Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Internet is a Fine Place for Women

"The electronic utopia will not be coming to a website near you," warns the author of this short article, Chuck Huff. This "electronic utopia" he speaks of is the idea (not an actual place or thing) that the Internet offers users a discrimination-free environment. He begins by describing the positive woman-to-woman interaction that is increasingly taking place in online communities. However, he admits that online discussion forums are dominated by males, who 'maliciously sexually harass' women who try to join in on the 'fun' (as compared to the 'dry and slightly boring corporate sites' that show no such discrimination). There are, as he mentions, though many different women and many different webs, so on the question of the webs hospitality, or lack thereof, to women, he says "the answer will depend on the particularities." I found it striking that he has heard from some women only positive feedback of the web; I wonder if these women have grown so accustomed to sexual harassment that is simply invisible to them when it comes to the web. I can undoubtedly admit that I would give a plethora of positive feedback if asked about my experiences with the Internet, but would be denying the truth if I said I had never experienced the harassment that Huff claims makes the Internet 'inhospitable' to women. I disagree on some planes with this idea though. While I don't condone, or like, advances made by men, they nonetheless are a part of life, cyber or otherwise, so to say that life is inhospitable to women as an absolute is a bit of a stretch.

Huff, Chuck. "The Internet in a Fine Place for Women." A Virtual Commonplace. Dec. 2007. Computers and Society. 5 Apr. 2007 - r3.html-.

"Gender Gap in Cyberspace"

In her short article, "Gender Gap in Cyberspace," originally published in Newsweek in 1994, Deborah Tannen explains "how [she] managed to be a [computer] pioneer without becoming an expert." She describes the purchase of her first computer, aided by a co-worker, in 1980, and the why and how she used, and has used computers since then. Juxtaposing her use to his (her co-worker, Ralph) she hammered out gender differences, that, of course, she has drawn with many shades of grey. She noticed within her own use of computers she left technical know-how to her male counterparts, like Ralph, enjoying for herself the communicative and usability aspects, like emails and word processing. Through her relationship with Ralph, she found that he, and other male users, devoted much of their free time to being tech-savvy, mostly by means of self education. Interesting, as well, was the ability of men to open up more in emails as compared to face-to-face situations. I think that Tannen's observations and conclusions are very up to par, however, I also think it is important that she avoids absolutes, which, especially with gender as the only variable, are hard to claim.

Tannen, Deborah. "Gender Gap in Cyberspace." A Virtual Commonplace. 16 May 1994. Newsweek. 5 Apr. 2007 -

CSCL: Computer Stpported Collaborative Learning

When I started doing preliminary research for my research paper, I came across a website devoted to CSCL. This concept seemed to be exactly what I was looking to write my paper on. The site contains information not only on technology in education, but also the theories of learning that are acted out through technological education. Naturally, from there, I looked for text on this subject and was pleased to find two books, a series actually, on the very subject. Each are a compilation of essays from a wide spectrum of professionals. In the first book, published in 1996, contains one article of particular interest to me. It is by the editor of the book, Timothy Koschmann, and offers a general introduction to instructional technologies (IT). It begins by defining paradigms, according to psychologist Thomas Khun, then outlines the history of the paradigmatic shift that has taken place within IT. Next Koschmann discusses CSCL as "an emerging paradigm in instructional technology." Within this section he describes learning theories that technological education functions within. By coupling this information with that from "Toys, Tools, and Teachers" about why and how games or 'toys' can help us learn, I will form a concept for my paper. The second book "CSCL 2: carrying forward the conversation," seems to be a more valuable source for my paper. It is broken down into three sections; the first of which contains four case studies, each with commentary and responses in the form of full essays by separate authors. This same pattern (of commentary and responses) carries on through the next two sections as well. The second section takes a look at learning in collaborative settings, and the third at technologies for collaboration and learning. I especially like this approach, because it gives the reader a basis for analysis. These two books, and the concept of CSCL, has prompted me to take a look at learning theories that involve collaboration, and important aspect of learning and technologies.

"Some would argue that what learners do in computer-supported instructional settings is not collaborative; further, as the field develops, the technology used to support collaboration may not always involve computers, at least not in the ways they have been used in the past. Thus CSCL is used as a designation in its own right to leave open to interpretation precisely what the ambiguous words stand for."

Timothy, Koschmann, ed. CSCL: Theory and Practice of an Emerging Paradigm. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996.

Timothy, Koschmann, Hall Rogers, and Naomi Miyake, eds. CSCL 2: Carrying Forward the Conversation. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Toys, Tools, and Teachers: The Challenges of Technology

The book "Toys, Tools, and Teachers," by Marge Cambre and Mark Hawkes, "offers a framework for thinking about technology as it impacts teaching and learning today." Split into three sections, each containing three or four chapters, "TTT" begins by explaining the role that toys and tools have in education. This first section is much like the chapter we read from James Paul Gee book on games and learning. The second section outline the impact and issues of integrating technology into learning and education. It also talks about preparing teachers to use these technologies, something I will be focusing on in my paper. I more so want to talk about the theories of learning that are applied when technologies are used for learning, and teachers roles within those theories. The last chapter in this section deals with using technology to test students, as I mentioned in class, as we were talking about the use of this concept within our own University, I think that the possibilities technological testing offers are immense. Getting immediate test results allows teachers to focus their lectures and discussions during that class period, when they'll most likely be explaining the material the students were tested on. The third and final section talks about some of the general uses of technology in education. First "Distance Education," like online courses and homeschooling, then networking and wireless capabilities the Internet offers. This book gives a fairly objective view of the integrations of technology into learning, offering praise and outlining the issues. Each chapter has a little something to offer to my paper. Although, it seems to be a very general book, that I will probably use to assert a lot of the things we have covered in class, for instance, why games, tools, and technology are helpful to the learning process.

