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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Web Tools for Educators

Several lists of web tools have been created and then revised over time by Rick Lillie, an accounting professor at California State University. He also has a blog that has a lot more information about web-based tools that can be used in an academic environment, and what looks like a new WordPress blog.

Web Tools on the August 8, 2008 list include:

  1. TokBox is a free Web 2.0 video messaging service. TokBox enables me to record up to a 15 minute video message. TokBox gives me a URL link that I can include in an email message. TokBox also provides code with which to embed a Flash player in a website or web page. TokBox includes a unique feature that enables video-conferencing with up to six people. My students use this feature when working together on a project.

  2. VoiceThread is a Web 2.0 hosted service that takes slide-type presentations to a whole new level. It is easy to create presentations with either audio or video support tracks. VoiceThread makes it possible to record “live annotations” while recording a presentation. The end result is a streaming presentation that greatly improves instructor presence. VoiceThread creates a warmer teaching-learning experience.

  3. Google Docs is a Web 2.0 technology tool that enables collaboration. A great feature is the ability to save a document in a variety of formats including Adobe Acrobat’s .pdf format. It’s free and can be used with other Web 2.0 tools to empower the collaboration process.

The lists can be seen here.