Bill’s Notes From NECC ’97

Keynotes

Monday – Bill Gates

Three Microsoft Examples.
  • New York- Mott Hall, Office & Notebook computer available
    100% of the time.
  • Jackson Hole WY Certified Education Program (AATP) for NT and
    95 Program at High school
  • Blacksburg VA “Most connected Community” Linking schools to
    community including Elementary Children to Pensioners

Tuesday – Keynote

Pre keynote announcements: Student Technology Leaders

Info available at
http://www.advanced.org/thinkquest

Plan for Cyberfair 98, Community day In October

Chris Held Bellvue SD

  • Philosophy = Powerful Ideas
  • Epistemology Powerful Learning
  • Pedagogy , Powerful Teaching
  • Technology Powerful Tools

‘All Things are connected”

Integrated Technology Classroom with 4:1, Kids to Computer ratio

Also includes Camcorder ,Lego-Logo, Laptops,

Wednesday – Jennifer James, Cultural Anthropologist

Author “Thinking in the future tense”

Getting computers and technology is not the major problem.

Rich Poor split is not the major problem eventually either the
disparity resolves itself or the poor defect toward anarchy.james

The gap is a behavioral.”The Truth will set you free but first
it will make you miserable” Technology can be a great equalizer
economically. Mass migration can be a destabilizer but technology
allows people to prosper where they are.

Progress is the Concentration of energy

Skills of teachers vs intelligence of teachers

Economics are the efficient Use of energy

Concurrent Sessions

NECC Wednesday’s Sessions Wed, Jul 2, 1997

Chris Dede – 10 Big Question, with some big answers

“Ten BIG QUESTIONS are dominating current discussion
about educational technology:

  • How do we pay for multimedia-capable, Internet-connected
    classroom computers for every two to three students?
  • How can my school afford enough computers and
    telecommunications?
  • How do I get my colleagues involved with educational
    technology?
  • How do we move our community beyond traditional ideas about
    teaching, learning, and the role of schools?
  • How do we prove to our community that new technology-based
    models of teaching/learning are “better”?
  • If we use technology well, what should we expect as “typical”
    student performance?
  • What comes next after the World Wide Web?
  • How can educational technology increase equity rather than
    widening current gaps?
  • Where can I get external funds for innovation?
  • How can I keep up?”
How do we pay for capable computers for every 2-3 students?

– We can’t! Computers aren’t the only, Ignores fhe teacher
training needs, Ongoing costs are prohibitive

-We shouldn’t do it! Wrong model
We need more financial leverage from outside (the school)
technology and develop learning as part of living. This will
require the building community partnerships.

How can we afford enough technology? (ie; without doing
anything else)

”Enough” is a moving target

How do expenditures alter when educational technology is used
effectively?

-Less textbooks

-Less data managment

-Less Reteaching

-Dillerent ratios Of student :teacher
How do we move our community beyond traditional ideas of
learning and teaching.

-3rd generation thinking

-Active collaborative

-Shared cognition

-Distributed learning
How do we Prove the new models are Better?

Evidence:

Motivational Evidence

Expanding range of topics

Conventional content Mastered by More, Sooner

Skills for knowledge based workplace

Higher outcomes on standardized test
What should we expect as typical student performance?

Beyond TIMSS and Similar tests, beyond dlsipliie based
standard,

Beyond new pedegody

Equity Question? Initial Widening but Ultimate Narrowing

Content and services are as Important as access and literacy.

Integrating the internet into the classroom

Four Parts
  • Equipment
  • Access
  • Connectivity
  • Training
Previous experience running a Webcamp for teachers. At the
beginning no one scored themselves below a 3 on the technology
rubric. After the course their scores went down because they
didn’t know what they didn’t know.

Three uses for the internet

Internet as a ProD tool

Teaching and learning about the Internet

Teaching and learning with the Internet

E-merging instructional practices on the Internet

bvsd.k12.co. us/ ~black/ NECC97.html

lt’s Not the Internet its the Information

Ian Jukes

Handout At : http://www.tcpd.org

We Continue to focus On hardware

So the revolutioi isn’t here yet

Don’t blame a pencil if a kid can’t write

Headware not hardware

Who is this guy?

