The original version of this post was created for a wiki assignment in November 2013 for IT 546 (Instructional Technology and Education) – bolded text reflects links to other wiki entries in the IT 546 wiki.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest origin of this word is attributed to T. H. Nelson, [1] who defined hypertext in 1965 as “a body of written or pictorial material interconnected in such a complex way that it could not conveniently be presented or represented on paper.” [2]

N. Katherine Hayles credits Vannevar Bush with the invention of “hypertext” in 1945, although Bush imagined a system that “was not electronic but mechanical” [3] and requiresa new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record.” [4]

In 2007, Michael Wesch describes how hypertext can link [5] “virtually anywhere, anywhere virtually, anywhere virtual,” and allow data to be exported free of formatting restrictions, so web content creators do not have to know “complicated code” before uploading content to the internet. [6]

Hypertext is described by Robin Goodfellow as a form of new media that “could be used to disrupt and make subject to analysis the traditional conventions of academic writing, particularly the essay, and the power relations that sustained this as a form of knowledge production in the classroom,” although “optimism about the inherent capacity of digital communication to nourish critical social awareness has faded somewhat in the face of the rapid growth of digital popular-culture media which allied itself to commercial and political interests that were themselves ideologically dominant.” [7] However, the mutable nature of hypertext can facilitate dynamic scholarly collaboration that may “retake ground currently claimed by special interest groups and public relations firms.” [8]


Read the rest of this entry »

historical movements in education

This paper was written for CCE 554 (Foundations of Continuing Education) in November 2008.

Read the rest of this entry »

the epoch of incredulity

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…

– A Tale of Two Cities, 1859 [1]

1862: President Abraham Lincoln granted Secretary of War Edwin Stanton authority to exercise “total control of the telegraph lines.” Stanton “used his power over the telegraphs to influence what journalists did or didn’t publish” and “ultimately had dozens of newspapermen arrested on questionable charges.” [2]

1952: President Harry Truman created the National Security Agency in a 1952 memorandum that “placed it under the authority of the Secretary of Defense, and charged it with monitoring and decoding any signal transmission relevant to the security of the United States.” [3]

1972: “In a 1972 case, the Supreme Court invalidated warrantless electronic surveillance of domestic organizations on Fourth Amendment grounds, despite the government’s assertion of a national security rationale.” [4]

1974: “Late in 1974, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh revealed that the CIA was […] conducting illegal intelligence operations against thousands of American citizens.” [5]

1975: Senator Frank Church on NSA technology in 1975: “If this government ever became a tyranny, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny. There would be no way to fight back, because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capacity of this technology.” [6]

1977: “”When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” So Richard Nixon infamously defended his approval of a plan to engage in warrantless wiretapping of Americans involved in the antiwar movement of the 1970s.” [7]

1978: “In reaction to the Church Committee reports pushing for oversight, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, which established a secret FISA court responsible for issuing warrants for domestic wiretapping activity.” [8]

1982: “NSA possesses the technology to scan the mass of signals transmitted through various communications systems and then to select out by computer those messages in which certain words or phrases occur.  It is thereby possible for that agency to acquire all communications over a monitored system in which, for example, a person’s name is mentioned.” [9]

1992: “A fair percentage of the digital signals dispatched on planet Earth must pass at some point through the NSA’s big sieve in Fort Meade, Maryland, 12 underground acres of the heaviest hardware in the computing world. There, unless these packets are also encrypted with a particularly knotty algorithm, sorting them back into their original continuity is not very difficult.” [10]

2001: “The collection of email metadata on Americans began in late 2001, under a top-secret NSA program started shortly after 9/11, according to the documents. Known as Stellar Wind, the program initially did not rely on the authority of any court – and initially restricted the NSA from analyzing records of emails between communicants wholly inside the US.” [11]

