Google’s Battle for Your Data

August 20th, 2013 by Charles De Gryse

Have you ever notice those little ads creeping into your browsing experience? You know, the ones that seem vaguely familiar to products you may have shopped for online or maybe something you talked to someone about in an email message?

 With the continued growth of electronic mail use, a person’s right to privacy remains a huge issue for many reasons. Data mining is one of the larger reasons that causes much debate.  Facebook is continually being accused of invading its users’ privacy, and, as a result, is continually tweaking its privacy settings to satisfy members. Recently, Google was taken to task for its data mining of Gmail for target marketing purposes. In a 39-page motion filed in June to have a class-action data-mining lawsuit dismissed, the Web giant cited Smith v. Maryland, a 1979 Supreme Court decision that upheld the collection of electronic communications without a warrant: “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient’s e-mail provider in the course of delivery.

Indeed, a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.’” So it seems that Google’s policy is that users gave up their right to privacy when they agreed to use its services. So now we have to consider the possible effects of having the content of our email being scrutinized by another entity. Despite Google’s dismissive comments, they have tentatively agreed to a settlement of $8.5 million with the plaintiffs, among them, the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, the World Privacy Forum, the MacArthur Foundation and AARP, based on the claim the Internet search company violated users’ privacy by leaking their search queries, which may include names or other identifying information, to operators of websites that the users may visit.

But will this legal action result in Google ceasing its data mining tactics? Or will it just cause them to refine and make their mining more covert? Since this is from which Google fills their coffers, I think, most likely the latter. What I’ve learned from this is that the U.S mail is much more private, and I won’t get a slew of pop ups on my computer. So I won’t use Gmail for anything I would like to keep really private. In fact, maybe I’ll just go back to Hotmail since Microsoft claims they don’t do what Google does. We’ll see about that.

MOOCs and Higher Education

August 18th, 2013 by Charles De Gryse

Lately, there has been a lot of talk in higher education circles about MOOCs, Massively Open Online Courses. A MOOC is a model for delivering learning content online to any person who wants to take a course, with no limit on attendance. These classes are aimed at expanding a university’s reach from thousands of tuition-paying students who live in town, to millions of students around the world. When I was having a talk with Washtenaw Community College’s Chief Information Officer, Amin Ladha, this past year I asked him what he thought the biggest challenge facing the school in the future was. He said, without hesitation, MOOCs. I confess, I didn’t know much about them at the time. What I found out though is that they provided free classes in just about any discipline.

As I thought more about this I started to think that yes, indeed , this was going to provide a challenge for brick and mortar institutions of higher learning, if not now , then certainly in the future. This will especially become the case when the brick and mortar schools start to offer these courses, as has come into play recently. MOOCs will become even more of a challenge when courses become accredited and students can earn degrees. That is if our hallowed institutions don’t jump on the MOOC bandwagon.

This jumping is exactly what is happening. The term MOOC has been gaining traction the past two years as some revered names in higher education have begun to offer courses A number of big-name schools including Princeton University and the University of Virginia have partnered with Coursera, a for profit company started in 2011 by two Stanford University professors, to offer free, no-credit courses online. But everyone is still waiting to see how this experiment will work and what role MOOCs will play in higher education, especially the funding of higher education.

Digital Citizenship

August 10th, 2013 by ttidswel

One of the biggest concerns parents and teachers face today is how to protect children from the dangers of the internet. Will they be a victim of cyber bullying? Will they see stuff they shouldn’t on home/school web sites? Will a predator find them from a naïve contact online? And what about friends- will they share bad websites found by older siblings?
I believe adults do their best to protect children. But stuff happens; if not in the classroom, then possibly at a friend’s house, on an IPod, or during bus rides to and from school. Many parents insist on protecting their children from the possibilities by unplugging kids as much as possible. Even if we unplug them at home, they plug right back in the moment they are out the door. Our job as educators and parents is to stare into the abyss of the unknown and educate. We need to teach these digital natives how to not just survive, but thrive in the digital world.

But, how do we do this? It seems so daunting and intimidating at the same time. Technology is always changing, how could we possibly keep up? That question is answered by Jackie Murray, a technology teacher and blogger. “This is simple; just follow the same rules applied to safety in their physical environment.” So let’s dive into those everyday rules we use in the real world:

  • Don’t talk to strangers: Remember “stranger danger” and act accordingly.
  • Look both ways: Be cautious every time you enter a new website. If it doesn’t look safe, step back with the back button and re-evaluate.
  • Don’t go places you don’t know by yourself: Just like you wouldn’t go into a dark alley by yourself, don’t click on unknown links without a trusted adult.
  • Play fair: Be kind! Pretend it is the playground, if it’s not allowed there, then it’s not allowed on the internet.
  • Pick carefully who you trust: Just like you wouldn’t leave the playground with a stranger, don’t allow people you don’t know to “follow you.”
  • Don’t get distracted: No, you didn’t win a free puppy, it’s called advertising. Don’t click on links or give out personal information without talking to an adult.
  • Balance: use technology and enjoy it, but in moderation. A bit of computer and a bit of outside play- mix it up!