  • what is he going to do?
  • overview of Internet from different perspective
  • present and future of Internet for schools
  • outline information literacy curriculum
The Internet Revolution: Do you remember when?
  • you didn’t see gee whiz articles about the Internet in
    magazines and newspapers
  • surfing was done outdoors
  • Java was something you drank
  • the Web was a TV or a phone
  • you didn’t see “http://” written at the bottom of ads
  • you didn’t have to explain the @ sign
  • how long ago was that? 19 months
  • it has been there for some time, but it’s been flying below
    our personal radar
It’s spreading like wildfire
  • become the infrastructure for every company and industry in
    marketplace
  • although many just don’t know it
  • world’s largest economic sector
  • an import surpassing oil and steel
  • driving fundamental changes in business and community
  • new reality for 21st Century
What’s happening?
  • explosion in summer of 1995
  • went overnight from geekhood to coolness
  • from a special thing done by a small priesthood to public
    consciousness overnight
  • abolished distance making everywhere here
  • in ’94 there were no commercial Web sites
  • now they number in 6 figures
  • everyone’s registering domains
  • Yahoo gets 3,000 plus submissions daily
  • Web doubling every 53 days
  • this is biological growth – like red tide/lemmings
The e-mail explosion
  • 30 million messages daily
  • the equivalent of $9 million worth of first class mail
  • total volume by Post Office is up 5% since ’88
  • but business mail is down by 33% in same period
  • only stuff that goes through is at-risk mail
  • post office has become one giant piece of road kill on
    information highway
What is happening?
  • cyberspace now middle class suburb
  • this has happened in a world of $2,500 computers where using
    telecommunications is like trying to suck peanut butter up a straw
What will happen?
  • when we see $500 network computers combined with @Home cable
    modem at 10,000,000 bps
  • will the number of users go up, down, or stay same?
  • obviously it’ll go up – this in part explains Internet fever
    and the rapid stock market
Where are we heading?
  • we ain’t there yet…
  • still hearing lots of criticism
  • there are lots of problems related to slowness, security,
    under/over regulation, and potential overload
  • this shouldn’t concern us as eventually Net will handle them –
    but this takes time
  • but despite problems, a critical mass has been reached – we
    must acknowledge the sheer magnitude of an expanding base of true
    believers
Nothing but Net
  • there is controversy over how many regular users there are but
    no controversy about the fact that the Internet is coming at us
    like tidal a wave
  • it’s hard to exaggerate importance
  • it’s opening communications to masses and quickly racing
    toward full-fledged status as commercial medium
So What About Schools?

  • is it really a technological revolution?
  • since late 70’s, billions of dollars and words have been spent
  • in the 1995/96 academic year alone, tech spending in
    K&endash;12 public schools was $4 billion – twice the amount spent
    on textbooks
So what’s the problem?
  • we have endured years of hype and hope for electronic
    education, most of which has been undertaken with the very best of
    intentions
  • unfortunately, the primary focus has been on tool and hardware
    du jour
  • as a result, the revolution is still not here – why?
  • we primarily focused on the tool not the application of the
    tool to curriculum
  • we can’t blame a pencil if a child can’t read or do math – and
    we can’t blame the technology for failing
  • the problem lies mainly with curriculum and teaching
    strategies
  • so how does this relate to the Internet?
  • it’s déjà vu all over again!
What about the Internet?
  • 90% of classrooms in America today don’t have access
  • beyond that, classrooms are limited by the available equipment
    as only 12% of computers in schools today are capable of Graphical
    User Interface access to the Internet
  • 35-50% of schools have some access but this is usually a
    single station located in a classroom, the office or the library
  • this is like having a single pencil for the entire school and
    expecting everyone to become pencil literate
Where are we heading?

  • only 9% of classes have access (which is up from 3% in 1994)
    but this will change quickly based on trends about Internet access
    outside of education
  • but based on the trends outside of schools, let’s extrapolate
  • 5 years from now – do you think that there will be more, less,
    or the same level of access for students?
So what’s the problem then?
  • it’s not about access – this will happen
  • very few doubt the power and potential of age-appropriate tech
    to transform education
  • the problem won’t be access to computers or the Internet
  • no – the real problem is about the focus
What’s wrong?
  • instructional technology holds enormous potential for
    instruction and learning allowing access for any student in their
    native language to a world that they are very comfortable with
  • it provides opportunities to take digital field trips and
    access to world-wide resources
  • this isn’t the problem – it’s the mindset that we’re applying
    to the technology
  • we need to prepare for this new world – and we need a new
    mindset that focuses on a new curriculum and new teaching
    strategies
How is it being used today?

