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Internet home access to low-income families de-fangs savage inequalities

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Posted on 13th January 2010 by Judy Breck in Mobile & Ubiquitous, Mobile Learning and Schools We Have Now

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Home Access scheme to provide internet access to low-income families has gone live in England. Silicon.com reports:“PC giveaway for school kids is go: 270,000 low-income families getting internet access at home courtesy of the government…”  It is hopeful to think about the possibilities here in contrast to my post yesterday about the persistent and deepening savage inequalities for children in failing American schools.

In the piloting for the program in England, the Silicon.com article reports: “A recent Institute of Fiscal Studies report cited by the government also states that having a computer at home could lead to a two-grade improvement in one subject at GCSE.”

The Detroit Free Press laments that: “Most Detroit Public Schools’ fourth- and eighth-graders were unable to score at a basic math level on a national test this year — marking the lowest performance in the history of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.” A two-grade improvement would be huge in Detroit.

A fourth world for Roger Penrose’s diagram

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Posted on 3rd July 2009 by Judy Breck in Networks

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The image posted here is my modification of a drawing from Roger Penrose’s marvelous best selling book The Road to Reality. I have added the dark circle on the upper right, which is a miniature of the depiction of Internet clustering that is illustrated by the new Los Alamos Map of Science.

Surely we can say that the Internet is a new world “out there” in cyberspace. We know that it is a network. It seems to form a natural mirror of more tangible worlds, especially when we let it form in an open way obeying its own network laws.

I think the image with this new fourth world has strong merit. It certainly is interesting to think about.

This is the week the internet took over

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Posted on 23rd June 2009 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge and Findability

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The new go-to public information medium is now the internet. That has happened because the truth about what was happening in Iran has been coming primarily through the internet.

For me, noticing the change was very direct. It was not the first such change I have experienced. In the 1940s and 1950s we waited for LIFE magazine to arrive to see pictures of the important events of the week before. Although we had two good newspapers in El Paso, Texas where I was then growing up, the news was largely local and the images were few and pretty grainy. LIFE’s broad, rich pages were the main medium for us to see our larger world. In the 1960s and 1970s, television brought us Walter Cronkite and the anchors who followed him to show and describe to us what was happening in the world. The role of TV as the go-to place for me when something was happening did not change again until this week.

The turning point for me was when I came across a tweet on #Iranelection that mentioned a woman having been shot in Tehran. I clicked through to YouTube and landed on the video of Neda’s death. I saw it — and watched it in horror — hours before it began to be mentioned in cable or television news, much less printed in a newspaper.

There are those who think our children should have what they learn pre-packaged in textbooks. I certainly appreciate having been able to learn from textbooks back in my schooldays — when books and magazines like LIFE were the only sources we had. That is no longer true. Children live in a world where the internet now dominates the dissemination of knowledge.

Eric Schmidt: “Information is a tremendous equalizer”

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Posted on 6th June 2009 by Judy Breck in Findability, Networks and Schools We Have Now

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One of the giants of the network industry predicts the internet will deliver all information to all people. Speaking to Carnegie Mellon University graduates, Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said:

Why is ubiquitous information so important? Why is it so important that we have access to all this?

It’s a tremendous equalizer. In our lifetime literally — certainly in yours if not mine — essentially every human being on the planet will have access to every piece of information on the planet. This is a remarkable achievement. God knows what these people will do, and it’s going to be pretty amazing.

The CEO of Google is not talking about building universities on a physical campuses the way Andrew Carnegie and the Mellon family did in Pittsburgh in the boom times of the industrial age. He is telling us access to all information to all people will be through the internet.

The 2009 CMU graduates to whom Schmidt spoke are information-elites, having attended one of the world’s great universities where information is open and plentiful. Graduates in 2009 from most other universities and colleges have had less access to information through their school. The slide away from information equality is steep and fast from there to those who do not graduate or even attend traditional schools. There is no chance that we can provide ubiquitous information and the equality it delivers by building more schools across the planet.

The inequity of information delivery will be overcome! Ubiquitous information and the equality it will bring will be sped up by optimizing open access online during the five or so years ahead it will take for mobile internet access to spread to essentially everyone on earth.

Via: Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine

Doing learning on the bus

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Posted on 29th December 2008 by Judy Breck in Mobile Learning and Networks

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The Wall Street Journal lead tech story today is headlined: Internet Access Turns School Buses Into Rolling Classrooms. The note on the picture tells us: “A program providing wireless Internet access on buses enables high-school senior Ethan Clement to do classwork online during long rides to and from school in rural Arkansas, and offers her advanced classes and far-flung mentors.”

