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 .-

The Electronic Disturbance

The fifth chapter of "The Electronic Disturbance" by the Critical Art Ensemble begins by considering "the classical aesthetic of art as imitation," a concept I learned about in my Italian culture course whose "the real value" at the time was "the distribution of work to areas where otherwise it probably would not have appeared." The article goes on to explain the importance of "recombinant" who use plagiarism to aid human development and invention. "In a recombinant culture, plagiarism is productive." Next is a "quotation" that simply summarizes the chapter thus far with an ingenious footnote explaining the fault of the "surveillance function" of the footnote, readers tendencies to look to the footnote to legitimize the authors authenticity. But this function "implies ownership of language," a realm in which paying due credit becomes nearly impossible. The chapter goes on to explain in philosophical terms how nothing can exist itself only relation to something else, which implies plagiarism is necessary. "The repressive costs to the individual...are to high" when plagiarism is denied. Going on to explain the origin of our recombinant culture as the "need" for transfer information faster, which has deep roots in western history. In the end the chapter urges us to "rethink and re-present the notion of plagiarism...[because] information is most useful when it interacts with other information."
Throughout many publications considering intellectual property law and the Internet a common theme and conclusion ring through; laws dealing with ownership are necessary, but ancient, and need to be reconsidered in terms of technology and human development and invention. From so many disciplines and professions concerns on the matter are deeply rooted and are increasingly (as in the case of the three links in the sentence) being made public. After studying this issue in depth all I am left wondering is why their suggestion hasn't been taken yet?

Critical Art Ensemble. "Utopian Plagiarism, Hypertexuality and Electronic Cultural Production." Node London. 8 Mar. 2007 -

New Mediaeval Aesthetic

The article New Mediaeval Aesthetic compares the Internet to the medieval monastery system, advising "we might do well to look to the past for clues to our future." "This system of monasteries was the original Internet...connected to a greater consciousness...real and powerful." To further the connection author Rebecca Zorach compares the "mystical intelligence...between god and man" that medieval Christians claim to have held to the "collective wired consciousness" of today's society. She goes on to correlate the introduction of the printing press around 1450 with the new idea of authorship as ownership, of intellectual property. The problem is created with the concept of fair use. She speaks of all the ways in which a writer in medieval times would copy, modify, and use other authors works, that mimic many of the ways people are restricted from using works today. This isn't because it's not written into the law, because it is, in terms of fair use, but with the introduction of the Internet the terms of fair use need to be seriously reconsidered. However, Zorach finds a aesthetic quality in the new definition of publishing that has been made available by the Internet, but warns "The power of information technology is obvious; let us see that it does not, be excluding some from its communion, invent serfdom anew." The author of this article is a medieval art history graduate and so another example, like the Bellagio Declaration, proving the scope of the issue of intellectual properly law and the Internet.

Zorach, Rebecca E. "New Mediaeval Asethetic." Jan. 1994. Wired Magizine. 8 Mar. 2007 -