I guess that when I put more than a couple of minutes into a comment, I may as well take full credit and post it here. Credit goes, however, to Miguel Guhlin, and his latest T&L Blogerati post, Cry Freedom. The Mousing Around author describes how blogging and surveillance software is used to protect us and our students, but the results are a crippling of our technology.
Then, regular commenter, Cheryl Oakes, points out something that stuck a cord with me. She says,
I don’t want to learn the language of programmers, I don’t want to have to think about what happens in the background of the sytsem I am operating. However, this is the wakeup call for me to include more discussions about technology ethics and how we are all part of this new system.
Very clear and too the point. I guess that all I’ve done i to expand on her notions. You can read them, or toss them out with the rest of the varbage.
I agree with what Cheryl says, that the answer is in making the ethical use of information part of using information. It’s why I include Ethics as one of the four elements of the basics, when I describe contemporary literacy. The blocking measures implemented by school districts, and in the case of the U.S., by federal law, is merely a Band-Aid — and Band-Aids aren’t bad, as a temporary measure. But at the risk of sounding like a left wing, bleeding heart, liberal (haven’t said that in a while), the solution is to understand and then erase the behavior, not wall it off. In a rapidly changing, technology-rich world, we’re just going to have to keep making thicker and thicker walls, and this gets us no where.
I clearly remember the days, when a computer in a teacher’s classroom was the teacher’s. She could install what ever software she could get her hands on. One of the popular features of the earliest incarnations of most most ISTE affiliates was a disk of public domain software that was given out at their meetings. Today, you have to go through what seems like a mindless bureaucracy to get software installed on your computer. To be fair, there are good reasons for this. Our tech support staffs are shrinking when they should be growing, and Band-Aids are needed to prevent crippling breakdowns of our technology. So along with teaching the ethical use of information, we should also dramatically increase our tech staff so that schools and teachers can be free to experiment, innovate, and turn their computers back into the tools they’re designed to be — a personal computer.