Cambre, Marge, and Mark Hawkes. Toys, Tools, and Teachers: the Challenges of Technology. Lamham, Maryland: Scarecrow Education, 2004.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A librarians point of view

Librarian K.G. Schneider blogs on Wikipedia after doing an Open Source radio interview on the subject. As a librarian she in no way objects the site as a place for information transfer, and is actually excited about it's extreme popularity. She speaks of her hopes to funnel peoples complaining efforts into positive efforts to make Wikipedia more useful. Schneider goes on to outline a few objections she holds with the online encyclopedia, like technical points about their tagline, and the "mystical "Neutral Point Of View'" wikipedia "offers." She defends this point a little bit by draw to consciousness the idea that nothing is without a perceived NPOV. In the end she enjoys the efforts and the direction Wikipedia is taking information use, but still has no problem being called "anti-wiki," for her objections are still too big to look past for the greater cause.
I think that this is the grey shade needed to add dimension to the Wiki-debate (I spoke of its lacking in my last blog entry "Wikipedia vs. Encyclopaedia Brittanica"). This is someone who is objectively defining the strong and weak points of a resource, and seems to be actively promoting its revision to the point of approvability.

Schneider, K. G. "Free Range Librarian." 22 Mar. 2007 -

Wikipedia vs. Encyclopaedia Brittanica

This short timeline proves to be a useful source in understanding the Wikipedia debate. It begins by introducing the dates Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia, respectively, were founded, and giving a brief description of each. Then in 2004, three years after the release of Wikipedia, the former Editor in Chief of E.B. publishes an article, concluding that the online encyclopedia is dirty like a public restroom and users must exercise caution. Over a year later Jim Giles publishes a rebuttal piece in the journal Nature summarizing an investigation that proves Wikipedia's accuracy compared to that of E.B. Giles also speaks of the founder of Wiki, Jimmy Wales, and his plans for positive revisions. Things really get heated in March of 2006 when E.B. publishes a 20 page document in direct response to Nature's claims. The through document systematically discredits Nature's arguments and even claims the journal participated in immoral acts. Over ten pages of the paper recalls (all of the?) specific claims made against the correctness of E.B. articles, responding to each by falsifying the claims. The document is very well written and cited. A much shorter rebuttal is issued by Nature just days later denying the claims as well as the request made by E.B. to withdraw their previous statements. A full page ad is then published in Time magazine by E.B. outlining the points made in their last document, this is speculated upon by bloggers as being a symbolic act. Another short response in made by Nature point-by-point refuting the ad. You'll notice the end of the URL of this last paper is "response_final," and it seems at though E.B. is finished with this cat-fight as well. Coverage of this controversy continued in public eye on television programs such as The Colbert Report.
In my Discovering the Past course we learned about how political cartoons paint a black and white picture of the positions of politicians to produce a good and evil. However, upon closer consideration it is easy to see how stances on heavy issues have many shades of grey. I think it would be beneficial for the parties involved in the Wiki-debate to look closer at these grey areas. Nature must understand that their comparison undercut the accreditation of E.B., and while other aspects of the two can be compared in valid ways, the academic perfection E.B. strives for is not one of them. On the other hand E.B. cannot deny the positive aspects of a popular communal source like Wikipedia, and they don't seem to be. I think the two sides are fighting a different battle with a common goal: to preserve their reputation.

Strenski, Ellen, comp. "The Wikipedia/Encyclopaedia Britannica Controversy." University of California, Irvine. 22 Mar. 2007 -

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Bellagio Conference

The Bellagio Declaration, from the 1993 Rockefeller Conference "Cultural Agency/Cultural Authority: Politics and Poetics of Intellectual Property in the Post-Colonial Era," begins by introducing its signatories, explaining their diverse nature and common faith "to the central themes and spirit of this Declaration." The central theme, as revealed by the next section, is intellectual property law. Once again they reiterate the geographical, cultural, and professional differences of the conference members, proving the scope of this issue. Next is a set of five declarations that state the problem, how and why it came to be, who the victim is, and finally their regrettable disapproval of the current common perspective. The following few paragraphs offer suggested areas in need of reconsideration, and possible solutions to not only give some justice to intellectual property rights, but also implement a systematic way to maintain said justice. "intellectual property rights cannot be framed by the few to be applied to the many...we must re-imagine the international regime of intellectual property" Following is a "discussion" explaining the focus and flaws of the "contemporary intellectual property law(s)." The conference describes the importance of the currently neglected public domain, audiences, and even some authors and the need for reform in these areas.
I think this declaration says a lot. They stress the scope of the issue of intellectual property law, as well as logically induce the victims systematic helplessness. I can relate this to minority struggles to end segregation, in each scenario the big guy has to stick up for the little guy before equality can be reached, also in each case such behavior goes against the grain of immediate self interests, thus can be hard to initiate. Being so, this conference and its declaration is a big step in the (morally?) "right" direction. One thing a bit discouraging is the year this conference was held and this declaration was made was 1993. It has been almost a decade and a half, in the technology terms a near lifetime, and we've seen little change for the better as far as the little guy's concerned.

"The Bellagio Declaration." Mar. 1993. The Society for Critical Exchange. 8 Mar. 2007 .-