  • for most we use a proximal learning model – we put students
    close to the technology and hope or assume that somehow they will
    learn by osmosis – unfortunately, more often than not this does
    not happen
  • the problem is that kids know more than teachers so the kids
    define the context and content
  • so where do they go? to Wrestlemania, the Scooby Doo home
    page, the NBA online, to live chat lines and to the Doom home page
So what’s the problem?
  • most schools today are little more than ISPs because students
    and teachers are using Internet services without an instructional
    context
  • we have to ask whether this new media to be used for higher
    level learning or will it just become a new generation of
    educational Nintendo?
What skills are needed?
  • skills needed to effectively utilize Internet are little
    different than those used in a library – the only difference is
    that we have new technology, but despite this, we’re applying an
    old mindset
  • whatever the medium, users need a set of analytical skills to
    process this information – but schools have never really mastered
    teaching of information literacy
It’s not the tool, it’s the task
  • tools have no meaning without context – if I give you a
    shovel, you have no idea what the context is – but if I give you a
    shovel and tell you to dig a ditch, it has a context
  • the Internet is a great tool, but for what?
  • and this the crux of the problem – many teachers just give
    students the Internet and then get out of the way
  • this is a case of leap of faith, proximal learning!
  • as a result, we are simply replicating old problems and
    processes with new technology – now we get animated, full color
    meaningless, gratuitous information more quickly – this is not
    learning!
  • for learning to take place, it must do so inside a context
The problem transcends technology
  • in the past, we gave kids an assignment on Saturn and got back
    the Encyclopedia Britannica
  • along came optical disc technology – we gave kids an
    assignment on Saturn and got back the Grolier’s Multimedia
    Encyclopedia
  • now we give kids an assignment on Saturn and we get back the
    Internet
  • this is simply information bulimia – they suck up the
    information and spit it out with little consideration of what it
    means – as a result, many of our students are suffering from
    intellectual and informational anorexia
  • schools think that if they’re connected, they’re doing it
What’s wrong?
  • instructional technology and Internet are being used to gather
    raw data but much of the writing and research is garbage
  • information is not knowledge; and computer literacy doesn’t
    necessarily cultivate information literacy
  • it appears that the Internet breeds a kind of intellectual
    laziness
  • the ability to find and list data is no substitute for
    figuring out how to organize information
  • as a consequence, even in schools with full connections
    students can surf the Net but can’t move beyond visiting home
    pages
Geraldoization of information
  • the Internet is a wasteland of unedited data without any
    pretense of completeness – it lacks editors, reviewers, and
    critics – as a consequence it is predominantly not information,
    but noise
  • the problem is that this is not recognized by most students
    and teachers
  • this is the crux of problem – people have not been able to get
    beyond oohing and aahing about sites and suffering from terminal
    technodrool
  • as a consequence, we really need to shift gears… because
    it’s not the Internet, it’s the information that’s important
What is needed?

  • people need more than just raw data – they must look beyond
    the data for significance
  • what skills are needed to see significance of data?
An example
  • the Captain Picard model of problem solving
  • how and when does he use technology?
  • only when he has a task to do
  • he asks a question of the computer based on a problem
  • access to technology is transparent
  • he then analyzes the data retrieved and turns it into
    knowledge
  • then applies the knowledge to solve the problem
  • then assesses process_ he has undertaken
5 Stages of Information Literacy
  • Ask
  • Access
  • Analyze
  • Apply
  • Assess
Stage 1 – Ask

  • comes out of a problem
  • if you don’t have a problem, you don’t have a question
  • at this stage you are defining problem
  • problem solving fosters ownership of learning
Stage 2 – Access
  • strategies more important than tools
  • use driven by context created by questions
  • searching techniques used to locate information
  • techniques are media independent
Stage 3 – Analyze
  • how credible is the information
  • need to use the tripod model of analyzing – the stool won’t
    stand unless it has 3 legs so the information can’t be trusted
    unless there are 3 corroborating sources
  • students must be able to look at information critically
Stage 4 – Apply
  • use information to solve problem, write essay, do report,
    create graph, complete argument, make presentations
  • at this stage, you must take what you’ve got and create
    products
  • need to submit both raw material and analysis
  • access is nothing if you can’t both analyze and apply what you
    have obtained – to do this you need both technical and conceptual
    skills
Stage 5 – Assess

  • have original goals been met?
  • what has been learned?
  • not just what has been learned but also how it was learned?
  • how could process or product be improved?
This is what the Internet needs to be about!

Information literacy

  • transcends Internet
  • applies equally well to magazines, newspapers, textbooks,
    CD-ROMs
  • it’s not the tool, it’s the task
  • it’s an issue of headware not hardware
It’s not the Internet, it’s the information
  • what we have is data explosion not knowledge explosion
  • we have the best educated, least prepared generation
  • we need the tools but we can’t stop there
  • we need repeated opportunities within formal, structured
    informational context
Achieving information literacy
  • students need to work with the information resources that will
    bombard them throughout life
  • this is not just about the ability to read and regurgitate
    facts – it’s about knowing where to find facts and then how to use
    them
  • it’s about using real-life information resources for solving
    real-world problems
  • my greatest fear is that if students view and use the Internet
    the way they view and use encyclopedias and CD-ROMs, we will
    continue to get what we’ve always got
It’s time to shift gears

  • we must move students and teachers from a quantitative to
    qualitative mindset
  • it’s not how much information they have, it’s how much
    knowledge they’ve gained
Making the shift
  • the bottom line is that it’s not what you use but how you use
    it

NECC Tuesday’s Sessions, Tue, Jul 1, 1997

Steve Wozniak – Creativity in the Classroom

Felicia Oram – What Does Television “Edutainment” Do for the
Classroom

Editor for Bill Nye (Post Production)

Collaborative Process

Tv + science + entertainment

Mission to raise science curiosity In 4-7 grade when kids
start to turn away from science.

This Is also the age where student make independent Tv
choices.

