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Wednesday
Feb252015

Asking the right question about home Internet access

Like a number of districts, we need to assess the number of student households that have home Internet access. Knowing the percent of students who can participate in online activities, access online resources, and do independent research online at home will inform our decisions around the practicality of making blended learning a bigger part of our instructional program.

But doing a survey simply asking "Do you have Internet access at home?" is insufficient and may not be reliable.

In an interesting article that appeared on qz.com, polls showed that a sizeable percentage of people said they used Facebook but were NOT on the Internet. ("Millions of Facebook users have no idea they're using the Internet", February 9, 2015") While those surveyed were from Indonesia and Nigeria, I wonder just how many students - and even parents - may not know if they are using the Internet when accessing Facebook, YouTube, or streaming Netflix content?

So might the question of Internet availability be more reliable if we asked:

1. Do you access your Facebook page from home?

2. Do you stream Netflix movies or play YouTube video at home?

3. How can you search Google from home? (Check all that apply)
____ A computer
____ A cell phone
____ A tablet
    ____ I cannot search Google from home

5. If you have a computer or other device at home which allows you to access the Internet, how many family members use it?

Has your district surveyed parents or students regarding the availability of the Internet from home? What questions were most useful? What process?

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Tuesday
Feb242015

New book from RADCAB on evaluating information

My colleague, former student, and friend  Karen Christensson has published a new book and poster for her RADCAB series:

Little RADCABing Hood: A Cautionary Tale for Young Researchers tells the story of Red driving to Grandma's house encountering the BBWolf, serious potholes, and other hazards which help illustrate dangers of Internet research. It's a clever, nicely illustrated little book that should appeal to elementary students.

The accompanying poster explains the acronym RADCAB - Relevant, Appropriate, Detail, Currently, Authority, and Bias - factors to consider when evaluating information found online.

Karen's RADCAB concept was first published in 2006 and I am happy to say her passion for the topic has continued. Although Karen, a media specialist at the Calvin Christian School in Edina, MN,  calling me a mentor still makes me feel very old.

Sunday
Feb222015

20 (plus) questions about what we did before cell phones

I ran across this list the other day...
  1. How did you make plans?
  2. How did you CANCEL plans?
  3. How did you know who was calling you before you picked up the phone?
  4. How did you get rid of the fear that is calling people?
  5. How did you find out information about people before you went on dates with them?
  6. How did you find people to date in the first place???
  7. How did you keep tabs on exes?
  8. How did you keep tabs on what your entire graduating class from high school was doing?
  9. How did you look for jobs?
  10. How did your parents get in touch with you when you were out? 
  11. How did your survive waiting for meetings, appointments, trains, or anything without being able to pass time by pretending to look busy on your phone?
  12. How did you do ANYTHING at work before email?
  13. How did you tell co-workers (or someone else you were meeting) that you were going to be late when you were stuck in traffic or stuck on some disabled subway car?
  14. How did you sign up for classes at the gym?
  15. How did you know where you were or where you were going ever?
  16. What did you have to do if you broke down on the side of the road?
  17. How did you always have change on you to use these pay phones?
  18. How did you research anything for school? Did you have to go through the Encyclopedia?
  19. How did you find out about the weather?
  20. How did you stay in touch with friends?

Uh, I was in my 50s, I think, before I had a smartphone and 40 before I had Internet access, and I still can't remember...

  1. What did we do during boring meetings and lectures?
  2. How did we keep track of our loyalty cards?
  3. How did we video chat with our grandchildren?
  4. How did we bore others with pictures of our grandchildren?
  5. How did we remember where we parked at the airport without taking a picture of the space?
  6. How did we find our spouse in the grocery store?
  7. How did we find our misplaced cell phones without calling the misplaced cellphone with another cellphone?
  8. How did we convert foreign currencies when traveling?
  9. How did we figure out in what movie we last saw an actor whose name we don't remember?
  10. What did you use to set an alarm?
  11. How did you take pictures?
  12. How did you workout without getting bored? (Wait, there was this thing called a Walkman.)
  13. How did you keep track of receipts and phone numbers and mailing addresses?
  14. How did you keep kids amused during a car trip or in a restaurant?
  15. How did you know if a restaurant or hotel was going to be any good?
  16. How did you know if your kid was missing any assignments in school or had any unexcused absences?
  17. How did we pay our monthly bills?
  18. How did we know what our checking account balance was (and why do we call it a checking account)?
  19. Where did we get our jokes?
  20. How did we know what our friends were reading and how did we publish our own book reviews?

 And your questions?

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