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My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

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EdTech Update





Our generation's legacy Sense a theme here?


Format bigotry

These kind of questions drive me bonkers:

  • Should we ban games from our library?
  • Should block social networking sites in our building?
  • Should kids be allowed to access to YouTube in our district?

These questions make about as much sense as asking:

  • Should we be ban books from our libraries?
  • Should we allow kids to have pencils and paper in our building?
  • Should kids be allowed to watch DVDs in our district?

Why, when thinking about what we give kids access to, do adults so often start with format as opposed to the content of that format?

The sense of banning a website based on the information's container (game, social networking site, wiki, blog, etc.) is as logical as saying, "Since Penthouse is published in a magazine format, we cannot allow students to bring magazines to school."

For some reason I've been asked a lot lately about gaming in school. I don't know that much about games and haven't been a big computer game player since Loderunner for the Apple IIe. But of course that doesn't mean I don't have an opinion (as with so many topics):

Let’s be clear that there are games and there are games -- just like there are movies and there are movies; there are books and there are books. Games vary widely in type -- from first person shoot em’ ups to skill attainment tutors with complex management programs. Games vary in taste, rating, maturity level, and even factual accuracy.

The question shouldn’t be “Do we permit students to play games?” but “Which games should we allow our students to play?" Game On! October 2007 Tech Proof column on the Education World website

Why are we as adults so willing to ban resources based on their format instead of their content? Quicker, I suppose. Decisive. New formats are always a little suspicious. The inability to distinguish between medium and message?

Forming an opinion of a website based on its format makes about as much sense as forming an opinion about a person based on his ethnicity. We've got to get beyond format bigotry.

Kids have.


A useful resource for answering slackers' questions

What never ceases to amaze me is how many people take the time to write out an e-mail query to me about something they could have found out on Google in about .00021 seconds. David Pogue in "Have You Heard of This Thing Called Google."

Here's a resource for quickly answering questions that those asking them could quickly find themselves, but lack the confidence, skills or willingness to do so:

The URL is

I've not yet decided if I should feel lucky that 99% of Blue Skunk readers only ask difficult questions that can't just be Googled.