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Archive for the ‘Weblogs’

Frontline: Growing Up Online – A Response

January 24, 2008 By: nooccar Category: Reviews, Technology, Weblogs, Work

"Growing Up Online", a program aired on Public Broadcast Systems
detailed the world in which we all now live. A world where our NetGen
has always had computers and has always been online. Is the Internet a
positive or negative place for this generation? How do we as adults
control this area, or do we? I missed this report on the television (my
personal, comfortable format for video) and had to watch it online. I
needed to remind myself that this generation watches more and more on
small screens of the monitors or even smaller of the iPods. This is
their life, and no matter how tech savvy I am, I am still only a
visitor here.

The
program pointed out that several kids have complete identities online,
and their parents know nothing about them. They live out of reach of
their parents, but why do they? And should the parents worry? Who
controls these lives? I would say no one really does, but they regulate
themselves. In the 21st century we’re moving to "Teenager 2.0" and they
are controlling the technology around them, instead of it controlling
them. We used computers as tools to teach, and then we humans began to
learn from computers and now we have begun to give up that control by
allowing the computers themselves to learn from us. Several of the
students interviewed for this article felt that the Internet is
"currency" and today’s teens fear being out of the loop. I understand
this feeling and agree that I cannot live without information at my
fingertips, but over my last 16+ years online I’ve fought to teach
myself to use that technology wisely.

The report focused on
Chatham high school in New Jersey where teachers realize that they need
to be more interactive with their students. The students today will not
learn anything from a monotone voice tethered to a piece of chalk. Some
teachers do podcast their classes like I would like to do. Teachers
know they need to be entertainers, and I know I do this daily in my own
classes, but I am searching for the HOW. I know a SmartBoard, in some
ways, would tether me to the front of the room, and I am one to move
throughout the room continually during my lesson. I think adding an
AirLiner would give me more freedom to better use technology to engage
my students. I know what’s like to be over exposed to immediate
responses and quickness when searching for information, and our current
students have grown up multitasking online, and we need to figure out
ways to better teach them to discern between that information.  For
example, I have always fought against Wikipedia, because I know how to
abuse it, but I came back from Christmas break recently and refused to
negate the importance of this site. My colleague even cited Wikipedia
in a paper and a test prep book for the AP Language and Composition
course I teach cites a cartoon from Wikipedia. Educators need to cut
through the "cloud of media" to capture the attention of the NetGen,
and I say we use that cloud to instruct them in our traditional content
and concepts. Don’t we (older generations, Gen X & Y, educators)
want future citizens who can find, borrow, reshape and synthesize
information in new, interesting, and original ways?

Many of our
NetGen are searching for places that they can call their OWN. Online
they can be whomever they want, and the profiles they create on Web 2.0
sites like Facebook are who they feel they really are or who they wish
they were. One young woman interviewed on this report was a 14-year-old
freshman in NJ who said she has over 2,194 friends on Facebook, but "I
am only best friends with like 50 people." Either she is being
hyperbolic, or the NetGeners have redefined concepts like "best friend"
for their own use.

A group of students from Morristown High
School pointed out that online relationships with teens differ from
real life (RL) relationships, in that there’s more freedom but fewer
restrictions. NetGeners are more comfortable being way more public than
in the past. As soon as 5 years ago I feared my online persona being
publicized as a public role model in RL, but now I feel a lot less
worried as more and more of my colleagues are all over the Internet
themselves (some feel they have to be, to better educate our students
and they are right) but it’s more commonplace to find your teacher on
Facebook or MySpace, to IM them at night or on the weekends, or to text
them on your way to Starbuck’s before school to get their order. At a
conference on Understanding Technology to Better Understand Our
Students today, my parting shot to the presenter was "Do you think we
will get to a point where we will just crawl into our computers?" His
remark was "No, I think they will crawl into us." A colleague of mine
has so many places she goes online, and so many accounts online, that
when she finds something new that may work for her classes, she just
types in her ID and password. She uses the same for them all and
doesn’t even try to keep a running list. The very public lives of these
kids and the immediacy of adolescence is fearful because employers and
universities search people out online, and as move further into this
millennium, we cannot divorce ourselves from our online selves.
NetGeners won’t begin to realize this on the large scale until a large
portion of them comes of age. Even last year when we went through a
hiring wave, my interview team Googled the applicants. We found very
little of the older candidates, and a little more of the
twenty-somethings. In 5 years, the online personas and RL identities
will have blurred so much more, that these searches can be detrimental
for some.