No we don’t give out t-shirts

Companion to classroom environment. 1 subject Per show + a
curriculum path for season.

Curriculum and science advisors pick 2 to 3 concepts.

Background sheets 10-12 pages. Comedy and science writers
cneate content and directors rewrite everything.

Show Organization

  • Start with tease.
  • Continuous rotation not a 1 time experience.
  • Bill Nye open
  • The Walk
  • Big demo
  • Anything short that doesn’t have Bill in it
  • Rest of Show is fast Bill and fast kids
  • “Check it out”
  • “way cool scientist”
  • ” Music video”
  • prat falls
  • see-say technigue
  • chanel surf feel, static and jump cuts
Funded by NSF, PBS, Disney

Off air rights for teachers to tape and use in classrooms

2 versions one for PBS no Commercials other from syndication
(3min off)

Syndication has Shorter tease and some other cuts.

18:1 shoot rate can be as high as 30:1

4 directors and 2nd film unit

Avid video (Mac)

Cut List made using compress low res Video Using frame index. This
is a compromise of Resolution vs Storage. 32GB barely holds 1show.
500-800 edit per show. Digital Editing can give you the temptation to
do everything. The final adjustments boost primary Colours to give
cartoon look.

Well Connected Educator- Gwen Solomon

Beyond the firewall

66% of corporations are Inside Intranets (1996 survey)

TCP/IP-Content Irrelevent

fully scallable and cross platform

Info Services

Clients – freely availible

Authoring tools-

  • Open standards
  • Ubiquitous
  • Ease of use
  • Scalable

From The Net by Bill Kempthorne

This space is intended to bring to your attention some of the more useful things that you can find on the internet. Specifically I will be mentioning WWW sites for educational use. If you have any you think should be shared please send the address to me at <billk@wimsey.com>

This months notables

The Ministry of Education has started posting Exams an Answer Keys for previous Provincial Exams (1995 only right now) under the Examination and Assessment Branch Listing of the Ministry’s Web Site. The full address is;
http://www.educ.gov.bc.ca/.exams/www/exsection.html

While I’m mentioning Ministry resources, the IRPs, ILOs, and all the other letters of the alphabet are available at the Curriculum Branches Page at;
http://www.educ.gov.bc.ca/.curriculum/www/home/hpage.html

The neatest part about this is you can save the information by using the “Save as” command under the File Menu of you Web Browser (ie: Netscape) and you have an electronic version of the curriculum that you can manipulate. I use it to create my new course outlines and for unit plans. Great Stuff!

To avoid typing all of the address you can just go to
www.educ.gov.bc.ca and navigate from there.

A few others worth checking out
Want to see some of the Bill Nye Science Stuff Check out his web site at
http://www.seanet.com/Vendors/billnye/nyelabs.html
All the info from the CBC including some great Science and Current Events Programs
www.cbc.com
A rather good index to see what other schools are doing is the BC Education Server
http://137.82.136.19/

And just for fun; If you want to see what the seats you are buying for that Canucks Game look like check out the GM Place Seating Plan at
www.orcabay.com

More fun next month. All this info will be availible on my web site at
www.wimsey.com/~billk