2004: “George W Bush briefly “discontinued” that bulk internet metadata collection, involving Americans, after a dramatic rebellion in March 2004 by senior figures at the Justice Department and FBI, as the Washington Post first reported.” [12] “The DoJ quickly convinced the Fisa court to authorize ongoing bulk collection of email metadata records. On 14 July 2004, barely two months after Bush stopped the collection, Fisa court chief judge Collen Kollar-Kotelly legally blessed it.” [13]

2005: “Elements of the President’s Surveillance Program became public in 2005, when the New York Times reported the government’s ability to intercept e-mail and phone call content inside the United States without court warrants, sparking controversy.”  [14]

2005: “N.S.A. technicians, besides actually eavesdropping on specific conversations, have combed through large volumes of phone and Internet traffic in search of patterns that might point to terrorism suspects. Some officials describe the program as a large data-mining operation.” [15]

2005: “In 2005, [50 U.S.C. §1861] was also amended to provide special protections for records which were considered particularly sensitive. Specifically, if the records sought are “library circulation records, library patron lists, book sales records, book customer lists, firearms sales records, tax return records, educational records, or medical records containing information that would identify a person,” the application must be approved by one of three high-ranking FBI officers, and cannot be further delegated.” [16]

2006: “The [NSA] has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, […] most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.” [17]

2007: “The documents, he said, show that the NSA gained access to massive amounts of e-mail and search and other Internet records of more than a dozen global and regional telecommunications providers.”  [18]

2008: “The second program targets the electronic communications, including content, of foreign targets overseas whose communications flow through American networks. These data are collected pursuant to Section 702 of FISA, which was added by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. This program acquires information from Internet service providers, as well as through what NSA terms “upstream” collection that appears to acquire Internet traffic while it is in transit from one location to another. Although this program targets the communications of foreigners who are abroad, the Administration has acknowledged that technical limitations in the “upstream” collection result in the collection of some communications that are unrelated to the target or that may take place between persons in the United States.” [19]

2008: “Congress […] approved even broader electronic surveillance in 2008. By law, the targets of that surveillance must be outside the United States, but lawmakers acknowledged that calls and messages of some Americans would be inadvertently intercepted.” [20]

2009: “a DOJ letter in 2009 […] was made available to all members of Congress (under the usual strict secrecy rules), and it makes clear that (a) NSA collects “substantially all” of the domestic phone records of U.S. phone companies, (b) ditto for emails, and (c) they use these records to perform contact chaining.” [21]

2010: “Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.” [22]

2011: “According to the 2011 opinion, NSA collected 250 million Internet communications per year using 702 authorities. Of these communications, 91% were acquired “directly from Internet Service Providers.” [23]

2013: “According to a top-secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, the NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from internal Yahoo and Google networks to data warehouses at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. […] including “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, as well as content such as text, audio and video.” [24]

2013: “No one can sue the government over secret surveillance because, since it’s secret, no one can prove his or her calls were intercepted, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, throwing out a constitutional challenge to the government’s monitoring of international calls and emails.” [25]

2013: “Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could.” [26]

2013: “The Washington Post reported on June 6th, 2013, that, “The [NSA] and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets.” [27]

2013: “The NSA, through secret court orders served to U.S. telecommunications firms, scoops up metadata relating to almost all calls made into and within the U.S., which it can later query as part of a terror investigation.” [28]

2013: “The tactic of collecting everything was unknown to the public until former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked word of it to the public.” [29]

2013: “The original press articles and more recent stories have suggested NSA monitors or can monitor the vast majority of the world’s Internet traffic. NSA has stated that it “touches” only 1.6% of Internet traffic and “selects for review” 0.025% of Internet traffic.” [30]

2013: “In Defense Department documents, form No. 1391, page 134, the buildings behind the sign are given the project No. 21078. It refers to the Utah Data Center, four huge warehouses full of servers costing a total of €1.2 billion ($1.56 billion). Built by a total of 11,000 workers, the facility is to serve as a storage center for everything that is captured in the US data dragnet. It has a capacity that will soon have to be measured in yottabytes, which is 1 trillion terabytes or a quadrillion gigabytes. Standard external hard drives sold in stores have a capacity of about 1 terabyte.” [31]