The tipping point toward mobile learning is coming closer, but inertia lingers. It is interesting that the following section from the WSJ story excuses dropouts so easily — letting the fault be a bumpy bus.

In any event, for Ms. Clement, connecting is smoothing a road into science:

The project, known as the Aspirnaut Initiative, gives some high-performing students laptops or video iPods and sets them up with online courses and educational videos during their long bus rides to and from school — a round trip that often starts before dawn and ends after dark.

A number of participants have dropped out, unable to focus on studying as the bus bumps along gravel roads. But for students such as Ethan, the Aspirnaut Initiative has opened new worlds. The two college professors who run the program have become her mentors. For the first time, she said, she feels confident that she can aspire to a career in science. “It’s not just for big-city people with good connections,” she said.


Sony PSP delivered 25 million page views last month

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Posted on 19th December 2008 by Judy Breck in Mobile Learning

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In this interesting MobHappy post, Russell Buckley gives this breakdown of mobile surfing devices:

In the US, 8% of all such pages are served over wifi, which is a pretty impressive figure and has increased by 5% since August – so we’re seeing fast growth of the trend. But for iPhone, this figure rises to an amazing 42%.

In the UK, the stat is also 8% for total usage and a staggering 56% from the iPhone.

In both markets, the iPod Touch is the second biggest device for consumption of mobile web pages, beating the Nokia N95 into third place in the UK and the Sony PlayStation Portable in the US. Yes, that means that 25 million page views were viewed last month on a PSP.

The last sentence in the quote reminds us that there are more devices than mobile phones out there being used by individuals to access the internet. It is a fair guess that most of those using PSP are student aged. These devices could be used for learning from internet knowledge pages.

I used to rant in this blog, saying that kids already had mobile devices in their pockets, and that we needed to make those devices into good ones for accessing the internet. As the statistics above make plain, the whole internet is now right in their hands.

The quark, the jaguar, and the internet

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Posted on 18th December 2008 by Judy Breck in Connective Expression

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Yesterday I began reading Murray Gell-Mann’s classic book The Quark and the Jaguar. I am thrilled that I am at last understanding (having failed before). My new prowess comes from watching Professor Steven Pollock’s DVDs on Particle Physics. I am reading the book because I think Gell-Mann’s subject for the book is a powerful metaphor (or an actually explanation) for the internet.

Gell-Mann tells us that the book is about “the study of the simple and the complex.” This is a quotation from the first page of the Preface of The Quark and the Jaguar:

[The study of the simple and the complex] . . . has started to bring together in a new way material from a great number of different fields in the physical, biological, and behavioral sciences and even in the arts and humanities. It carries with it a point of view that facilitates the making of connections, sometimes between facts or ideas that seem at first glance very remote from each other.

Surely, the social networking of the internet is a huge new cultural and sociological force that is changing the ways of human life. I would bet a lot that our changing relationship with what humankind knows will have a more profound — and certainly a beneficial — impact on the human future. Let me just change a few words in the Gell-Mann quote to tell you why:

The open internet has started to bring together in a new way information and ideas from a great number of different fields in the physical, biological, and behavioral sciences and even in the arts and humanities. It carries with it operations that facilitate the making of connections, sometimes between facts or ideas that seem at first glance very remote from each other.

When today’s babies are ten the internet will be in virtually everyone’s pocket.

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Posted on 16th December 2008 by Judy Breck in Mobile Learning

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The Wired Campus reports that “By 2020, Access to Internet Will Be in Everyone’s Pocket.” A child who is a baby today — in the USA, Europe, Africa, Asia, everywhere — is almost certain to have the Internet in his or her pocket at age ten (in 2020).

  • This is a HUGE change in how children will get information.
  • This is a FABULOUS opportunity to reconfigure education.
  • The central challenge and needed focus of education planning is on how to maximize learning for these kids.
  • We need to start now, with today’s kids.

The Wired Campus report tells us:

The verdict on the future of the Internet is in (once again), and experts overwhelmingly agree that by 2020 much of the world’s population will connect to the Web using mobile devices, according to a new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

The report,“The Future of the Internet III,” included predictions from some 600 experts, including scholars and Internet stakeholders, about what path the Internet will take.

Of the respondents, 77 percent agreed that mobile devices, which will have greater computing power and will be more affordable, will be the primary tool used to connect to the Internet.

Visionary minimalism – how education has viewed the Internet

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Posted on 29th August 2008 by Judy Breck in Golden Age of Learning and Schools We Have Now

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In discussing the liberal methodology of Barack Obama, Cass Sunstein writes in The New Republic:

When he offers visionary approaches, he does so as a visionary minimalist–that is, as someone who attempts to accommodate, rather than to repudiate, the defining beliefs of most Americans. His reluctance to challenge people’s deepest commitments might turn out to be what makes ambitious plans possible–notwithstanding the hopes of the far left and the cartoons of the far right.

