541 – Social Networking and the Walled Garden

The concept of walled gardens is not unique to the Internet and can be extended to include many examples through history where rules are made to protect us from ourselves. Censorship, in the guise of protection, is evident throughout history when governments or religious organizations have controlled the flow of information or eliminated the expression of perceived subversive ideas, usually with the intent of suppressing dissent.

Opponents for a free and open Internet in schools would argue that the potential is too great  for students misusing the capabilities of the web, inadvertently exposing themselves to victimization from Internet predators, or simply viewing inappropriate material. I would agree that the potential is there, however the question is, does this negative potential outweigh the potential impact for learning? In my opinion the potential benefit of an open and freely accessible Internet is greater than the risks. Students must be educated on Internet safety; they must be made aware of the dangers, how to protect themselves, and careful, age appropriate monitoring of their online behavior should be in place. Given these circumstances students can safely harness the potential of the web for learning.

One of the most common areas of restriction in “walled gardens” is social networks. Through the media, the public has been inundated with stories of situations where young people and adults have been exploited by cyber criminals found in social media websites such as Facebook, or Twitter. There is no doubt that these situations occur and sometimes with terrible consequences, however it all once again comes down to education and supervision. Restricting student access to social media in school translates, in the minds of students, to another example of how school life is not a reflection of real life. Using social media to connect students “both face to face and virtually, from a variety of backgrounds to work together to solve a common problem” (Cofino, 2009) has global impact, builds empathy, and creates cultural awareness that could not be achieved any other way.

As Jose Picardo states in an article titled: Microblogging: making the case for social networking in education, “More and more people, not just our students, are becoming aware of the power of belonging to a network: each individual member contributes a small part, so that the resulting body of knowledge is much greater than that which any individual member could have amassed on their own. This is why the social internet has become so successful: groups of people have clumped together forming networks, generally because of some sort of affinity or shared interest, and have started communicating and passing on information that matters to them” (Picardo, 2010). Blocking students from this type of opportunity in schools, when it is readily available everywhere else, seems counterproductive.

Schools should reflect the world we live in today. And we live in a social world. We need to teach students how to be effective collaborators in that world, how to interact with people around them, how to be engaged, informed twenty-first-century citizens. (Smith, 2007)

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Smith, Fran. (2007) Edutopia.org. How to Use Social Networking Technology for Learning. Retreived March 6, 2012 from: http://www.edutopia.org/how-use-social-networking-technology

Cofino, Kim. (2009) Always Learning. How to Connect Your Students Globally. Retrieved March 6, 2012 from: http://kimcofino.com/blog/2009/10/04/how-to-connect-your-students-globally/

Picardo, Jose.(2010) Technology and Education Box of Tricks. Microblogging: Making the Case for Social Networking in Education. Retrieved March 6, 2012 from: http://www.boxoftricks.net/2010/02/microblogging-making-the-case-for-social-networking-in-education/

513 – Podcast

My podcast series will provide adult learners with weekly lessons on how to play the saxophone. The concept I have in mind would be targeting adults who always wanted to learn how to play an instrument, but don’t have time to take private lessons. The series start with an historical introduction to the instrument and the basics of putting it together, where to place the fingers and how to form the embouchure. With the podcast learners would be able to listen, pause, and playback segments with the goal of familiarizing the student and allowing them to produce a sound after the first episode. The podcast format will allow me to provide examples of what it should sound like for the learner to use as reference.

Subsequent episodes of the podcast would teach and demonstrate specific techniques of how to play the instrument, how and what to practice, and provide suggestions for artists and recordings to go to that demonstrate great technique and sound.

I have worked with music files and recording a great deal in the past, but had no idea you could create a podcast, host it in dropbox and have it subscribe-able in itunes. This technique has some real potential for my classroom instruction. Currently I have students create podcasts on a variety of topics but we were uploading them to their student website; this way we can collect and maintain a class set of podcasts hosted on itunes that we can all subscribe to…awesome!

541 – Spreadsheets and Data Bases in Education

“Software tools are increasingly popular, in part because they address both productivity and instructional needs and in part because they can support both directed or constructivist learning activities.” (Roblyer, Doring, 2008) It is the versatility and simplicity of  spreadsheet and data base software that makes it particularly useful in an educational setting.

Spreadsheets and Databases have been around almost since the beginning of the personal computer and have been two thirds of the big three in terms of productivity applications on computers the third being word processing. These three applications were developed to make the creation of documents and storage and retrieval of data more efficient. The relative advantage to the use of these applications in educations starts with their ability to save time, contain and display a large amount of information and continues to their ability to quickly see the results of  variables to a result. Spreadsheets and databases can contain information that can be used by students to analyze a problem or issue and instantly see the results of a change to that data. Data bases and spreadsheets  can reveal answers to students through the study of data and their differences. This inquiry based approach to spreadsheets and databases encourages the hypothesis, investigation, conclusion approach to learning.


Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Creating My Learning Log – 513

Create a new post, calling it “Creating My Learning Log,” discussing how you used a blogging platform to create a website. Include information on how this activity aligns with the AECT Standard(s) you included on the post label.

This learning log was created in my first semester of study at Boise State University as a way to keeping track of, and reflect on the learning activities within the course work. I have posted comments and displayed work here from each course I have taken over the past year. The use of the wordpress blogging platform is an easily accessible strategy for students to create content, generate discussion, gather feedback and display their work to the world. Through the use of tags and categories students can keep track of posts and access material quickly. By using an RSS feeds students can also keep track of posts from classmates and access those posts to reply. WordPress offers many free templates for users to customize the look and feel of their site, with new templates developed by users being offered continually. Of course, the biggest advantage to the use of a blogging platform to set up a website is that there is no cost and students do not need coding knowledge or a subscription to a web hosting service. Students can use the many widgets available to customize their site and embed images, audio, and video material directly on their site.

