Snippets

The following are a few snippets from posts around the blogosphere that I’ve noted in the past few weeks. Each one deserves a thoughtful blog post, but for now I’ll scatter them here for your interest.
The wonderfully reflective Barbara Ganley discussing visual literacy:

As students become more comfortable thinking visually, and thinking critically about the visual, they begin to see how stepping away from language for a moment to think about their ideas in image can help the preciseness of their diction, the development of their points, and the depth of their ideas.

A particularly effective and rewarding exercise easily adaptable to any grade level is to have students post stories-without-words on their blogs. We are, after all, naturally drawn to stories from the moment we understand language. Creating compelling narratives with clear beginnings, middles and endings solely with images teaches visual literacy skills while revealing the arc of a narrative, transitions, the structure of an argument, and the importance of the carefully chosen word.

And expanding the visual to virtual worlds, Angela Thomas has reports, images and podcasts from the NMC’s 12 day symposium on the Impact of Digital Media – held in the VR environment at Second Life. (Which I’d love to explore further, but my current computer doesn’t have an adequate graphics cards apparently.)

On the authority of sources

David Warlick commenting on David Weinberger’s keynote at the SETT conference in Glasgow:

His address was pretty much the same ideas that he shared at NECC a couple of years ago, but about 2/3 into the presentation he pulled up Wikipedia. Again nothing new. He flashed through a number of the warnings that appear on many Wikipedia articles: the neutrality of this article is disputed, factual accuracy is disputed, this article contradicts another article, etc.

Then Weinberger asked…

Why is it that you will never ever see these warnings in authoritative sources. You will never see it in Britannica. You will never see it in the New York Times. And you have to wonder why. Is it because they’re never wrong? No!

He described the New York times reporting prior the the U.S. invasion of Iraq, that they were reporting information that was wrong — without warning.

Weinberger then asks,

Why can’t they acknowledge their weaknesses…the only and reluctant answer I can come to is that they are more interested in protecting their own authority than helping us to the truth.

I sat back in my chair, thunder-struck, “Wow!”

Wow, indeed. When you consider that the discussion pages behind each entry on Wikipedia usually outline many of the issues and diverse perspectives on entry topics, in addition to the clear statements when articles are in dispute, it’s really quite a good resource.

Email is for us old folk…

Is e-mail only for the old? That’s the contention of a string of articles published in the last four months, the most recent appearing today in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle says that in a study last year, “teenagers preferred new technology, like instant messaging or text messaging, for talking to friends and use e-mail to communicate with ‘old people.'” The Mercury News says, “For those of you who have just figured out how to zap spam or manage your inbox, prepare for the bad news: E-mail is, like, so yesterday.” And then there’s USA Today, which makes the claim that “E-mail is so last millennium.”

ETC@BMC commented further on this:

Our colleges have come to view email as our primary way of communicating with students but it’s not 100% effective. Another symposium attendee shared that after they released a new webmail service they discovered that within a day over 100 students had set filters to send all email from the help desk to the trash automatically. And we all struggle with getting our students to set up the forward to the email address they really check.

It seems to me the lesson in all of this is not whether or when email is going to become obsolete. The first lesson is the different attitude that young adults have to email and other communication methods. They don’t want to hear from you unless you are relevant to them. They view email as a way of receiving unwanted communications and are less patient in sorting through it than those of us who view it as a huge improvement over waiting a week for a letter or calling back endlessly because there weren’t answering machines.

(Oh, dear, I remember those days… before answering machines, before email, even before faxes…)

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