Monthly Archives: November 2008

Trust Tommy

This young lad seems to be getting a lot of attention today. Even though I’ve never met him he seems to embody a lot of what I say on this blog about tech savvy teens.

Ok, I’m biased with the Limerick connection, and I wonder about 14 year olds reading Stephen Hawking.

On the other hand, he’s got his own, blog, own domain name, records/mixes and uploads vids of himself and his drum-playing on youtube, knows how to migrate through email accounts, knows what CSS is, buys himself an iphone (mega sympathies on the theft, hope whoever nicked it feels guilty everytime s/he uses it).

And he’s got a whole lot of other extra-curricular stuff going on to – traveling to particpate in debates, the Young Scientist exhibition, appearing on the late late as a guest, writes James Bond short stories, appreciates the brilliance of Amadeus (“an awesome movie”, I couldn’t agree more),

In his own words – “Normal service and all that…”.

I’m in awe. Fair play to ya, man 🙂


Get with the program

Haven’t the foggiest how I stumbled across this but it’s interesting and builds on the recent posts in here.

(the creator, Aurcaen, doesn’t seem to like embeds)

I love the maze example. The typical, expected, tried and tested method of getting through a maze are ditched and instead the as-the-bird-flies method is chosen and why not? After all, where is the rule that says this isn’t allowed? And you get to knock down a few walls on the way!

Do students believe everything they see / read?   I’m not convinced it’s as black-and-white as this.  I think many do form their own opinions but they might struggle to discuss and critiques them in the depth to which their instructors would like them to.

Where did the syntax for text messaging come from? Who originated it?  Something I hadn’t thought about but you must admit it’s a creative solution to the challenge of getting a message across using as few characters as possible and so save some cents.

All in all, the vid points out the fact that students are forging ahead in preparing themselves for their future. We, in education, have a role to play. By not embracing modern technology, innovative communication methods, allowing students to practice the softer skills of negotiation, interactivity, managing company culture, etc, we might be depriving them of something valuable in that future.

Yesterday’s social networking report – part 2

Seems like that survey published yesterday about our younger folk benefitting enormously from hanging out in cyberspace has got people talking. How about this list from Google?

The titles are particularly interesting. Here’re a few I like –

What are they all saying? In essence, the problem isn’t with the kids and their online explorations and discoveries, its with the parents.

It’s time to lay off the scaremongering and negativity. The online world is not full of predators and fraud scams. There is a lot of good in it and perhaps parents should join instead of criticising from the sidelines. Kids are more savvy than today’s over-protective parents give them credit for.

What does it mean for us educators? Freedom to do what we’ve suspected for a while now might actually work – go to where the kids are and work with them in their own space where they’re comfortable.

The report suggests that kids prefer to learn from their peers than from adults and parents. To me, it’s not the content of the learning that’s important here per se, it’s the mechanisms of learning we should focus on. What are peers doing to inspire each other to experiment with online tools and activities, how is the momentum created and sustained, what blocks are educators (inadvertently) putting in front of students that are not present in their online activities.

I’m not saying that education should move wholesale to the net. That would lose many of the benefits that face-to-face learning gives us. I am saying that the internet is a platform that many young students are comfortable in, so why not embrace it for teaching and learning purposes.

Messing about on social networks – the new learning

Another really interesting report released today

What’s it telling us – something educators know already at some level, but it doesn’t come to the fore until research like this points it out.

Some examples –

New media allow for a degree of freedom and autonomy for youth that is less apparent in a classroom setting”.

What freedom do students have in the classroom? The teacher is in charge, so the students are secondary. How many teachers would step back and allow the students freedom to be autonomous? At the very least they would be accused of not doing their jobs properly even if they are promoters of independent active learning.

“Their efforts are also largely self-directed, and the outcome emerges through exploration, in contrast to classroom learning that is oriented toward set, predefined goals”.

Exploratory learning towards goals that the students set themselves as opposed to pre-set goals set by a mysterious other with little or no input by the students. I wonder which students might prefer?

“Contrary to adult perceptions, while hanging out online, youth are picking up basic social and technological skills they need to fully participate in contemporary society”

What should education be about – preparation for the real life outside it, to be able to thrive in a chaotic modern world. Seems like our young folk are taking matters into their own hands, preparing for their own future and having some fun along the way. You cant argue with that.