.. The end of the beginning. Schools and Internet Content Provision

The initial skirmishes in the electronic information wars have been completed. It now should be apparent to most that internetworking and the internet (TCP/IP) standards have won. Even attempts by giants such as Microsoft and Compuserve to develop and hold proprietary information systems have been lost to the wider internet movement. Now that the internet has established itself in major institutions and in growing numbers in homes, the question whether schools should access and use the internet is moot. The internet is a fact just as newspapers, video, computers, and television.
The question being asked is what will schools get from the internet. With the proliferation of internet, specifically World Wide Web (WWW), sites, there is a large question around the value of the information that is available on the free internet. The term ‘free internet’ was given meaning in a recent presentation by Jamie MacKenzie (http://www.fromnowon.org) where he distinguished between sources that the Bellingham School District paid to access using internet tools and the general WWW. The value of the free internet is minimal in many education situations because of the difficulty for students to easily find relevant information using the search tools generally available. In most case preresearch is necessary so that the internet information can be retrieved expeditiously. This may be done by the student but in many cases this will be job of the teacher. This is a keen problem in schools that have limited bandwidth internet connections. In these cases the limited access has to be shared by many giving little time to develop information by exploration and discovery.
Starting Points
The ability of teachers to develop starting point pages on the internet that their students can go to and have direct access to relevant information is one answer to how to use the internet. By making the starting points part of the internet, students can access it from school or home. In many schools, home internet access is the only place for students to do indepth research. This also frees up the school resource for use by students that don’t have home access. With the initial starting points there will be need for elaboration and guidance. With one very small step, the school and the teacher move from internet users to internet content providers. This aspect of the internet could be more powerful for schools than any of the information currently available on the free internet.
Schools are in a unique position in their communities. In urban areas elementary and secondary school names are the major landmarks of what used to be an autonomous community. In newer areas, the positioning of schools define the community that will grow up round them. This ability of a school to define a community need not be limited to symbology of name. In the development on any aspect of human communications their have been standard bearers that show the potential of the genre. The rhetoric of Plato, the poetry of Keats, the oratory of Churchill, the films of Kapra, or the electronic journalism of Cronkite have served to define the role of the method.
Schools can be the standard bearers of their communities into the information age. For the most part schools operate independent of the profit motivations of business interests and lack the political aspects of governments. Public schools still represent a cross section of interests, biases, economic levels, and political ideas. While no institution can be bias-free, schools have the potential for equal representation.
Schools can bring to the internet aspects of the community from mundane tourist information to profound questions of public interest. The ease of this role is apparent if we consider that this is what we do already. In classrooms everywhere, questions are asked and answered about art, science, geography, economics, and history. The value in the past has only extended to the classroom wall or the fridge door at home. Whether it is the health of the local salmon stream or the history of a local heritage building, the ability to display the work of students and teachers in a broader forum is a valuable information source for our communities. This has to be done with a mind to the privacy and property of the creators of this information but in most cases these are easy to accomplish with the correct level of forethought.
This brings us to the point where schools will not simply use the internet but be major contributors to it. This will happen for four very good reasons. It makes sense for the school because it shows people in a concrete way what happens on a daily basis behind the walls of their local school. It makes sense for the community because it develops interest and gives identity on a large scale. It makes sense for the students because it helps show them and others that what they do has value beyond the mark at the bottom of the page. It makes sense for teachers because it moves them along the road to creating meaning for their students.
So if the first skirmish of the information age is over have no fear, there will be more. The best we can say, in the spirit of past standard bearers of human discourse; “It is not the beginning of the end but it may, in fact, be the end of the beginning”

Bill Kempthorne (billk@chill.org) is the Physics Teacher at Chilliwack Senior Secondary (http://www.chill.org)  in Chilliwack, B.C.

Internet, So What? (responses)

I appreciated your article in computer paper; provides a sound forum on which student/educator/librarian must continue feeding reasoned goals

*************************************************************
Internet, So What?

Bill Kempthorne (billk@wimsey.com) was the author of this Opinion in the September 96 The Computer Paper (BC edition). As it asks for rebuttals in his end bio, here is my opinions on the article.

(1) One point in the article raises the issue of Bill’s cat having his own WWW page, and in that anyone can be sort of a producer of material on the Internet. Isn’t the ability for example of a small business to have a WWW page like a big corporation one of the good points? And with the ability for anyone to be a producer of material without owning a TV network or printing press while still reaching a large market.

(2) I also find that for a person fearing the hype of the Internet would fall into the “hype” of even suggesting the Internet is the Information Highway is amusing.

(3) Another point brought up in the article is that you are just dropped into the Internet and only get information by accident. While that might be true in some sense… I think that there are several facilities available for people to either get help and search out information specifically.

(4) The mention of “the fax is a more robost medium than the Internet” is unnerving. It mentions the ability of a fax to carry pictures and signatures. I’m not sure if he is referring to some sort of electronic signature, but I’ll assume it’s the old John Hancock. Anyways.. if I told him that you could send the things listed above on the Internet, would it still be more of a robust medium?

(5) I also find that the order in quality of writing to be Letter->Fax->Internet is wrong. When the letter doesn’t have a 47 cent stamp does it somehow lose value?

(6) I really like the “reliability” issue raised once again in the “Internet as Television” section. I find it a ridiculous arguement to hold producers of information on the Internet to some high standard… There is some thought to using your own brain and cross-referencing to ensure the information is correct. Just because there is some graffiti on the wall of some building, doesn’t mean I think it’s legitimate. The talk about how when someone mails from a university or company e-mail address that it makes it “tough to distinguish the organizational information from the individual opinion” is beyond me. The site address can be equated to letterhead… for example, I can go fake a copy of some big company and write a letter.. would you think, “OH, it’s GM’s position that Quebec should leave..” And whether this means people should have two seperate accounts, that’s not a bad idea. Company stationary, personal stationary.

(7) “The people on the fringes -university and high school students or some kid using his parent’s account…” I always thought mass media was stereotyping younger people… but all this time it’s the damn teachers.

(8) A point is raised in that you wouldn’t want talk shows or prime time real life dramas in the school classroom. While I agree that schools should take a look at their approach in respect to the Internet… this point is like saying you can’t have a telephone in the school because someone could possibly call a phone sex line. And you know anyone can get a telephone… well you say you can block out the 1-900 lines.. what if someone offered a free service from a local number? Well at least we have Net Nanny (bahaha) that can intercept specific words… to my knowledge nothing has been mass marketed to intercept specific words for a phone line.

I don’t have time to finish my little analysis… but anyhow, as a fringe of society I better not waste anymore bandwith. =)

I’ve posted my letter to can.infohighway to generate more discussion as I would like to become more informed on the subject… and hear other people’s opinions.