2013: “The government says it stores everybody’s phone records for five years.  [Deputy Attorney General James] Cole explained that because the phone companies don’t keep records that long, the NSA had to build its own database.“ [32]

2013: “According to the [Wall Street] Journal, the NSA “has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic.” And while the NSA is only supposed to “target” foreigners, the NSA sometimes “retains the written content of e-mails sent between citizens within the U.S.” [33]

2013: “The communications of Americans in direct contact with foreign targets can also be collected without a warrant, and the intelligence agencies acknowledge that purely domestic communications can also be inadvertently swept into its databases. That process is known as “incidental collection” in surveillance parlance. But this is the first evidence that the NSA has permission to search those databases for specific US individuals’ communications.” [34]

2013: “The [NSA] has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world.” [35]

2013: “The [NSA], using a combination of jawboning, stealth and legal force, has turned the nation’s Internet and telecommunications companies into collection partners, installing filters in their facilities, serving them with court orders, building back doors into their software and acquiring keys to break their encryption.” [36]

2013: “U.S. agencies collected and shared the personal information of thousands of Americans in an attempt to root out untrustworthy federal workers that ended up scrutinizing people who had no direct ties to the U.S. government and simply had purchased certain books.” [37]


Read the rest of this entry »

“separate educational facilities are inherently unequal”

Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka made this abundantly clear in 1954.  My hope is that it can serve as a warning against efforts to segregate online components of education from “regular” and “traditional” classwork.

From the Associated Press on September 25, 2008:

Nearly 3.5 million students nationwide took at least one online course during the fall 2006 term, according to a report last year by the Sloan Consortium.

The integration of the Internet into the school environment is proceeding at a very slow pace.  One barrier to the evolution of the classroom may be philosophical – instead of a movement to incorporate online technology into all classes where it is appropriate, there instead appears to be a sharp distinction made between online and offline classes.

The Associated Press reports that the University of Illinois has had difficulty with the successful development of an online education program:

An $8.9 million online campus launched by the University of Illinois nine months ago has had disappointing enrollment and fewer course offerings than expected, but the man who created it isn’t giving up.

Instead, University of Illinois President Joseph White said he wants to turn the school’s Global Campus into an independent, accredited university to speed up development of degree programs.

So far 121 students have enrolled in just five degree programs – far short of the 9,000 students White projected would enroll by the end of the Global Campus’ first five years.

When it started offering classes in January, White hoped his professors would quickly create online programs in business, engineering and other high-demand fields.

For the most part, “That has not happened,” White told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. “I’m not mad at anybody about that. I think we’ve come to realize that we have a university faculty that is at capacity.”

I think that it could be a mistake to move the University of Illinois Global Campus into a separate program, because it appears to be a serious mistake for the University of Illinois to segregate online learning from the general college experience.  If this philosophy is taken to the extreme and no resources are invested in bringing online technology into on-campus classrooms, the University of Illinois could lose a competitive edge as other universities bring their classes into the 21st century.

I find it interesting that President White believes that the current failures of the Global Campus are due to “a university faculty that is at full capacity.”  If online technology was being regularly incorporated into traditional on-campus classes, it would be easier for faculty to develop online education programs, because the development work would overlap with and build on the work already required for their “regular” classes.  The transition to fully online classes for appropriate subjects would be a lot easier in an environment that is already moving online.

Read the rest of this entry »

Waiting for the Internet

I have started reading “Philosophical Foundations of Adult Education” by J.L. Elias and S.B. Merriam (2005) and this post is a reflection of a theme I am beginning to see as I get introduced to the history of the practice of education and the various philosophical movements that have shaped the development of the education field.

There is a lot of interesting material here to think and write about, but for the purposes of this post I am focusing on how it appears that early education movements were almost anticipating the potential of the Internet, and how the Internet seems capable of fulfilling goals of education that were previously far more difficult to fulfill without the technology.

Read the rest of this entry »