“Erecting barriers to participation deprives teens of access to these forms of learning”.

What do many schools and colleges do? Deliberately block access to Bebo and Myspace and Youtube and Facebook, etc.

Who teaches the students about this technology? The answer: ‘trial and error, I guess. Whenever I learn anything with computers, I’ve taught myself’ “.

No-one is forcing anyone to learn and use these tools. No-one is telling students you must do this. It’s all voluntary. Why are students willing to spend the time to learn these tools in their sparse spare time? If students are willing to sit down and voluntarily learn something why on earth would we stop them?

“Youth look to each other’s profiles, photos, videos, and online writing for examples to emulate and avoid in a peer-driven learning context that supports everyday media creation”.

Peer learning without the typical peer pressure.

“Online groups provide an opportunity for youth to exercise adult-like agency and leadership that is not otherwise available to them”.

Students in charge of their own lives, practicing independence and leadership …. Self empowerment at its best – to be applauded and encouraged.

to shop or not to shop

IS it scaremongering or should we sit up and listen?

Deloitte loked at over 100 Irish websites and has found many of them to be lacking in adeuate security, leading to possibilities of fraud and identity theft.

Surveys lke these (another account here) emerge every now and again, and make headlines and freak out Joe and Josephine Soaps across the land. But what does it all mean?

  • 100 websites is not a lot. How many Irish-based websites are there out there selling products and services. How representative are the choosen 100+ of the entirety?
  • Just over half of these 100 had poor encryption for customer payment details. Would the average person recognise poor encryption and decide to take their custom elsewhere? Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t.
  • 90,000 people in Ireland have fallen victim to identity fraud. Yes, its a high figure, no argument there. How many were repeat cases? How exactly did they happen – customer carelessness or clever stunts by fraudsters?

The lesson – you walk into a shop and it doesnt feel right, would you use your credit card there? Probably not. The same should apply online. As etailers build up a reputation for themselves they attract more and more customers who feel they can be trusted. If you’ve never heard of the organisation, would you want to be their first customer? This is particularly so if their “terms & conditions” are hidden away in some obscure corner of the site and they dont have any obvious security measures in place.

It’s all common sense really, isn’t it?

Or is it a case of common sense not being very common?


Organisational culture is a slippery thing. It consists of unwritten rules and norms that employees have to absorb sub-consciously by osmosis. So how then do you teach it to students? You point them in the direction of Dilbert.


I’ve been a Dilbert fan for many years. Scott Adams seems to have the knack of putting his finger on exactly those little nuggets of wisdom, often politically / socially (and a whole host of otherwise) incorrect, that are not to be found in any textbook.


Take this one on Project Mgt. How many real-world projects does it represent? Is there a better way to get across the fact that project management is all about people management. It gets the point across very fast in a way that both informs and brings a smile.


Dilbert is required reading.

online or offline, you decide

A feature I like in Facebook is the Minekey opinion gadget. Basically, someone poses a statement and asks if you agree or disagree. The % of agree / disagree to date are posted along with comments of the voters if they choose to comment and so add some meat to their dis/agreement. The latest one to pop in my email asks “No amount of social networking can ever substitute its real life counterpart”. Think about that one for a moment – is the person suggesting that Facebook (and equivalents) are inferior to offline social networking. If so, in what ways and to what extent?

Turns out that of the 7000+ facebookers who partook, a whopping 94% agreed!! And these are from people who facebook regularly (otherwise, they wouldn’t have bothered Minekeying). Some of the comments: “face 2 face is the best, but distance is the creator of the need!!!”, “You can pretend who you are and how you feel but you never know if your offending anyone or if anyone is lying unless you are face to face with them. Social networking is impersonal and awkward at times”, “its just a lazy way of communicating, unless you are speaking to people who are miles apart from you”, “but isnt social networking part of real life, so depends on person how do u take it, see it, manage it and share it to become part of life”, “But we can make our real life much easier through social networking”.