It is revealing to shift the lens of visionary minimalism to education. Since the Internet appeared on education’s radar a decade ago, accommodating the new medium of knowledge and communication to traditional education instead of challenging defining beliefs of educators has been routine.

Removing the minimalism from the vision for education would mean repudiating the laundry list of “fixing the schools” accommodations. The education sector could then define and pursue a new vision of adapting learning to the now dominate knowledge delivery medium, the Internet.

Real education will not be academic

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Posted on 23rd August 2008 by Judy Breck in Carnival of the Mobilists, Connective Expression, Networks and Schools We Have Now

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Reading through the conclusion of Charles Murray’s Real Education sharpens my non-academic vision of the future of learning. (The word academy means school. Academic ability is the ability to learn school subjects.) Murray’s conclusions are about an elite with academic ability, K-12 schools that teach a core liberal education, and less young people attending college. Murray explains this far better than I can. If the Internet had not developed, I would agree wholeheartedly with him. But the Internet is here and conforming learning to this marvelous new ecology of enlightenment is the job at hand for educators.

On pages 90-91, Murray writes: “. . . the Internet is revolutionizing everything.” And: “. . . the technology is still in its early stages of development and the rate of improvement breathtaking. . . .”

Yes, and the notion of academic ability is not exempt from that revolution. Murray’s underlying premise in Real Education is that because students differ in academic ability, their schooling should differ. But schooling itself (academics as we have known them) are obsolete vehicles for packaging and delivering learning resources: that by which we have measured intelligence has broken down. The reason for the break down is that fundamentals of how academies deliver learning are incompatible with networks (the open Internet). The hierarchies of courses, curricula, and school grades cannot be shoehorned into networks. The old school methods unbundle.

Here is an example of unbundling: From page 81 of Real Education — an excerpt from a curriculum for third graders includes for science this goal: “Use a prism to learn about the spectrum.” From the hierarchical core of subjects used in the example, third grade students will be taught to a test about prisms at a level thought to be appropriate for nine-year-olds. The prism at third grade level is embedded in a science curriculum.

This example of academic science as third grade subject organization unbundles when a student of any age begins clicking through webpages about prisms like these: Prism refraction applet, Discover of the nature of light, Reflection grating systems, and Color theory. Including, but hardly limited to, what a third grader can learn, these webpages and their links are a network of ideas in which a learner can travel to whatever level an individual student’s and moment’s curiosity beckon.

The academy (schools as we have known them for delivering knowledge) will be obsolete — to put it in 2008 device terms — as soon as iPhone-grade mobile devices deliver the Internet to most of the world’s children. That will happen within a few years. It could happen very fast if we set it as a high priority.

There may well be a general sort of intelligence that determines how much knowledge about prisms different individual children can ultimately acquire. Patterns of learning seem certain to change when not every kid is not expected to grasp the prism/spectum concepts at age nine. The conceptualizing of intelligence by measuring success at pre-Internet academies (schools) needs to be abandoned. Just as the Internet is impelling the re-conceptualization of literacy, intelligence needs to be measured by network ability, not academics. My guess is that network learning creates not one brainy elite — as an academy does — but elites composed of varying patterns of individuals whose talents emerge at different stages of maturation into different masteries of different subjects.

Education and the internet: the twain connect not

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Posted on 1st August 2008 by Judy Breck in Mobile Learning and Schools We Have Now

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Typically:
A pathfinding new book The Hyperlinked Society does not included education as a topic.
A PajamasMedia blog post this morning titled “A ‘To-Do’ List for the Next Education President” does not mention the Internet.
These are astounding disconnects by adults as youngsters in middle school, and all children younger than that, have never known a world without the internet.

PREDICTION: Within the next 3 years at the most education will experience the same magnitude of change that it did when our great-grandparents realized schooling should be preparing the new generation for the industrial age. Now that mobile devices are beginning to deliver the internet well, and the kids have the mobiles in their pockets, the platform for that change is in place. When the twain of education and the internet connect at last, global enlightenment will soon follow.

iPhone review confirms the future of learning

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Posted on 28th June 2007 by Judy Breck in Mobile Learning

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In David Pogue’s New York Times (enthusiastic!) review here of Apple’s new iPhone, two powers of the phone are present and functional that come together to truly make 20th century content delivery obsolete. 1) The phone is robustly wireless. 2) The full Internet can be browsed both on the (too slow AT&T network) to which the iPhone is now limited and wirelessly (very fast) in hot spots. The full Internet aspect has a magnification feature: your screen displays the entire width of webpages, and when you want to look more closely at a portion of the page you magnify it by touching the screen with two fingers, spreading the portion you choose to make it bigger.