The Online Identities these people have created stem
from the idea that Sara an anorexic girl from the east coast who
frequents thinspiration.com has simply asserted as being more
comfortable being open about who she is if she’s more open online. Anne
Collier, author of MySpace Unraveled, agrees that this NetGen is more
comfortable as a public generation. As Jessica Hunter grew up, she felt
that her true self was in contrasting and conflicting opposite from her
outward appearance. She eventually developed the online persona of
"Autumn Edows" a sexualized, Goth model. Her parents never knew that
their 14-year-old daughter was strutting around as an 18 year old
online identity. More and more people took notice and this gave her a
sense of self worth that she did find in her RL communities and family.
She was online literally all day and loved every minute of it.
Eventually someone in her small town alerted her parents who
immediately made her delete everything without really trying to
understand why it was important to her. It wasn’t until much later that
her parents realized that Autumn Edows is who their daughter truly is,
and Mr. Hunter said, "I am glad the Internet is there". It’s given his
daughter a place to be herself, and she has successfully blurred her RL
and VL identities, but, in part, she succeeded because people believed
in her and understood her needs.

A NetGen report would not be
complete without perpetuating some fear through a discussion of sexual
predators, but I found one thing interesting. The only true Online
Predator study done so far was by the Dept of Justice, and it found
that only 1 in 7 children online have been sexually solicited, and
according to the report, some of the findings were from situations
where a 17-year-old girl was addressed with "Hey, baby" by an 18 or 19
year old boy. Gen Xers & Yers do not realize that these children
and students have always been online and have been educated in a way
that we will never understand They know not to reject unsolicited
advances or to give out information to people they do not know, and our
generations have to realize that these children grew up with keyboards
under their fingertips and the Internet surrounding them. Parents and
teachers tend to forget that the Internet IS their life, it is their
world. We’re visiting, but they have always been there. This native
generation is savvy in the way of predators, and predators lurk where
kids are. Be it a park afterschool in RL or in the virtual world of
cyberspace. That’s not going to end. Kids engage in risky behavior off
line as well as online, and many of the reports of this behavior online
were those NetGeners seeking out that kind of information &
interaction. We need to look at this generation less as victims and
more as participants, and then learn how to engage and educate them in
their own worlds. Most of the damage being done, they are doing to
themselves.

Evan Skinner, PTO president and mother, first came
on screen praying before dinner with her family during this segment as
if being online was a secular action that sent the surfer directly to
hell. With her crosses and white-bread attitude, she asks her son Cam
for his passwords in case anything ever happens to him. He answers with
a resounding NO. Her daughter Ashley tells FrontLine that she’d "rather
not use my family computer at all than give up my password. I can use
my friend’s computer." When I grew up, my house was the one with all
the kids because my mother knew if we were in the basement we were
safe. Taking away the NetGens connectivity only makes them smarter in
how to get around this. We need to ask ourselves why we try to block
them, and how to educate and better use the technology that to fight
against an awesome educational too that is not ever going to go away.

The
negative aspect of the predatory portion of this report regurgitates
what we always hear in our schools about how blogs, webmail tools,
online video sites like YouTube, and social sites like MySpace need to
be blocked all the time everywhere. But why? Give us good reasons or
drop the filters. People worry what our kids will see, but Gen X &
Y need to realize they see it anyway and it’s not just online, it’s in
our hallways and on our sidewalks daily.

The online predator
section segued into the final part of cyber bullying, which was the
most histrionic of the bunch. Don’t get me wrong, children are bullied
every day online and in our schools. I was bullied, too. But Ryan
Halligan’s and more recently Megan Meyer’s experiences with being
bullied led to their suicides. Ryan had been bullied in school before
it moved online, and eventually he killed himself after a rumor he was
gay and a prank by a pretty young girl pushed him over the edge. These
are two stories of cyberspace woe, and they are not the only ones, but
there are stories of successes too. As mentioned early, Autumn Edow’s
parents finally came to understand their daughter, Evan Skinner’s son
and daughter finally graduated (yes, escaped from their mother), and
Sara, the anorexic of our tale, finally saw a therapist (should’ve been
a Second Life therapist!). Little Ryan’s dad will never find peace and
Megan’s neighbor who pretended to be a young boy who hated her may
never go to jail. 

But what do we learn from all of this? Danah
Boyd from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society
reiterated that the Internet is NOT going away, and we (Gen X & Y)
have to learn how to use it and live with it. Even though the Internet
isn’t the cause of hurt, it can amplify pain felt in the real world,
according to this report. The owner of WiredSafety.org argued what I’ve
been saying all along: We need to teach online education. Teach NetGen
to use the Web 2.0 tools that they’ve developed in a way that couples
both of our generations’ ideas of pedagogy in a critical 21st century
situation.

   
   

Bejeweled

January 16, 2007 By: turtlegirl Category: Adams, Leisure, Miscelany, Weblogs

Since Devon mentioned it, I thought that I would elaborate…

Over the holidays, Devon and I watching an ESPN online gaming tournament.  It consisted of three games:  Bejeweled, Solitaire, and Zuma.  We watched as a young, female college student beat the competition to remain in the first seat and win a million dollars.  Again, a million dollars.  For playing online games.  Devon and I were amazed.  And jealous.

