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EdTech Update





Librarian's Blues

What happens when you cross Muddy Waters with Marion the Librarian?

From my friend and colleague (but no relation) Keith Johnson up in Bloomington MN -  The Librarian's Blues. Remember, you saw it here first.

Keith is half of the talented Celtic Cat and Prairie Dog duo. One of them is talented and the other one is handsome - I can never remember which is which.

From the angst ridden performer himself...

I first *tried* to sing this song on a live school TV news show at Bloomington Kennedy last spring as I was trying to highlight the issue of getting our books back before the school year ended. I had, of course, practiced learning the very uncomplicated lyrics over and over again . . . how hard is it to rhyme the words books, took, and crook? Well, with the live cameras rolling, the whole school watching, I'm pounding the basic blues beat, and I'm blowing the harmonica . . . and as I start to sing the (uncomplicated) lyrics, I come to the horrifying realization that I have completely and utterly blanked out on the lyrics. In the thick of the panic, I'm not even sure I remembered what the hell the song was about. So I keep playing the basic blues beat, blowing on the harmonica, and praying to the high heavens to please, PLEASE  let me remember the (uncomplicated) lyrics to my own song. . . and I keep playing and playing and blowing and sucking on the harmonica (and getting very winded). I was finally ready to throw in the towel, end the song and admit I'd forgotten the lyrics (which I did mutter at one point in this very long song prelude...), but, the heavens finally did part and the lyrics (those very uncomplicated  ones...) did finally come back to me; most of them, anyway. Librarian's Blues indeed.

Tell your LWW  that I could've used some blonde backup vocals (as she provided at MEMO when I played down there for the vendor's reception...). Maybe we can overdub those later.


Never let it be said that Keith doesn't suffer for his art.


Home media ecology

A friend whose blog I read sometimes titles her entries "Imponderables." I suspect this might fit under that category.

Every time I visit with a telecommunications provider, I hear a sad litany of just how tough it is to make a profit in today's marketplace. I don't get it.

In 1988, this was, as I remember it, my telecommunications outlay:

  • Basic telephone service including handset rental: $25 a month
  • Long distance service, $10-20 a month
  • One television and one radio (receiver built into a stereo amplifier) = $500 with a life span of 36 months = $15

Total about $55 a month.

In 2008, this is my telco outlay:

  • Basic telephone service, no handset, $25 a month
  • Long distance service, $10-20 a month
  • Cell service for 3 lines, text messaging, data service: $120 a month
  • Satellite TV, no movie or sports channels, $50 a month
  • Home broadband Internet access, $50 a month
  • Webhosting, two sites, $40 a month
  • Various wireless charges at hotels, airports, etc. $30 a month
  • Three televisions, three computers, printer, scanner, 2 cell phones, 1 cell phone/PDA, 5 telephone handsets (now portable with base stations), 2 iPods, GPS system, wireless home router, DVD player, VCR, stereo receiver/amp (No TiVo - yet.) All devices which need to be replaced now and then. Maybe around $9000 worth of electronics with an estimated life span of 36 months = $250

 Total about $580 a month!

And telco providers aren't making money? I don't get it.

I thought of this while playing with a chart that Lee Rainie from the Pew's Internet & American Life uses in this The New Media Ecology presentation. (He credits Tom Wolzien, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., but I can't seem to locate his work.) Here is my adaptation:





There's been some fuss lately about whether Prensky's Digital Immigrant/Digital Native analogy is accurate or useful. I'm not sure. But I do feel that while I may not have immigrated to a new digital country, I have moved from an information desert to an information jungle over the past 10 years or so. (And I have the bills to prove it.)

I am pretty sure that our kids don't inhabit this jungle any more skillfully than us geezers. They've just never known the desert.


Making Nancy's message sticky

sampcf8a202317cc4638.jpgJohn Pederson offers up the challenge to make the ideas about filtering and Internet safety Nancy Willard writes about "sticky."

Chip and Dan Heath in Made to Stick; Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (Random House, 2007) suggest that "sticky ideas" have some common characteristics and that all of us can make our ideas stickier. Sticky ideas:

  • are simple
  • have elements of the unexpected
  • are concrete
  • come from a credible source
  • contain an emotional appeal.
  • use stories to make an impact.

(For those of you who would like to review the concept of stickiness, see this post.)

Can we make Nancy's ideas "stickier?" Off the top of my head... 

  • are simple

The dangers from predators on social networking sites has been overblown, resulting in adult hysteria and Internet overblocking.

  • have elements of the unexpected

More female teens solicit sex online than dirty old men.

Cyberbullying is causing kids more harm than sexual predators.

Middle School and High School girls were about twice as likely as boys to display cyber-bullying behaviors in the form of email, text, and chat. <> 

  • are concrete

Iin 2005 there were only 100 known cases of child exploitation related to social-networking sites nationwide and that there was “not a single case related to MySpace where someone has been abducted." “Predators & cyberbullies: Reality check,”

  • come from a credible source
A study conducted by the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School (JAMA, 2002) examined how well seven Internet filters blocked health information for teens at settings from least restrictive to very restrictive.  They found that at the least restrictive setting only 1.4% of the health information sites were blocked and 87% of the pornography sites were blocked. At the most restrictive setting, 24% of the health information sites were blocked with still only 91% of the pornography sites blocked. "Does Pornography-Blocking Software Block Access to Health Information on the Internet." JAMA, Dec 11, 2002. <>

  • contain an emotional appeal.

 “What a person can accomplish with an outdated machine in a public library with mandatory filtering software and no opportunity for storage or transmission pales in comparison to what person can accomplish with a home computer with unfettered Internet access, high bandwidth, and continuous connectivity… The school system’s inability to close this participation gap has negative consequences for everyone involved.” Henry Jenkins, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture <>

  • use stories to make an impact.

David Knight's life at school has been hell. He was teased, taunted and punched for years. But the final blow was the humiliation he suffered every time he logged onto the internet. Someone had set up an abusive website about him that made life unbearable. <>

I rather jokingly suggested we have a contest to see if who could write the "stickiest" bit about this topic. Scott McLeod at Dangerously Irrelevant said he'd promote the idea as well.

Submit your "sticky" idea here and win a free copy of Machines Are the Easy Part; People Are the Hard Part. (I'll let Nancy be the judge of the best idea!) You will need to include your email address when you add your comment - addresses aren't published on the blog itself.

Contest closes November 1 so stick with it!