With the ease and convenience of a blog platform to develop a website students and teachers will address many of the AECT standards in learning. Teachers and students can use the the website to design and develop engaging, interactive instruction and multimedia responses that demonstrate learning. The management standard is addressed as students and teachers organize and manage information that is used on their web page to organize project material and deliver content in an easily accessible manner.

2.3 Computer-Based Technologies
Computer-based technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials using microprocessor-based resources.

AECT Standards

Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to design conditions for learning by applying principles of instructional systems design, message design, instructional strategies, and learner characteristics.

Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to develop instructional materials and experiences using print, audiovisual, computer-based, and integrated technologies.

Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to use processes and resources for learning by applying principles and theories of media utilization, diffusion, implementation, and policy-making.

Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to plan, organize, coordinate, and supervise instructional technology by applying principles of project, resource, delivery system, and information management.

Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to evaluate the adequacy of instruction and learning by applying principles of problem analysis, criterion-referenced measurement, formative and summative evaluation, and long-range planning.

Digital Divide versus Digital Equity – A Canadian Perspective

Over the last hundred years there have been astounding advances in information and communication technologies with access to these technologies, at least initially, being directly related to income levels. It is logical that a lower income household would not purchase a new form of technology unless it is proven to be invaluable. This is the basis for the “Digital Divide” that has existed globally since the introduction of the Internet to our society. The more valuable a commodity proves to be, the quicker the divide closes. Television in Canada, for example grew from almost nothing in 1952 to 10% of households in 1953 to an amazing 80% in 1960, reaching total statistical penetration before the telephone, which was introduced much earlier. Time has proven that the Internet is our most valuable and beneficial form of communication, and with older forms of communication converging onto the Internet it can only increase in value. Consequently, statistics have shown that the digital divide is lessening in relation to economic status. Schools in lower economic and rural areas now have equal access to the Internet. Communities across Canada have equal access to the Internet through government initiatives with some Provinces and Communities building infrastructure to support free wi-fi services to large geographical regions. The result is that in 2011 most people in Canada do have access to the Internet; however, there still remains an inequity between people who simply have access and people who use that access effectively. Thus the term “Digital Divide” has evolved into “Digital Inequity”. It is no longer an issue of access but an issue of who can and will use this access effectively.
Schools may have the ability to provide access to the Internet, but there are inequities between training and instruction in technology in rural and urban areas. A child from a low income family is likely to have access to the Internet at school but not at home. The Internet can be a tool for education and career building, as a result the economically deprived child will not have the same advantages of a child with continuous Internet access, which may further restrict the child’s potential for economic success. The reverse is also true, that students who have proper training in all areas of Internet use will graduate with a distinct advantage over others who have not, creating “digital elitism”.
The inequity continues for people with a low income, low education, unemployed, age, race, single parents, people with disabilities, and gender.
Again, one of the prevailing issues in equality is economics. Service providers will have to charge more in rural or isolated communities simply because they have fewer customers; however, since 1995 the Government of Canada has taken a proactive approach by striving to provide the infrastructure, training, and assistance needed in isolated areas, especially in Northern Aboriginal communities. The government maintains that the Internet is integral for these communities in building opportunities for economic improvement, education, employment, and business and community development. There is little doubt that the inequity exists and that the Internet is an element of our society that has the potential for improving the lives of all people.The question remains; how do we provide equal access in terms of connectivity, training, and constancy for all?
It is imperative that teacher training institutions across the country provide the latest, quality instruction on the use of technology in education followed by consistent, relevant professional development opportunities for teachers as the technology evolves. Government agencies and businesses must recognize the importance of equity in technology education and access by providing economic support for individuals and programs for training. School district policies must look outward to global resources as sources for student learning and understanding.


Barzilai-Nahon, K. (2006). Gaps and bits: Conceptualizing measurements for digital divide/s. The Information Society, 22(5), 269-278. (PDF file)

Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003. (2006). Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006065

Cooper, M. (2004). Expanding the digital divide and falling behind in broadband. Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union. Retrieved from http://www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/digitaldivide.pdf

DiMaggio, P., & Hargittai, E. (2001). From the ‘digital divide’ to ‘digital inequality:’ Studying Internet use as penetration increases. Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Working Paper Series number, 15. Retrieved from http://www.princeton.edu/~arts…gittai.pdf

DiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E., Celeste, C., & Shafer, S. (2004). From unequal access to differentiated use: A literature review and agenda for research on digital inequality. Social Inequality, 355-400. Retrieved from http://www.eszter.com/research…uality.pdf

Hargittai, E. (2003). The digital divide and what to do about it. New Economy Handbook, 821-839. Retrieved from http://www.eszter.com/research…divide.pdf

ITU Country rankings. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.itu.int/net/itunews/issues/2010/03/26.aspx

McConnaughey, J., Nila, C. A., & Sloan, T. (1995). Falling through the net: A survey of the “have nots” in rural and urban America. National Telecommunications And Information Administration. Retrieved from http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fallingthru.html

Howard, P. N., Busch, L., & Sheets, P. (2010). Comparing Digital Divides: Internet Access and Social Inequality in Canada and the United States. Canadian Journal of Communication, 35(1), 109-128.

Adjarkwa-Smillie, C. (2005). Is the Internet A Useful Resource For Indigenous Women Living In Remote Communities In Canada, Australia and New Zealand To Access Health Resources? National Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research. (PDF file)

Sciadas, G. (2000). The Digital Divide In Canada. Science, Innovation, and Electronic Information Division, Statistics Canada. Retrieved from dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/Statcan/…/56F0009XIE2002001.pdf