Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Less abstraction, more distraction

When I first used a computer, I had to type on keyboard to get it to do things on the screen. There was no mouse. I would type in abstract commands and the processor would do things like show files and format text and print. When the mouse was introduced, it made my connection to the screen a closer one and less abstract. I could "move" things and manipulate them by moving my hand. Still, I was not directly doing things, but it felt more kinetically connected. Now I touch a screen, and it almost feels like I'm actually dragging the thing on screen, as if it's really right there behind just a couple of millimeters of slick glass. My use of this tool feels less abstract and more literal. I wonder what this does to my brain and to those brains that grow up with this more literal manipulation. I wonder if the sense of the thing behind the screen being more real and less abstract reduces the complexity of thought required to use the tool. I wonder if this increased feeling of the screen having a greater reality also increases the likelihood of it distracting me from the real world around me.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Your feedback is important

Whether you are a student, parent, or staff member, your feedback about this site matters to me! I have recently changed the way some of our helpful information is shown, but I am always looking for even more ways to improve things. Specifically, you should find this LMS Technology site more mobile-friendly. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have things you like about the site or do not like about the site now.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Would you let your kids play in the street unsupervised at age 8?

I was a young parent when the Web was young. My oldest daughter was born in 1994 and the younger one in 1998, so they are almost as old as the Web. Parenting was new to me as much as browsing the Web was. The techs at my daughters' school advised that they never be allowed unsupervised Internet access until they were at least teenagers. This is why we kept our computer (we only had one then) in the main floor of the house so my wife or I could walk by any time and see what they were doing. I would check their browsing history occasionally too. Thankfully they have grown up responsibly. I like to think part of that was because I supervised their Web browsing habits in their formative years. I read this article on Network World and am shocked that most parents knowingly allow their kids to browse unsupervised at age 8! This seems to me akin to letting your kids play in the street unsupervised at age eight--except the worst thing that could happen there is they get hit by a car. <understatement><sarcasm>On the Web, all that could happen is that they could get harassed, bullied, abused, or stalked.</sarcasm></understatement> To be fair, I know there are more devices to monitor compared to what I had as a young parent, but this doesn't divest a parent of this responsibility. It really isn't that hard. No eight-year-old needs unsupervised use of a tablet, and having it can be as dangerous as playing in the street. To use an antiquated phrase, we shouldn't let our kids play unsupervised on the "information superhighway"any more than we should the street outside your house.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Putting the horse in front of the cart

I'm very analytical. I don't like doing things the way everyone does them or the way they were always done just because that's the way everyone has always done things. One of my guiding principles as an education technology coordinator at LMS is that the tech has to serve the teaching or it has to go away or be replaced. Just because everyone has been using a Smartboard the last 10 years...is that the best tool for this lesson? If not, choose another tool. I'm a big comic book fan, and my brother works in the industry, so one of the parallel lessons I've learned there is art should be in service to the story. The tools of technology should always been in service to the teaching, and not the other way around.