal donation, and every corporate contribution. Together, we can make this happen!

Your friend,
Kathy Shields

PS I have asked my room parents to make my gift a donation to the XO project. I think I’m just going to feel better knowing that student-Sherpas in tents are studying via satellite on their XO’s. My life won’t change without a few additional scented candles or a Starbucks gift card.