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On the Horizon

horizon08.jpgVicki Davis at the Cool Cat Teacher blog reports that the 2008 Horizon Report from Educause is now available. I've enjoyed past issues of this publication that predicts those technologies that will have a major impact on education in 1 year, in 2-3 years, and in 4-5 years. I always find in these reports stuff wasn't even on my radar, let alone on my horizon. So to speak. Worth a read.

I took advantage of another Educause resource this week when I heard the term "google jockeying" used during a presentation. Since I was listening with my laptop open, I had to google the term and came up with this: 7 things you should know about... Google Jockeying published by ...  wait for it ... Educause. This is just one document in the long list of the 7 things your should know about ... series. These one-page, double-sided papers on technologies and technology uses (often social) include a scenario, a definition, and a "what are the implications for teaching and learning" sections.(I just saw that Ryan Bretag has the list on his blog.) 7 things are great to share with your less than 100% tech-oriented staff members.


Remember as well that Educause produced Educating the Net Generation in 2005. The first two chapters of this online book are still the summaries of demographic research done on today's kids. 

Happy reading. 



Intellectual Freedom 101

Just last week I was complaining that I felt like a lone voice in speaking about intellectual freedom. And today I get this via the AASLForum listserv:

The current (Nov/Dec) issue of Knowledge Quest, the AASL membership journal which probably arrived in your mailbox this week, addresses the theme Intellectual Freedom 101, focusing on the many issues we face dealing with intellectual freedom in the school setting. Providing a thorougKQW362PrintCoverLg.jpgh introduction and education on current IF issues and how to handle them, this KQ issue features fundamental IF documents such as the Library Bill of Rights and Code of Ethics, articles such as “Getting Started with Social Technology in Your Library” by Annette Lamb, “Preparing for a Challenge” by Ann Martin, “A Patriot Act Primer for School Librarians” by Barbara Bailey, "Championing Intellectual Freedom: A School Administrator's Guide" by former principal Jeff Gibson, an interview with children’s author/illustrator Laurie Lazarro Knowlton (author of Red, White, and Blue), and a guest editor’s column by Helen Adams, chair of the AASL Intellectual Freedom Committee. And did you know that much of this outstanding journal’s content is also available online via KQ Web at  Do yourself a favor and spend some quality time delving into both the print and online journals!

Is AASL a responsive organization or what? I know I am looking forward to reading this issue and the online materials as well.


Engage or entertain?

Engage: to hold the attention of : to induce to participate

Entertain: to provide entertainment [amusement or diversion provided especially by performers]

It's a fallacy to believe today's students are unhappy unless they are entertained.

In Tuesday night's PBS show, Growing Up Online* (an episode of Frontline) a classroom teacher lamented that given the amount of time kids are spending on line that they now need to be entertained if you want their attention. It's not an uncommon complaint.

But I don't believe it is a valid one. The terms "entertain" and "engage" are being used synonymously. There are important distinctions. 

  • Entertainment's primary purpose is to create an enjoyable experience; engagement's primary purpose is to focus attention so learning occurs.
  • Entertainment is ephemeral, often frivolous; engagement creates long-lasting results and deals with important issues.
  • Entertainment needs have little relevance to the the reader/watcher/listener; engagement experiences most often relate directly to the learner.
  • Entertainment is an escape from problems; engagement involves solving problems.
  • Entertainment results through the creativity of others; engagement asks for creativity on the part of the learner.
  • Perhaps the greatest distinction is that entertain is often passive, whereas engagment is active or interactive.

I am not convinced that kids need constant entertainment anymore that any of us do. But they do demand, and should, learning that is engaging.

Lolipop-the-Clown.jpgJust a few random thoughts early this morning as I finish preparing for the three workshops I am giving today at Indiana's ICE conference [today's educators are as demanding as any Net Gen student], I hope I remember the distinction myself.

Is there a difference between entertaining and engaging the learner? How do you make the distinction? 

 * I thought the Frontline program was excellent and balanced. I especially appreciated experts like Anne Collier and Danah Boyd rather than some spooky guy from the FBI. Some good parenting lessons in it as well.