So, what does all that mean? The online method has inferiorities – devoid of the cues we take for granted in the offline world how can you be sure of how you are coming across, or if other people really are what they appear to be. But it has its plus sides – the distance of physical geography is not a problem. Others don’t see this online / offline divide as clear-cut. The virtual world is real and the people they met there are real people. Personally, this last one is the view that has proved positive for me. Many of my Facebook (and other SN) friends are real people I would never have met if the online world didn’t exist. Yes, I’ve also met some people I’d rather not have met but online they can be blocked, and it’s much easier to deploy avoidance strategies online than it is offline. Three cheers for online social networking and the people that make it what it is.

What age are you, no really, what is your “age”?

A good friend turned 40 recently and decided to be philosophical about it and adopt the “life begins at 40…” idea. Is she right? Or does it all matter in the slightest, and you’re only as old as you feel? Are you a digital native and clicking buttons before you could hold a pen? Or are you a digital migrant that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age? Or does it matter a jot?

Here’s something I found on Brazen Careerist. Being who I am I figured I’d give it a shot.


Do you have your own web page? (1 point) Assuming this blog counts that’s 1 point.

Have you made a web page for someone else? (2 points) Actually I have, 3 points.

Do you IM your friends? (1 point) Indeed I do, 4 points

Do you text your friends? (2 points) Uh oh, what’s the difference between texting and IM? I’ll give myself another point, 5 points.

Do you watch videos on YouTube? (1 point) A wonderful means of distraction, education and amusement, 6 points

Do you remix video files from the Internet? (2 points) Nope, this one I don’t do (yet), 6 points

Have you paid for and downloaded music from the Internet? (1 point) Yup, 7 points

Do you know where to download free (illegal) music from the Internet? (2 points) if it wasn’t for my internet-sussed students I’d probably be answering no to this one, 9 points

Do you blog for professional reasons? (1 point) er, um, 9.5 points

Do you blog as a way to keep an online diary? (2 points)  11.5 points

Have you visited MySpace at least five times? (1 point) yes, 12.5 points

Do you communicate with friends on Facebook? (2 points) keeps me sane, 14.5 points

Do you use email to communicate with your parents? (1 point) nope, my folks took 10 years to master the vcr, emailing is just too much when there’s a telephone handy.14.5 points

Did you text to communicate with your parents? (2 points) see last comment, 14.5 points

Do you take photos with your phone? (1 point) I stopped about 2 years ago when the phone software corrupted and swallowed all the pics I had on it, 14.5 points

Do you share your photos from your phone with your friends? (2 points) see last comment, 14.5 points

0-1 point – Baby Boomer

2-6 points – Generation Jones

6- 12 points – Generation X

12 or over – Generation Y

So, I’m a Generation Y.  Excuse while I go Google that to see what exactly it is I am……

Obama winning the net race

So it’s official Barrack Obama is the new US president elect. I’ve got mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand you can’t help thinking that he is exactly the type of person the US needs right now (am aware that I’m saying this as a non-US citizen who doesn’t even live there). On the other hand, Ireland is way down his list of priorities. He wish of US foreign multinationals coming back to the US to bump up the economy there is not good news for Ireland at all.

His usage of the internet in his campaign is something worth blogging about. Ok, he’s not Al Gore but still I’m more than impressed. He used it to make it easy for people to have access to him, his ideals and policies and above all, to contribute, in both words and money.  Obama “gets” the technology and knows how to exploit it, he recognised the ‘long tail’ – a huge amount of his donations were for tiny amounts that individually wouldn’t have come to much. Using the net made it easy for Joe Soap to contribute $60 meant that a lot of Joe Soaps were contributing small amount that collectively added up to a very heft treasure chest indeed.  

1,800 is the answer to what question?
Answer: the number of YouTube vids uploaded to Obama’s youtube channel. He even made tweeting look easy, and apparently there were ring tones, profiles on facebook, myspace, flickr, linkedin, and a whole host of less well known web 2.0 tools.  In essence, he actively involved the people in his campaign. He didn’t just constantly speech at them, but gave them an active role. Internet-driven crowd-sourcing a its finest.

An uh-oh is his VP – apparently old school, cracking down on P2P music sharing and has a strong anti-privacy ideal.  

Obama has expressed interest in creating a CTO (that’s Chief Technology Office to you and me) government office.  It will be interesting to see what this office gets up to. It will be interesting to see what Obama will be like as US president.