+——————————-+—————————————–+ | Lawrence D. Lee | Support the US citizens protesting CDA |
| lalee@freenet.vancouver.bc.ca | and make sure it doesn’t happen here! | | Full Time CST BCIT (Sept ’95) | One resource: read comp.org.eff.talk | | Vancouver FreeNet Volunteer +—————————————–+ | Vancouver, BC CANADA | #*# Oh Canada! Our home and native land |
+——————————-+—————————————–+
*************************************************************
This senior high school English teacher thoroughly enjoyed your article.

The question of whether the Internet should be used in the classroom reminds me of the question some decades ago about using TV in the classroom. TV has never been comfortable in the traditional classroom, mainly because its content refused the neat containment that books offered for centuries. TV not only made traditional book reading an unsatisfying experience for many, it challenged the very physical nature of what we call ‘classroom’. If TV had a psyche, it would be completely stressed out like so many teachers. We have yet to really come to create relevant space for education in the TV age. And now the internet. What has to happen to prod us into dealing seriously with the questions you raised in your article? There are many other points I’d love to make, but for now, suffice to say Many Thanks.
mrcCongratulations on your Computer Paper article on the intenet. It should be required reading for all B.C. teachers. I am asking my wife, who is a Surrey elementary teacher, to post it in her staff room. Please let me know when and where to find your upcoming publication that was cited in CP.
I am co-chair of the NDP Education Policy Committee and am on constant alert for people (especially teachers) who might be interested in participating. Should you ever be interested in such a possibility, please post me a note.

Jim Johnson
*************************************************************
Thank you for writing Internet, So What?

in the September Computer Paper. It’s right-on to my way of thinking. I teach grade 6-8 at Citadel Middle School in Port Coquitlam. I have been in the computer bus/industry since the late 1960’s. I am 43 years old and I think pretty progressive. However I recently commented to our teachers over our district E-mail that there seemed to be a lot of chatter about getting better access to the Internet NOW! NOW! NOW! if not yesterday. My suggestion was that for now, as Crawford Lilian, whom I disagree with for the most part, most often, is quite right when he says in his book “Visions 2020” “there is a tremendous amount of neat stuff out there however there is a mountain of garbage to sift through before you can get to it”.

I mentioned to our teachers-on-line that while I was working again down at Microsoft this summer I noticed one thing about the interest in development for the Internet there. That was, that it is something that will not really be a viable, useful market for at least 24 if not 36 months. My suggestion is, that instead of pumping our tech-monies at better access lines for WWW access, we continue to try to get as many kids exchanging inter-district E-mail ideas and discussions on current curricular topics. I tried to say that the Internet is somewhat faddish but you put it better and I will pass on your article to district staff with the high-lighted quote, “new is better, more is better, also your, TV broadcast analogy.

Thanks once again for this. Lance Read LREAD@schdist43.bc.ca
*************************************************************
Great job on the article! In it you say the media is a reasonably reliable source of information! I think that the media is no longer a reliable source of information because they rely to much on advertising for there source revenue and REVENUE is there game today NOT news.
*************************************************************
Dear TCP

I have just finished reading Bill Kempthorne’s “Internet, So What?” article. I agree with him about the irresponsibility of many of the people who use the Internet, and thought I would tell of an occurence that I was involved with recently.

I am the president of a national sports organization, the Canadian Powerlifting Union, and recently had the unfortunate duty of informing one of our members, who is a lower leg amputee, that he could no longer participate in “able-bodied” events. As an amputee he had been competing in the Bench Press competitions. Our parent international body had clarified a ruling to us, stating that a prosthesis is not legal equipment, according to the rules of the sport, and that with out it the athlete could not have two “shoes” on the floor, also required. A Catch 22, if you will, and certainly not in keeping with a modern societies wish to allow full access to the disabled. We protested this ruling, indicating that we wanted to see the disabled be allowed to compete on the same level as able bodied athletes, though for the present we knew we were obligated to enforce the ruling.

Now the athlete in question and myself are both subscribers to an Internet email list-serv mailing list, devoted to weightlifting. Similar to a newsgroup, a list-serv is a more direct service where letters are sent in to a central moderator, who assembles them all together and mails them all together back to all of the lists subscribers. The athlete decided to retaliate by posting a letter to the list-serv that was decidedly one-sided, and implied that this decision had been made by myself and the rest of the Canadian executive of the sport. The tone of the letter was that we were a bunch fascists, who cared little for the disabled, and would not lift a finger to help them. The reality, of course was much different. We have always encouraged the participation of the disabled, and all of our provincial groups have assisted disabled groups for many years. I myself have coached a team of blind weightlifters for the past 6 years. He closed this letter by telling everyone to send any comments to my email address.

