Ponderance

(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

NYTimes and Online Life & Education

Thursday, August 19, 2004
The David Pogue in the NYTimes has written a funny and very insightful "RUOK? A Tutorial for Parents", which explains for everyone before Generation MSN (or Gen.com or the Text Generation of whatever reductive generational generalisation your prefer) how the "world" now works! For example:
If I'm not at my computer when you need to reach me, you can always text me. Yes, "text" is a verb these days: "He texts, she texts, whatever the pretext." [...] (Oh, that reminds me: Now that I'm out of the house for good, I can finally tell you what POS means. It's "Parent over shoulder.")
All these secrets revealed! :)

On a slightly more serious note, Lisa Guernsey investigates the highs and lows of high-tech networked education in the US. Some approaches, such as games to teach basic skills and make them more interesting, sound great. Of course there are downsides, as some lecturers lament:
"I've never been in a lecture where I haven't seen someone checking their e-mail when they were supposed to be doing stuff," said Bill Walsh, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Instant messages, news tickers and games like solitaire beckon too.
While some high school teachers have got around the problem by working out their own little digital panopticon (a la Foucault):
It doesn't take long for the students in Donna Lee's class at the North Gulfport Seventh and Eighth Grade School in Gulfport, Miss., to realize that the computers at their desks are not under their control.Ms. Lee, who teaches keyboarding and Microsoft Office skills, uses networked software called NetOp to take over a student's computer screen whenever she sees fit. Her desktop computer has a master control panel that enables her to see thumbnail images of every screen in her lab. If she spots an unauthorized Web site, she clicks a button to freeze the student's screen. Using her mouse like a red pen, she writes "No No" across the screen. The scolding suddenly appears on the student's screen too.
I must admit this last scenario makes me uncomfortable, but, in all fairness, in the situation of a high school teacher I may very well resort to the same thing. I guess the idea of your screen as "your space" differs greatly between high school and tertiary contexts. Food for thought, though, for the Australian universities how are considering making their entire campuses wireless. I can't say I'd enjoying lecturing in a wireless lecture theatre where everyone was on their networked laptops. I'd be sure everyone was using MSN instead of actually listening!

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