Once children understand their digital neighborhood is just like their physical one, continue making connections regarding digital rights and responsibilities. With the benefits afforded by an open internet comes the responsibility to make it a safe and healthy place for everyone.

Congrats to Farida

August 7th, 2013 by Michael McVey

Congratulations to EDMT graduate Farida Malik who will begin her new job a Computer Teacher at Academy of Business and Technology in Dearborn. She believes her graduate studies in EDMT led directly to her position. Well done, Farida.

Farida Malik

Programming for Kindergarteners

August 6th, 2013 by Michael McVey

The Department of Education in the United Kingdom last month announced plans to begin introducing “rigorous computer science” to all children from 5 to 14.

This touches on an interesting argument that has been all but ignored in many ed tech quarters – the dumbing down of technology in schools. Over the years, computer education moved from learning Fortran, Basic, and Pascal to a more ubiquitous ICT – Information Communications Technology. The thinking was that most students did not need to understand the workings of a computer, just how to use one.

Image courtesy of www.bethanyschool.org/

This move to engage students more directly and formally with computer programming dovetails well with movements in North America to include more programming at a very basic level using applications such as Scratch. It may be time to start teaching programming to our pre-service teachers. Not sure? Here is a recent headline from the British press:

‘Harmful’ ICT curriculum set to be dropped to make way for rigorous computer science

You might look at www.nextgenskills.com/ which has been pressing for this in Britain for over a year now.

Online Learning Etiquette

August 1st, 2013 by Charles De Gryse

It seems at times that some students fail to see that the same educational etiquette which applies to classroom learning also applies to online learning. With the explosion of online learning opportunities today students need to realize that even though online learning may seem less formal than in the classroom, many of the same rules still apply.

When posting in online educational forums the rules of spelling and grammar still apply. Using text speak in these forums is not only irritating but also unprofessional. This can end up not only offending teachers but classmates as well. Expectations of online learners are just as high if not higher than what is expected of students in brick and mortar institutions. When posting online it is critical to be succinct in what we are saying and how we say it. Proper punctuation of sentences, for example, can make all the difference in getting our thoughts across. A practice that I have found helpful is writing down my thoughts in a word processing program and running a spelling and grammar check before posting. This, no doubt has saved me from embarrassment on more than one occasion.

Just as critical to online success is sticking to the subject. When someone gets carried away and goes off on tangents, they just take away from the discussion rather than adding something relevant. Likewise there is the contributor who chooses to add something personal to the discussion. This does nothing but distract from the task at hand. The length of responses should be appropriate to the subject and forum. There is no need to impress others with our general knowledge. Stick to the subject.

Like in professional writing, proper manners and civility should prevail. One must be careful of the tone of their conversation. That is all we have to go on as far as reading someone’s intent. We have no body language or facial expressions to help us. A misplaced attempt at humor could end up offending and alienating a colleague. Once again, this is where the practice document can be helpful. Once we have our thoughts polished, we can just cut and paste. This extra step doesn’t take much extra time at all and can make the difference between making a point and insulting someone.

Finally we must remember that when we are posting in a public forum, it’s public. Anyone can read it. Sharing information on educational endeavors is a good use of a forum, but no one needs to see or hear others’ dirty laundry.

Ed-Tech Terms

July 31st, 2013 by ttidswel

The intersection of school and technology is littered with buzzwords that are always changing. I am continuously finding myself searching the meaning of new tech words being thrown around. I found a cheat sheet at edtechmagazine.com featuring 24 frequently used terms that teachers and other educators can reference when participating in discussions about the latest trends in educational technology.

Handwriting

July 26th, 2013 by ttidswel

A high school teacher wrote an assignment on the board, white chalk on black slate. When the kid in the back row asked the teacher to read it aloud, the teacher was worried that he might need glasses. After asking, the student’s answer shocked the teacher, “I can see fine; I just can’t read cursive.”
Is handwriting like camera film-so last generation? With the use of keyboards, smart phones, and touch screens at our finger tips, is teaching handwriting important in this day of technology? I ponder that question as I inquire to whether we should be spending the time in class on these repetitive skills?
I’m a teacher so I know my colleagues still teach correct handwriting, including cursive, but students use it less and less as they get older. Technology replaces penned homework, reports, communication and affects every aspect of our lives. Good handwriting is no longer necessary. You really can get by today without having to write much by hand. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of a job that still requires good penmanship. We don’t need to write by hand, so we don’t.
Signing one’s name is still used to verify identity and approve documents. Another argument for handwriting is preventative, should you lose electricity or tech device malfunctions, writing is the backup. Some fear that we rely too much on machines that don’t always work.
With the rise of technology, handwriting is becoming obsolete. But should we let it disappear? Or should we spend classroom time teaching and practicing what some call an art?

