New Media ……. New School Year !

As the the new school year approaches items on new media and media technology in the classrooms start to increase. Of course for some parents, teachers and the news media outlets  the term new media can be a potential anxiety inducing bogey-man. Reminds of when I was in grade eight and everyone was getting cranked up over ” The New Math ” .  -Please stop calculating how old that makes me, I’m older. – Anyway, the word new can generate a lot of excitement. That’s why they use it in advertising and government announcements .  Advertisers use it with the word improved and governments use it with the word initiative.  Because many people have trouble defining or explaining what the word media means, attaching new to it can really increase interest levels, excitement, and anxiety. For a really good set of videos on new media check out this post: New Media Douchebags Explained. Don’t let the title  put you off , the videos are entertaining and informative.

Now for some media and education news and resources from the CBC. First up, the CBC news site is devoting a section to School and education., Back To School . Included on this page is an article Education in the digital age

The article includes an interview with  Don Tapscott  author of  the books Growing up Digital (1997) and Grown up Digital (2009). Here is a video posted with the article:

Some of Mr. Tapscott’s observations and comments:

I see little difference between K-12 and university. The methodology is much the same: It is the industrial model of student mass production, where the teacher is the broadcaster. A broadcast is by definition the transmission of information from transmitter to receiver in a one-way, linear fashion. The teacher is the transmitter and [the] student is a receptor in the learning process.

The formula goes like this: “I’m a professor and I have knowledge. You’re a student you’re an empty vessel and you don’t. Get ready, here it comes. Your goal is to take this data into your short-term memory and through practice and repetition build deeper cognitive structures so you can recall it to me when I test you.”

The Industrial Age model of education is hard to change. New paradigms cause dislocation, disruption, confusion, and uncertainty. They are nearly always received with coolness or hostility. Vested interests fight change, and leaders of old paradigms are often the last to embrace the new.

Sitting mutely in front of a TV set — or a professor — doesn’t appeal to or work for this generation. They learn best through non-sequential, interactive, asynchronous, multi-tasked and collaborative activities.

Now for some technological paranoia ! Ont. teachers reject Wi-Fi ban Ont. school board won’t turn off Wi-Fi

This all started with a parents group  in Simcoe County wanting the board to remove/turn off all WI-Fi networks for fear that they were physically harming the students.  The parents became concerned when  “they realized their children were displaying the same sorts of symptoms and that the problems cleared up on weekends and holidays when kids weren’t in school,… .” The  parents were ” reporting similar problems among kids at 14 different schools in Simcoe County.”

This in turn  increased anxiety and led to the following:

“A resolution aiming to get Wi-Fi out of classrooms, put forward by teachers in the Niagara region, was soundly defeated at the annual general meeting of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.”

Now here are some of the things to consider:

  1. From a cost perspective it is now cheaper for many school boards to install a WI-Fi network than a wired one.  Older school building do not take kindly to computer networks. I  know this has been a problem in our secondary school in Northern Ontario
  2. Wi-Fi networks mean that lap-top computers, electronic notebooks and tablets can be used anywhere in the school. Each classroom can become a potential computer lab and computer capabilities can be incorporated in any classroom activity.
  3. Depending on whether the student receives a computer or supplies their own, can now mean that the hardware costs go down for the school board.
  4. Wi-Fi networks opens the door to textbooks as software. The textbook is published and used as digital text.  Again costs for textbooks will go down considerably.
  5. Are the students’ symptoms the result of the WI-Fi network itself or the result of how the computers are being used?  Could eyestrain from looking at improperly lit screens, lighting in rooms reflecting on screens,or  sitting too long or improperly with the computer be causing the headaches and nausea ? What are the volume setting on the computers and how is audio being used ?
  6. No accurate collection of data in regards to the students’ age, gender, specific schools, classes, and symptoms has been properly documented.


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