Well I received many comments, some of them most unfriendly, from around the world. One from Israel indirectly compared me to Hitler, and all were from people “shocked, disgusted, embarrased” and so on by our “racist, discriminatory, and narrow-minded” attitude. A few days afterwards I posted my rebuttal, telling all of our real attitude, and that we were doing everything we could to see this rule changed. My inbox was very quiet. Just a couple of apologies.

But the point to be learned here surely goes back a long way. When people first started to read things in newspapers, they must have reasoned that a newspaper could not print something that was not true. If it is in print it must be true, right? This attitude is still very prevalent today. So does this mean that if it come across your desk on your computer screen rather than hard copy that it must be equally “true”? As Bill Kempthorne says, any one with a minimum of means can access and input information to the Internet, regardless of the value or truth of it, and now seemingly regardless of the potential damage to an individual or organization. I do not know how much of the sport community was able to learn of this, but it cannot have done anything but harm to our until now, unblemished international reputation. In the print and video media there are laws and regulations to prevent slanderous charges being made. Perhaps the time has come when this is also needed for the Internet.

Mike Armstrong
President, Canadian Powerlifting Union
armstcpu@oanet.com
http://www.tgx.com/cpu/cpu.htm

*************************************************************
As one who is just trying to get acquainted with the Internet and who is wondering what the hype is about, I found your article in COMPUTER PAPER, Toronto, September 1995, most interesting. I cannot say that I have learned to surf and can give a sound judgment on your opinions because I have not been willing to put in the vast amount of time to go through list upon list, in order to get to some morsel of information. Do you have any suggestions for shortcuts? I am a conservative college professor of English, interested in such mundane things as current events, social issues, health and environmental issues and the like.

Erma Collins

Internet – So What? The road , not the superhighway, ahead.

A cynic, by nature, must take a pessimistic view of events. In the last few articles I have attempted to take such a view of the internet. I do not dislike telecommunications but I do fear the ‘new is better’, ‘more is better’ view that seems to be developed around the internet. It seems to have found a niche in our societal desire for ‘infotainment’ There is nothing particularly wrong with this approach but it does provide some limitations to what we can use the internet for. No one would suggest showing daytime television talk shows, or prime time ‘real life’ dramas in the school classroom. Yet the goal of bringing internet into the schools is accepted with little discussion and no real plan on how to use it.
Those that choose to bring internet into their homes face similar problems. The reliance on it as an information source has some major problems. The use of it as an entertainment source is fine but individually isolating. While we create  a global communtiy through electronic telecommunications are we neglecting our local community. If so, at what cost. If not, then what are we trying to create in our ‘global village’. I profess no answers, and probably more questions than most, but the questions need to be asked.

I think the first field will be the classroom for the answering of these questions. The classroom is where society chooses to inculcate its young in knowledge, tradition, customs, and expectations. The application of the internet in that environment will shape how the future of the internet will shape our society.

Is the internet to be an information source?

Is the information to be a solely commercial domain?

Is the internet to be an entertainment source?

Can the internet be all of these?
In a system where physical seperations do not exist the need to find mental seperators are critical. Without these information, entertainment, and comercial enterprise would merge into a vast blur.
The Plan.
Bill Kempthorne (billk@wimsey.com) is a Math/Physics teacher at Mountain Secondary in Langley, B.C. He has a soon to be published thesis on Computers in the Grade Eight to Ten classroom and a semi-regular contributor to user group newsletters and similar publications. Electronic rebutals are accepted in the manner offered at the above address.

The view expressed here should be treated as the sole opinion of the writer except were specific quotations or references are cited. Permission to reproduce for individual educational use is granted, all other rights reserved WAK&CO ©1995

Internet-Who Cares? Part II, Internet as Television

While the internet is a powerful tool of two way communications. The power can be turned to one-way communications if the sender chooses. This follows a television analogy of broadcast media.
As with regular television, the internet has its share of PBSes and Geraldos. To be a good consumer of television you must be a critical viewer of both the source and the content. Unfortunately, the history of good television consumers is sadly limited. The chance of developing the good skills will be nearly impossible in the hysteria of the internet. This means, as educators, parents, or regular consumers, we must start a process now that asks the questions that need to be asked of information providers.
The need to consider the source of all information on the internet is vital. Established sources such as universities, libraries, and government agencies can be considered reasonably reliable. After that, media sources such as CNN, reuters, and major broadcasters can be considered as reliable as you local paper. Then comes the free-for-all. The major problem is that individuals can write personal opinions or views but because they are part of a big organisation it may be tough to distinguish the organisational information from the individual opinion. It is normally the policy in most large institutions for people, university professors, employees of government, to state clearly that ‘this is a personal opinion and should not be considered the position of …” The people on the fringes, university and high school students or some kid using his parents account, are tougher to distinguish and are less likely to be explicit about their position.
The result is that information on the internet can not be considered wholly reliable. This runs against most peoples tendency to accept electronic reporting, news, TV, radio, as a reasonable facsimile of the truth.
Another major problem is it is almost impossible to distinguish the motivation and the character of those providing the information. This is furthur compounded by our tendency to what to believe first hand information. If we hear a voice or see a picture from Bosnia we accept it as an accurate report going on. On the internet your could be getting direct information from Bosnia or any other hot spot on a real time basis. It is possible that the person may not be in Bosnia at all. Even if they were, are they serb, moslem,or croat? What is their motivation? Are they part of a government propaganda machine? The questions are endless and almost impossible to answer. The internet also has a facility for anonymity. This makes an information judgment almost impossible.
These detrimental factors do not overshadow the shear power of the media. The largest example is in “access to information”. Many governments now have laws that require it to make documents freely available. The internet provides governments with a cheap are reasonably reliable delivery source. This will certainly be cheaper than providing paper copies to anyone that requests it. Unfortunately, this will exclude those with out the ability or means to access this form  of information.

