Earlier this month news broke of parent Tommy Jordan and his somewhat unorthodox method of dealing with his daughter’s disobedience in the online realm. Jordan’s daughter, Hannah, reportedly used vulgarity on Facebook to talk poorly about her family. In response, Jordan lectured his daughter and then shot his daughter’s laptop nine times with a pistol. Additionally, he recorded the “lecture” and posted it to his daughter’s Facebook page as part of her punishment.
Jordan has since defended his actions, stating “you raise your children however you want.”
“As long as they turn out well in the end, then our jobs as parents was well done,” he added.
Despite a fair amount of support, there are still many who oppose Jordan’s discipline methods. And from that disagreement comes a few interesting points that apply to parents with kids learning to use the Internet.
1. Compared to their kids, parents need to be as knowledge if not more knowledgeable about technology and social media. If parents know significantly less, they risk not being able to set prudent household policies and being less involved with their kids’ development in utilizing online environments.
Jordan supporter Samantha Radecki hints at this, stating on her opinion blog that parents don’t have the same level of control over their kids due to technological advances.
“Fifteen years ago, when a home telephone was the only way to keep in contact, it was easy for parents to monitor their kid’s activities,” said Radecki. “Parents today have to be up to date on using social media websites, cell phones, email and everything else in order to keep track of their kids like they used to.”
This easily leads into point two, which is…
2. Parents must be less fearful for and more supportive of children who wish to explore and search for information online. If parents are “introducing children to online environments through a len[s] of fear” as author Daniel Donahoo says, their “need to control, interject and govern” what their kids do online will limit the learning development of their children.
That view may seem to oppose the first point Radecki makes about monitoring what kids are doing online, but it truly doesn’t. Rather, a parent who knows how to use social media and other Internet technology not only relates better to their child, but also makes more intelligent household Internet policies, which can be created without the fear factor. That parent can sit down and explain what cyber-bullying is and why passwords shouldn’t be shared, all the while encouraging healthy online search habits. “Children supported to explore and search for information online will actually be better equipped to manage and avoid inappropriate content,” said Donahoo.
Looking at how Tommy Jordan handled the situation with his daughter’s Facebook postings in light of these two points seems extreme. While we don’t know all of the circumstances that led up to him shooting bullets through his daughter’s laptop, it’s easy to wonder if there was a better way to handle it.
When he defended his actions, he said that he didn’t have his daughter close her Facebook account because he’s an avid user himself and can empathize with the thought of losing years of memories. There are additional reasons to believe Jordan isn’t completely tech ignorant, leading me to believe that there was still the opportunity for him to spend productive time with his daughter on how to better use social networking. Instead he chose to shoot bullets through her laptop.
In the end, he’s at least partially right: parents more or less have the right to raise their children how they wish. However, there seems to be enough scientific evidence to show some methods are more productive than others. When it comes to raising a child in a tech-laden world, isn’t it more responsible to understand how that tech works and to spend time with the child creating a healthier, more meaningful view of the Internet and what it offers?
Photo via Oleg1975, Flickr Creative Commons
2011 has come and gone, and tied to it were numerous stories related to education technology. E-readers and tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Apple iPad gained momentum, big-name universities offered even more free online classes, and the flipped classroom gained more attention. And while some ed tech predictions weren’t realized in 2011, this year shouldn’t be any less exciting.
I’ve talked a bit about education technology here, most recently on whether or not the rush to adopt it has moved too quickly. The reality, however, for Internet newbies and long-term users alike is that technology and learning are increasingly difficult to separate now. While schools like the Waldorf School of the Peninsula are still resistant to technology’s march, many more work to integrate it into curriculum. But education technology isn’t merely relegated to the school; even the simple act of going online to learn about new technologies highlights the role tech is playing in our learning.
That said, 2012 should continue to change how we use technology while learning, with experts already making bold predictions. Technology author Audrey Watters recently posted her list of 12 education tech trends to watch in the coming months, a list that includes important concepts like higher-quality interactive content and “social learning.”
“The ability for learners to connect with one another will be one of the most important trends of the coming year,” said Watters in her piece for MindShift. “This isn’t just a matter of connecting learners with online resources or with online instruction. Rather, one of the big opportunities will be to create a space in which learners can help and teach each other.”
With the recent news that students of online schools are lagging behind more traditional schools, it’s easy to wonder if the isolated, somewhat impersonal nature of an online course is at least partially to blame. While solid research into social learning over the Web is still needed, there are at least a few studies that indicate that learner-learner interaction is just as important as teacher-learner interaction in online programs.
