Forum Friday – Action Stations!

Last summer Steve (aka falconphysics) posted his concerns about DOPA; the effort by Congress to basically ban all forms of Web 2.0 and other social networking software from schools. No forums, no blogs, no wikis, no chatting, no nuthin’. In an effort to protect kids from online predators (Deleting Online Predators Act), the piece of poorly written legislation was was frighteningly passed in the House, but thankfully got stalled in the Senate. Naturally, Steve thought it was a bad idea, and offered some reading about it:

A bill just passed the House of Representatives (416-15) that would basically ban all of Web 2.0 in schools and libraries.

The bill would ban any sites that have user profiles, personal journals, and allow for direct communication between users. It was designed to help protect kids from predators (Shooting for MySpace and the like) but is too broadly written.

As written this would probably ban TechSavvyEd as well.

Anyway, I think this is a bad idea, rather than banning stuff how about we teach kids how to use the internet appropriately or target the predators rather than the victims.

Further reading:
David Warlick – Scroll down and you’ll see a number of entries – The article I saw on Digg that made me aware of this.

This got me thinking about advocacy for Technology in Education, or rather the lack of it among the vast majority of educators. Not to say that there’s anything wrong by not taking up the cause, but advocacy in general is something that many, if not all, high schoolers should be taught about in their social sciences and government classes. Everyone feels passionate enough about some element of daily life, that many are willing to go out of their way when eliminating technology funding, repealing affirmative action, instituting the draft, or other issues are challenged. Advocacy for EdTech is probably the easiest as using a myriad of technology tools within the classroom is an excellent means for not only learning, but the advocacy action as well. Sending e-mail, creating web sites, and involving communities of concerned individuals with a wiki or social site are all great ways to both use and help save technology in classrooms.

What can YOU do, you may be asking? Take up some action! Send a nice little e-mail to your Congress men and women and let them know how you feel. Aren’t worried too much about DOPA? There are plenty of other pieces of legislation out there threatening the existence of technology in schools, like President Bush’s recent budget recommendation that all funding for EETT (Enhancing Education Through Technology) be completely cut. That’s right, plenty of money for testing and other resources in the continuing NCLB plan, but none for technology.

Below are a couple of places you can go that allow you to input your e-mail and other contact information, edit and personalize a nice little form e-mail, and then send it off to you legislators in hopes that the voice of educators concerned about the future of our students is heard. There are several terrific lesson ideas for bringing social studies benchmarks to life in your classroom in my little rant there. Making connections between what high schoolers are studying in their classes and taking action in the real world can help to cement concepts and encourage participation in our government. Even if students don’t find a cause to rally behind, sharing with them your concern for their well being and education, might impress upon them that concerned individuals can help change the attitudes and actions of our elected officials.

The EdTechActionNetwork is a great place to stay current on all Ed Tech related news. Joining the network is as simple as inputting your e-mail address and contact info. Every time an action alert is put out, you get word of it, and are usually presented with a nice little form letter to send out to the proper individuals.

Save the Internet
A large advocacy group dedicated to passing Net Neutrality legislation. Many educators, large corporations (like Google and Microsoft) have fears that large telecom companies (like AT&T and Comcast) will soon be charging popular websites extra money in order to keep the “fast connections” open to their websites. Otherwise they’ll be tossed down to a second tier connection in which websites will have slower access, preventing new and non-profit websites from having access to fast connections, and gaining popularity, thus effectively shutting out users from content. There are widgets here you can put on your website (like the one I have here), and the nice little form e-mails to send out.

ISTE Advocacy Toolkit
The International Society for Technology in Education provides a wonderful toolkit for encouraging and helping with your advocacy efforts. The website includes real life stories to share with others that illustrate why action is needed, templates for creating your own resources, and starter kits and resources that help you “make a case” for your cause to specific audiences like administrators, the community, the school board, and associations.