a new meaning for literacy

via Slashdot, the San Francisco Chronicle reports on November 20, 2008:

Rather than wasting their time, children who gab on Facebook or play online games are gaining valuable social skills and learning some technology basics, according to a study to be released today.

The report, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, contradicts the idea held by many educators, parents and policymakers that children should be blocked from online social networks and video games like Halo, which allow users in different locations to play together. Instead, children should be encouraged to use the technologies to gain a certain level of digital literacy, the study said.

… But critics have called social networking a distraction and, in some cases, a danger because of the potential for children to befriend strangers. Hoping to limit children’s use of the services, some schools now block access to such sites.

and why not build online social networks for schools?

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Open Access online research links

This is a collection of free, almost-free and sometimes-free websites that publish peer-reviewed articles and studies that relate to education, learning, web technology and the online world.

Many of these links were found in posts from Online Learning Update, which also exists here.  Some links were found via the Directory of Open Access Journals.  This list will be updated when additional resources are found, and readers are encouraged to add suggestions in the comments.


Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education ( CITE )

“Established with funding from a U.S. Department of Education … grant, CITE Journal makes possible the inclusion of sound, animated images, and simulation, as well as allowing for ongoing, immediate dialog about theoretical issues.”

The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning ( EURODL )

“an online journal on distance and e-learning, publishes the accounts of research, development and teaching” “free to readers and contributes to the Open Content movement.”

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“A Vision of Students Today”

is the title to this video by Dr. Michael Wesch and the students of Introduction to Cultural Anthropology,  Class of Spring 2007 at Kansas State University:

which presents a question about how to effectively employ web technology in the classroom.

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image via Consumerist, from MoveOn

“What we’ve been doing is trying to teach people to do what Obama does during his speeches — to tell their own stories to motivate others,” he says. “You’re building this sense of commitment to both the values and people, but you’re structuring it purposefully to achieve goals like, ‘In this district, we need 2,000 votes.'”

Via Wired on October 29, 2008:

Obama is the first to successfully integrate technology with a revamped model of political organization that stresses volunteer participation and feedback on a massive scale.

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The Internet can make you “smarter” if you learn how to use it

update: The BBC reports on October 14, 2008:

Areas activated by reading a book in the brain of an experienced web user:

Brain activity in an experienced internet user when carrying out simple reading task

Web use stimulates much more activity in the same brain:

Brain activity in an experienced internet user when searching the web

Brain activity in web newcomers: similar for reading and internet use:

Brain activity in a personal not used to using the web while reading

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dynamic collaboration and thoughtful citizenship

From the New York Times on October 11, 2008, with emphasis added:

The same chatting software that, when mismanaged, give us fits in our classrooms, enables us to collaborate in dynamic ways. Students now continue fiery classroom debates when they get home from school. They now walk each other through difficult readings of “The Odyssey” and “Hamlet” and return to class with stronger understandings. Our projects are regularly published — which leads to comments and ongoing conversations with the outside world.

As important as it is for students to expand their sense of community and learn to collaborate — it is more crucial that they learn how to sift thoughtfully through increasing amounts of information. The Internet presents a unique challenge to scholarship — many of the questions that once required extensive research can now be answered with 10-minute visits to Google. The issue now is distinguishing between rich resources and the online collection of surface facts, misinformation, and inexcusable lies that masquerade as the truth. It will be hard for our students to be thoughtful citizens without this ability to discern the useful from the irrelevant.

The practice of education is undergoing a rapid transformation due to web technology.  It appears that the Internet is finding its way into classrooms because it effectively facilitates the goals of education and it is relevant to the real lives of students.

Using the Internet to enhance the learning experience

In research I have been conducting today, I am finding support for the idea that the Internet and web technology can enhance the overall learning experience for students.

From Donnelly, R. (2004). Online Learning in Teacher Education: Enhanced with a Problem-based Learning Approach. AACE Journal. 12 (2), pp. 236-247. Norfolk, VA: AACE.  [pdf] :

Computer mediated communication including web pages, e-mail and web-based discussion boards have been reported by students using them as assisting in increasing satisfaction with their studies, decreasing feelings of isolation and providing better support for their learning processes (Geelan & Taylor, 2001). (241, pdf at 6)

[…] The role of technology in learning is to provide a flexible learning environment that supports student learning rather than the transmission of ideas for passive use in a highly deterministic educational regime. It is this constructivist approach to teaching and learning which is the critical feature of all successful learning environments. (244, pdf at 9)

From Kwan, R., Chan, C., & Lui, A. (2004). Reaching an ITopia in distance learning—A case study. AACE Journal, 12(2), 171-187. [pdf] :

… the Internet is really useful for presenting the multimedia elements as well as providing the capacity to hyperlink to other useful sites to assist student learning. […]

As a matter of fact, students with experience in Learning Space or WebCT tended to ask why all courses were not on them. (179, pdf at 9)

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