When we returned to Phoenix, we decided to download Bejeweled.  In the past week, I’ve put in many hours of play.  I’m on about the 67th board of the Endless game – which I started playing because I thought it would actually have an end.  I have almost made it through all the Puzzle boards, unless the final destination is just a porthole to another dimension of puzzles.  (I hope not).  I have not tried Action games, because the thought of being timed to play a game is not appealing.  And Classic games are OK – mostly appealing because I have a higher High Score than Devon!  Haha.

This is also why I make a habit of not downloading or playing games online.  They are obsessive and time-consuming.  Plus, my laptop burns my thighs.

Touché Devon

November 13, 2006 By: turtlegirl Category: Adams, Miscelany, Weblogs

I realize that I do not post as often as you, but I am also not attached to my computer at home, nor do I have the ability of posting when the desire arouses – usually on the potty, in the car or somewhere else inconvenient.  I tend to remember post topics as I re-analyze my day while laying in bed – a habit I choose instead of meaninglessly counting sheep at night. 

So, in response to your public request for more information from me:

Hooray for Janet!  Janet Napolitano is an awesome Governor and I appreciate the work she is trying to do in our state for education.  I hope her remaining in this post will benefit Arizona for the long run.

Democratic government.  It actually amuses me greatly to watch Devon delight in the overturning of the government to a Democratic majority.  Devon and I are not Democrats (OK, it says that on our voting registration, but only since the last Presidential primary).  We are not Republicans, either, although we both officially started out that way.  We are pro-education and anti-horrible, unintelligent, bad leaders.  Yes, we hate Bush and what he has done against America.  Within the last six years, world nations have grown to hate the US more and more and it is directly related to Bush.  I didn’t realize the importance of this vote for democratic leadership, until watching the news and realizing that the purpose was to limit Bush’s power.  Good for America!  Thank you for voting and realizing what Devon and I – and zillions others – have known for years:  Bush is bad.  Well, except Bush’s baked beans.  Those rock!

Nanowrimo.  I think that is the right abbreviation.  I’m not going to look it up.  Ha!  So, every November for the past three years, Devon has started the massive endeavor of writing a book within one month.  He has succeeded the past two years and I know he will again, even though he’s off to a slower start with all the distractions our life brings.  I read his first book, which was good, but I think too far-fetched to wow a publisher.  For some reason I haven’t yet read Devon’s second book; at first, he didn’t want me to read it, then time passed and I still haven’t seen it.  One day…   I hope to read the new book and will see soon if Devon lets me.  I also hope that Devon will attempt to have his writing published.

The Carvers.  I haven’t been as noticeably saddened about the Carver’s move as Devon.  Perhaps this is because it has happened to me repeatedly over the years.  Or because I’ve never had a best friend.  Or if I thought I had a best friend, I’d find out that they are best friends with someone else.  Nobody has ever prioritized me as such and I’ve become numb to the pain.  Friends come and go in our lives and only stay in our hearts and memories.  That is why I like to take a lot of pictures – to preserve the memories, because that is all I get to keep. 

The Carvers have meant a lot to Devon and me.  We have learned a lot from one another and been able to be there for one another when we’ve needed help.  We have watched each other’s family grow.  We have stayed together through the chaos and supported one another, even when we don’t actually agree with the other one’s philosophy.  We’ve broken bread and water.  We’ve fixed computers and retiled floors.  Essentially, we’ve created memories and that’s what we’ll keep in our hearts.

Nooccar

March 06, 2006 By: nooccar Category: Adams, Claire, Weblogs

Nooccar. What an interesting name that only our insanest of
engineering friends even remotely identified in a split nanosecond that only
someone like her would even measure. It’s raccoon backwards, and much of that
began with an insane childhood hunting with my dad in the wildwoods of Pennsylvania where, to
amuse me (or himself), he’d call all animals by their backwards’ names. We
hunted reed, yekrut, nooccar, and other insane animals that are definitely not
found anywhere near where my wife and I are actually bringing up our daughter: Arizona. The Sonoran Desert. The Grand Canyon, Mexico, and the Painted
Desert. Not to mention Meteor Crater where a supposed meteor crash
landed some eons ago, but really maybe people like my dad’s ancestors first
arrived on this planet.

Anyway, back to nooccar. My dad may be utterly crazy but I
love him, and there are some things he taught me and I instill those things to
my daughter. Nooccar is one of them. So Donna and I were shopping in Target one
evening, and we found a small dog toy that was a miniature raccoon. We
playfully waved it in Claire’s face and she reached up with her stubby little
baby hands and grabbed at the raccoon. It was in the dollar bin, so we tore the
small tag off it’s butt and gave it to her. Now she loves tags, and if we made
a tag doll, it would sell. She chews on tags and would find them anywhere on
anything at anytime. The raccoon lives in the Four Runner, and she plays with
him every morning. Somewhere along the line his name became nooccar. She loves
nooccar and we love her. This blog is not only about us but it’s about her. So
it’s noocar. That’s it. Stick a fork in me.


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