There are several other features that will help kids learn if they are lucky enough to own one of these machines that will define education in the future. Of course iPhones cost more than $500 now and schools have not figured out how to use mobile phones in classrooms. Neither of those situations is unsolvable. The tough problems have been whipped in creating the technology that can now elegantly deliver what is known by humankind into the hands of youngsters.

Learning should be in this mobile mix

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Posted on 12th February 2007 by Judy Breck in Mobile Learning

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The giant 3GSM World Congress is meeting this week in Barcelona, with 60,000+ in attendance to smooze and learn about mobile phones. The overview article in ZDNet here says that an important Congress topic is improved Internet browsing on mobile phones. The education sector should be in this mix to be sure our kids are able to access learning and knowledge through the computers in their pockets. ZDNet says:

Because the show is based in Europe and draws a significant number of attendees and exhibitors from Asia, where mobile technology is typically more advanced than in North America, it often provides a sneak peak at technology and trends that will soon make it to the U.S. market.

Analysts attending this year’s event say there will be several themes dominating the show floor and discussions throughout the congress. “I don’t think that there will be any single theme this year,” said Matt Hatton, a senior analyst for Yankee Group. “But there will be a lot of talk around taking the mobile Internet to the next level, making it a richer experience, and figuring out how to make money from it.”

Mobilizing Web 2.0
A watered-down version of the mobile Internet is no longer acceptable to subscribers, Hatton said. And as a result, operators are trying to figure out ways to make surfing the Net on a handset resemble surfing the Web on a PC as closely as possible. One operator focusing on this issue, U.K.-based Vodafone Group, announced last week as a preview to 3GSM that it has struck deals with social-networking site MySpace and video-sharing site YouTube to add those applications to its handsets.

The MOBILIST CHALLENGE

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Posted on 27th April 2006 by Judy Breck in Mobile & Ubiquitous

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Mobilist Challenge
This week the Development Gateway published my article called Great Gateways as a highlight of its Open Educational Resources homepage. The Development Gateways goal is Putting the Internet to Work for Developing Countries. My article describes some of the excellent open content for learning available online as free, superior quality virtual gateways to knowledge.

The picture of kids using desktop computers above this post was selected to be placed above my article on the Development Gateway page. It illustrates the use by students in developing countries of the Internet to access knowledge. The situation captured in the illustration is typical of the way those kids who do have Internet access in educational settings typically work online.

The illustration suggests two facts of life for student online study. First, the kids have to go to places where non-mobile desktop computers are located. Second, they routinely have to share those computers with other students. The fact is that students across the world share too little time using the Internet to be able to acquire much knowledge. In the less developed countries, they crowd around too few computers or have none. In contrast to the desktop machines, young people everywhere are acquiring their own mobile phones.

THE MOBILIST CHALLENGE. To the right of the illustration above that I copied from the Development Gateway I have added an obvious solution to the frustrations kids experience in trying to study online by sharing desktop computers. The kids have their own powerful computers in their pockets. Our challenge is to see to it that those mobile computers become gateways to the learning for the young generations across the planet.

Meeting this challenge is a matter of keeping the mobiles open for learning content, devising delivery formats and, I think, working toward a one Web future for open educational resources in which the mobile as well as the desktop computer is an unimpeded gateway for learners.

The MOBILIST CHALLENGE theme will be a major one from now on at GoldenSwamp.com. Our mobile sector has a chance to dramatically diminish ignorance by making mobile phones gateways to learning.

Lets do it!

Cyberly Incorrect

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Posted on 25th February 2006 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

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The top Good Read on George Lucas’ current Edutopia is the featured article here in the Lynchburg, Virginia newsadvance.com about the State of Virginia passing a law mandating every school in the state to teach Internet safety to its students. Over the years since the early 1990s in which the Internet has grown, there is no story (my educated guess) that has received more cyber ink and the kind of ink that goes on newsprint and glossy magazines than protecting kids from the Internet.

I almost didn’t write this post because it is cyberly incorrect to do anything but fan the fears that children are threatened by the Internet. Whether a child is hurt by a predator on the street or online is irrelevant it’s awful either way. But how much is the education of those same children being damaged by the hype-publicity that undermines the confidence of teachers and blocks the exploration of online knowledge by students? My Mother used to say that there is no one who does more harm than people who mean well.

Of course we should warn kids about predators, online and offline. But we should be in awe of what the Internet can do for learning and engage it fully not shy away from it.