At least one company is already betting on the importance of that interaction. Last week education start-up Piazza announced it had received a $6 million infusion to fund further research and development into its social learning platform. The start-up states that its service is “designed to connect students, TAs, and professors so every student can get help when she needs it — even at 2AM.” Similar efforts are sure to make headlines this year.
Another important area that Watters addresses is the consideration of high-speed Internet access to schools and how it may sadly get worse than better. She notes that while the U.S.’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recognizes the importance of high-speed Internet in schools and libraries, “even those schools with broadband access may find their resources strained in coming months.”
This topic was discussed here in September and again in November, addressing both the importance of broadband access to schools and the actions the FCC took last year to expand broadband access. The news also highlighted the Idaho Education Network and how despite its successes, funding cuts to the program have already forced some Idaho schools to reduce availability. This news highlights what is likely to be many more education cuts before 2012 ends, potentially leading to further reductions in tech investments at schools.
Despite the cutbacks, education technology will likely continue to be a hot topic this year as people from all walks of life take to the Internet and mobile devices to study, learn, and teach about our world. That very concept is what drives Learn the Net, a site utilizing technology to help you learn how to use it better. It’s also a reminder that education technology, while contentious, isn’t going anywhere. We may or may not see many changes this year, but ed tech’s importance will only grow.
Photo via Erin Lodes, Flickr Creative Commons
With Yuletide songs, Christmas cheer,
and Auld Lang Syne whispering at our ear,
traditional holidays wave goodbye,
as the Internet becomes their new ally.
But how has the Internet
changed all that we know?
Does holiday celebration
now have a new beau?
Sit right back
and read what I say,
as for better or for worse
things are different today!
1. Organize holiday events using self-organization and social media tools found online.
Online social tools like Meetup.com and Facebook.com have made it easier than ever to make plans for holiday celebrations like Southeast Asia’s Water Festival or New Zealand’s Waitangi Day. Letters and phone calls may have once been the norm’, but now Internet-connected people can schedule events and invite people with only a few clicks of the mouse. St. Patrick’s Day party? Labor Day camping? Send off a digital invite in advance and get a better idea of who’s attending.
Truth be told, a phone call to family to organize a holiday event will always be in style. Just don’t be surprised if that phone call takes place over the Internet.
2. Feel a little closer to loved ones far away by streaming video from your web camera or placing Internet-streamed video calls.
It happens all the time: a life experience takes a loved one far away from friends and family. For those used to spending time with loved ones on holidays, the distance can be difficult to deal with. A phone call was as close as one could get. But with advances in how bandwidth-hogging media is transported over the Internet, making a video call or streaming live webcam footage online is now all the rage. Making video calls is easier than ever these days, making long-distance communication more intimate and engaging, and holidays a little bit brighter for many.
3. Book travel and accommodations to see family and friends during holiday celebrations from an Internet-connected device.
Say you want to fly from Paris to Baltimore to see your family for Christmas, but you also want the comfort of a dockside hotel. It used to mean talking to a travel agent or placing phone calls to make bookings. Today things are quite different. Whether you’re at a café or at home, as long as there’s an Internet connection you can go online to compare hotel rates, book plane tickets, and — for those who want to skip out on dirtying the kitchen — reserve a table at a restaurant. With this new technology has come fierce competition in the travel industry, in many cases driving down prices for travelers going home for the holidays.
4. Buy holiday gifts online, saving time and hassles in the process.
Searching for the perfect Boxing Day gift? Sending flowers to your beau on Valentine’s Day? People are increasingly turning to the Internet to accomplish these tasks and more. Earlier this month I mentioned that online holiday spending is seeing big gains this year. It won’t be surprising to see that trend continue, even beyond the hectic end-of-year holidays that so heavily involve buying gifts for loved ones. With a wealth of low-cost shipping options and online price comparison tools like Google Shopping, it’s little surprise to see the process of gift shopping go online. Even something as traditional as a Parents’ Day card is occasionally being replaced by an online interactive greeting card. One has to wonder, though, if such a digitalization threatens to remove the intimacy of the act.
5. Notice how the holidays seem more commercialized than ever with the advent of the Internet age.
While I’m not offering any hard facts to back up this assertion, it sure seems like the Internet is just another extension of an already increasingly commercialized take on official holidays. With the Internet, a plethora of advertisements and purchasable products is at our fingertips. Sadly, now we can’t even escape our own homes without being assaulted by online ads that beckon us to buy flowers for our Valentine or order that hip Charlie Sheen Halloween mask. Now we even have online shopping days like Cyber Monday set aside for us with the intent to get us to buy more gifts (and personal items) before Christmas. Next I’m sure we’ll be seeing “official” corporate sponsors for holidays worldwide. Joy to the world.
Photo via The Sean & Lauren Spectacular, Flickr Creative Commons