Recently (Spring ‘95), with little fanfare, the largest part of the internet were handed over to commercial interests. The internet, which was originally a education and research network for academics and government, had been created in the US by the National Science Foundation after taking over the basics from the Department of Defence. This was an attempt by the government to divest itself of the physical management of the wires that make the internet possible. While there is nothing particularly wrong with this, and many taxpayers would claim several things right, it does mark a fundamental shift in the internet as a structure. Not long ago, there were rules forbidding “for profit” activity on the internet. Now, a significant minority if not a majority of the traffic is commercial in nature. This should change our view of the internet. It is not a public utility or even a commercial utility. There are no rules about what can or can not go on the internet. A legal standards are almost impossible to enforce on a global link such as this.
As a user you need to ask; why is this information here? what is the motivation of those that are providing it? and what are the implications of using it. The best analogy is; how would you feel about television if any of your neighbours could put up a transmitter and broadcast whatever they want.
Bill Kempthorne (billk@wimsey.com) is a Math/Physics teacher at Mountain Secondary in Langley, B.C. He has a soon to be published thesis on Computers in the Grade Eight to Ten classroom and a semi-regular contributor to user group newsletters and similar publications. Electronic rebutals are accepted in the manner offered at the above address.
The view expressed here should be treated as the sole opinion of the writer except were specific quotations or references are cited. Permission to reproduce for individual educational use is granted, all other rights reserved WAK&CO ©1995

Internet – So What? Part I Internet as Telephone.

In my last musing on this topic I discussed the uses of the internet in the most general sense. In this and subsequent articles I want to bring out individual uses and the appropriateness and their pitfalls. On the way, I hope to raise questions in your mind and my own about how we can use this resource.
The internet as a technology allows for the exchange of information across vast distances and disparate computer systems. This is only useful to the extent that it connects people. This is probably the most appropriate use of the internet. It is usually overshadowed by more glitzy applications with graphics, sound and video.
The internet at it heart is just a stream of text travelling down a wire. While that type of information can be rather limiting, it covers a vast array of the most common types of communications. It is in effect a format of a letter with the immediacy of the telephone. A fax is the closest comparison but a fax can carry pictures and signatures. This makes a fax a more robust medium than the internet.
The internet does have some unique features. The speed of transmission, or perceived immediacy, cause people who use the internet to type like they talk rather than type like they write. The implications for the English language should be of concern to all. If dashing off a fax replaced composing a letter, then what will slapping together a email do? This runs against the normal conclusion that more written work should improve language. You have to question the direction and quality of language under such circumstances.
The overall advantage is the spread of ideas, information, and thoughts between people that would not otherwise correspond. The result is a free flow of ideas with little moderation or control. The problem is that all ideas are presented as roughly equal merit until the writer themselves prove otherwise. This is a valuable and necessary condition for a mass medium that all people should be able to access. The problems with this are already starting to arise. In the frontier world of the internet the bandits are as rampant as they ever were in the old west. As an educator that would like to see students have access to the internet this is of great concern to me.
The other result is volume. The shear number of messages flashing across the internet is incomprehensible. This is interesting because the volume and tone of many discussions make it possible for political and social movements to be born and developed outside the view of a large portion of the population. Those without access to the internet could be excluded from important cultural discussions.
This should be a concern to all of us. While the solutions are complicated and sometimes nebulous, a concerted effort must be made to find them. Ideal like Freenets and publicly sponsored internet access, through libraries and schools, are a large step toward this goal.
The ability of the internet to connect people is powerful and pervasive but it is not universal.
Bill Kempthorne (billk@wimsey.com) is a Math/Physics teacher at Mountain Secondary in Langley, B.C. He has a soon to be published thesis on Computers in the Grade Eight to Ten classroom and a semi-regular contributor to user group newsletters and similar publications. Electronic rebutals are accepted in the manner offered at the above address.
The view expressed here should be treated as the sole opinion of the writer except were specific quotations or references are cited. Permission to reproduce for individual educational use is granted, all other rights reserved WAK&CO ©1995

It's about the little things now.