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Al Jazeera Creative Commons Repository - teach modern history powerfully

FAIL (the browser should render some flash content, not this).

Al Jazeera puts a great deal of their video media into the Creative Commons meaning that your students can use it for projects as long as they cite their source (which of course, they would do!).

Use this with students, let them develop their own news summaries of what's happening in Tunisia and Egypt. Reporting history as it happens, it's like a history teacher's dream come true!

School TV Made Easy - a useful school news production resources

I came across SchoolTVmadeEasy.com when looking for resources for my school's budding TV news production team. It's very useful if you use Adobe Visual Communicator as your software platform, and fairly useful even if you use a different solution.

Posted via email from arvind's posterous

Blaming websites like Formspring for a young girl's suicide totally misses the mark

My head of school passed Rachel Simmons' blog post, What Every Parent Should Know About Formspring: The New Cyberscourge for Teens, to me. I read it, found it troubling, and had to write a response.

I had a great conversation with our 7th and 8th graders about formspring a few weeks ago, which I blogged about here. I thought that the article by Rachel Simmons was pretty poor. She starts with, “Last week, a Long Island high school senior committed suicide, and the website Formspring.me is suspected as a cause.” She links to an article which says just the opposite! See these quotes from the article she linked to:

“Alexis' parents downplayed the Internet role, saying their daughter was in counseling before she ever signed up with formspring.me, a new social site, where many of the attacks appeared.”

"I believe in my heart that cyberbullying wasn't the cause of Lexi's death," said her mother, Paula Pilkington. "This is a mistake."

It also didn’t recognize what the site is capable of in a positive way. For instance, I purchased a new dining table that is unfinished wood, and wasn’t sure how best to treat it. So, I went to this wonderful design bloggers website and asked her a question about wood treatment via her formspring. She replied to me within an hour. Problem solved. By an expert. There is a place for every technology tool, and there’s a poor way to use all of them, too. That’s what parents and students have to negotiate.

The bigger issue here is talking to students about “anonymous” behavior on the Internet, and what it entails. I gave the girls a guiding principle that anonymous places on the Internet tend to encourage bad behavior and discourage good behavior. We want them to learn that lesson because formspring will be passé tomorrow (it actually sort of already is), and they have to be able to apply the same principles to the next new thing.

Rachel Simmon's gut instinct reaction and advice to parents is summed up in her point:

So what to do? Here’s what I suggest. Start a conversation with your daughter about Formspring. Ask her if people at school use it (don’t start off by grilling her about what she does or she may scare and fly away). Ask her what she thinks of it. Then ask her if she uses it.

If she says yes, tell her she’s banned for life from the website. Period.

This completely misses the mark. If you think you can solve problems by banning use, you're in for real trouble when kids experience the same problems in new venues - they won't tell you when they stumble into a mess for fear that you'll ban them from it. Prepare them for the world they are living in. Teach them about how it works. Set family expectations and guidelines. Connecting the tragedy of a girl with serious psychological issues to a website is hyperbole, and won't get you very far in setting your kids up for success.

Ms. Simmons, if you're reading, I'd love to talk to you more about this.

Posted via web from arvind's posterous

Big banks draw profits from microloans to poor

Jane Hahn for The New York Times

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I am not a fan of microfinance; let me be clear about that. Kiva and organizations like that are what I'm talking about. This NY Times article talking about how banks and organizations like Kiva are charging huge interest rates to lendees in the developing word. I have much to say on this topic will let the article do the talking for now.

My thinking was first greatly influenced by Alexander Cockburn who wrote The Myth of Microloans. It's a short read and worth it if you're considering send your or your school's money towards a microfinance organization in helps of aiding third world workers.

Posted via web from arvind's posterous