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THE PIPELINE: Shooting Themselves in the Foot

By Stephen Abram - Posted Mar 1, 2007
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So, TIME magazine declared "you" the person of the year. Give yourself a pat on the back. Besides applying millions of Mylar mirrors to the cover of TIME, they received an enormous ripple effect of press attention from the choice and highlighted the movement of the social networking tools and sites into the mainstream.

Unfortunately, "you" does not cover enough students and teachers while they remain in our schools and school libraries. Oh yes, they're using the tools all right, they're just raising themselves. Too many boards and schools have chosen to bury their ostrich heads in the sand and neglect their educational mandate in favor of teaching skills in the context of an Internet-empowered world.

Chris Harris of the Infomancy blog (http://schoolof.info/infomancy) makes the excellent point that TIME magazine's selection of "you" (us, we, me, them) as its "Person of the Year" excludes too many of our K-12 schools, teachers, and students.

TIME Didn't Mean ‘Me'

Harris stated: "When it comes to ‘me' as a professional, the place where I spend the majority of my waking hours is rather not ‘we.' Or, perhaps it is a bit too ‘we'—but the ‘we' that schools have created to mean ‘us in the corner twiddling our thumbs and pretending that the Internet doesn't exist.' See, for me, Facebook is forbidden. Second Life is shut down. Amazon reviews are avoided. Podcasts are against policy. Blogs are … well … banned just might not be strong enough of a word. The word that springs to mind is demonized. So how, then, could TIME possibly have meant ‘me' when they named ‘you' as the person of the year?" (Infomancy).

In my travels, I hear this all the time from teachers, administrators, librarians, media specialists, and even students. They often don't know the actual name of the person who made the decision to block access. There are local urban legends about specific incidents but no real evidence. Many find nothing more than ignorance, fear, and loathing if they dig deeper to find out more about the policy—if there is one. Sometimes they find that it just happens, with no real forethought at all. Often, faceless parents, nameless special-interest lobby groups, or opaque board policies and unclear local, federal, or state rules are blamed with nothing more than a shoulder shrug. Generally, there seems to be a wall of resistance to actually standing up with facts and showing a well-informed policy. It appears to some that the opacity is a defense against poor policy and damaging pedagogy.

Complete article is available now, or will be shortly, in a variety of formats — Preview (free), Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — courtesy of ITI's InfoCentral. CLICK HERE and search “Multimedia & Internet@Schools” for the story by title.


 
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