Graphite

July 19th, 2013 by ttidswel

Majority of teachers and administrators believe it is important to use technology in the learning environment. Many teachers agree they would like to use more in their classroom but demand surpasses usage. The largest obstacles are funding, lack of time to implement, and training. For myself, I also found it’s tough to find good stuff. There is so much out there, the time spent looking for high quality educational technologies is exhausting.
I recently came across a jewel of a website called graphite. It is put out by Common Sense Media, an organization committed to helping kids, teachers, and families manage media and technology. Graphite is a website that objectively rates and reviews educational technologies for learning potential. The team is comprised of early childhood experts, doctorates in education, and teachers with hands-on classroom experience. It is a site created by teachers for teachers with NO ADVERTISING. Another plus for this site is they tag each product for subject, skill, and grade level and then map them to the Common Core. “Rigor with a side of reality” is what they call their secret sauce. Check it out at http://http://www.graphite.org//.

Instructional Design Specialist Position – Marygrove College MAT Program

July 16th, 2013 by Toni Jones

Marygrove is currently looking to hire an Instructional Design Specialist for its online, Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) program. This position is primarily responsible for taking course content developed by the MAT faculty and creating the courses in the Blackboard environment. It involves course design expertise so that content is optimized/packaged for usability and a better student experience. 

The Instructional Design Specialist oversees the development (in Blackboard) of new online courses for Marygrove College’s MAT program to ensure consistency with the online learning principles established for the College. This person also provides recommendations on course structure and activities to meet established learning outcomes based upon contemporary principles of instructional design. The Instructional Design Specialist will interface with the MAT Academic Director and other Subject Matter Experts at the College to determine appropriate instructional strategies and approaches to serve multiple learning styles within the online environment. The ability to develop interactive, web-based learning modules as well as the ability to create collaborative and discussion-based learning opportunities within online courses is highly desired. This position will work closely with and coordinate the activities of the course development team at the College. Applicants will be required to submit a portfolio of course development work.This person acts as a liaison between Blackboard Technical Support (CARETECH), MAT faculty responsible for course content as well as the content development designer(s).SPECIFIC DUTIES INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:

  • Work collaboratively with subject matter experts to identify and determine appropriate learning technologies, content delivery strategies and develop high quality, interactive online course offerings based upon analysis of learning goals
  • Work collaboratively with the program development team to plan, develop, test and deploy custom enhancements to the Learning Management System to realize the online learning goals of the College.
  • Manage course development timelines from inception to completion to ensure delivery and availability of online courses required for students of the College.
  • Responsible for the evaluation of all online course offerings and monitoring of determined success measures
  • Conduct research on emerging educational technologies, especially those relating to online education, and make recommendations for new software solutions as appropriate
QUALIFICATIONS:
  • Bachelor’s degree in educational technology, instructional design or related field required
  • 3-5 years’ experience in web-based course development and/or multimedia development
  • Extensive experience with learning management systems (e.g. Blackboard, Moodle, etc.)
  • Experience and demonstrated competency with both Windows and Mac operating systems
  • Thorough knowledge and understanding of Web 2.0 and associated social media tools and their potential application in supporting the online classroom
  • Extensive experience with principles of contemporary instructional design
  • Demonstrated knowledge of and ability to use instructional authoring tools (e.g., Camtasia, Captivate, Articulate, etc.)
  • Experience with online and interactive simulation development
  • Ability to use online virtual conferencing software (e.g. WebEx, GotoMeeting, etc.)
  • Strong understanding of adult learning theory and how it applies to online education
  • Ability to manage multiple priorities and successfully complete tasks according to established deadlines
  • Prior project management experience preferred
  • Strong organization, self-motivation and analytical skills
  • Excellent interpersonal, collaboration and teamwork skills
  • Strong written and oral communication and presentation skills
  • Online teaching experience a plus
  • The ability to responsibly handle sensitive and confidential information with discretion
  • Should be committed to a culture of diversity and equality
Applicants for this position should submit a cover letter outlining salary requirements, resume and contact information for three professional references. All applications should be sent electronically in MS Word format to Karen Cameron, Communications & Marketing –  Marygrove College at kcameron@marygrove.edu. For questions, call Ms. Cameron at 313-927-1446An equal opportunity employer, Marygrove College is committed to fostering diversity in its student body, faculty, and staff.