Monday, November 12, 2012

project touch technologies @ Beverley School

congratulations to Alana Grossman (Principal of Beverley School), Stacie Carroll and Sabrina Morey who today received the Prime Minister's award for excellence in teaching based on their work in the Touch Technologies in the Classroom project. here they are receiving the certificates from Olivia Chow, MP for Ward 10 in Toronto.

on oct 22nd, 2012 i guest blogged about my involvement as researcher in the project on the school's blog called iPad Education and i highly recommend that you check out their blog for more information and insight on the work that is being done at this school.

60 Minutes (USA) and 60 Minutes Australia both ran feature documentaries on the project and the condensed versions of the broadcasts can be found here

60 Minutes US: Video 1 and Video 2

60 Minutes Aussie Video

finally, the Toronto Star featured a story today (Nov 11, 2011)on the project as part of their series on Autism and you may read that here

it has been a highlight of my academic career so far to have designed this project and worked with such amazing children and teachers.
best as always, R.

Friday, October 19, 2012

spaces are spaces wherever we are

my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Amanda and all others whose lives are affected by bullying

the tragic end for Amanda Todd has reignited a look at the roles that online media – and social media in particular – play in personal interactions. while the social web has offered the users of all ages opportunities for finding communities of like-minded people, offering and receiving social support, and exploring identity we also know that there can be negative outcomes. the online world is another space (or set of spaces) and like any other type of space it can be used in a wide variety of ways. youth social interactions are not much different online as they are in the physical world. there is entertainment, play, thoughtfulness, and genuine friendship, but there is also subversion, anger, insecurity, and spitefulness. the dominant social narrative is that the latter types of behaviours are more prevalent, yet the evidence from research demonstrates consistently that these darker experiences are not the general case. sadly, it appears that when things go wrong they can go very wrong.

the reality is that there is a decline in the types of spaces that young people have available to them to try things out. malls, parks, street corners, etc. have become regulated spaces where they are scrutinized and asked to disband. increasingly urban cities are ‘youth unfriendly’ and even at the college and university levels our youth are shuttled from place to place, or tethered by their mobile phones. the online space becomes a place of…freedom, and while it is true that with freedom comes responsibility this is something that must be learned, not just in the classroom, or in the home via lectures but by living it - making mistakes and making corrections.

history is likely to look back at our millennial generation (currently 18-33 years old) as the group that had to learn how to navigate the digital world with little guidance. while parents remain the gatekeepers in the home, Pew Internet and American Life data from 2011 found that 41% of parents had no conversations or controls in place for online use in the home – and this is self-reported data so it is likely that this number is higher (see Pew Internet). we do not have research data in Canada to compare this to but we can guess that it is similar from anecdotal information and smaller case studies. as we as a broader society struggle to figure out the social norms and rules for social interaction via new media, experts in child and youth developments suggest that there are early steps that we can take in the home.

From these experts come the following suggestions:
1. try to find your what information about your children is online (search for their names/nicknames on a browser).
2. go on online trips with your millennial (or younger) children on topics of common interest. working together you can model appropriate online information practices.
3. talk to your teens about things that are bothering them – on and offline. Encourage them to talk to their peers and to speak out if there is something that they have seen or experienced that makes them uncomfortable.
4. seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed or don’t know how to start the conversation about safety online. talk to the councilors in your local school or to your family doctor for resources in your area.

l8r 4 now, R.

See the following helpful links for more information

image source:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

mobile manners!

frustrated by the person in the LIBRARY talking at full-tilt on their mobile phone? what about at family gatherings where you are trying to enjoy (yes i said enjoy) the company of your distant loved ones...except for you-know-who who is unable to tear himself and his thumbs away from his texting? and, ehem, are you sometimes that guy?

today i joined matt galloway on toronto's metro morning show and wei chen of ontario morning discuss just that.

i highlighted research done here in toronto that shows an embeddedness of mobile technologies in the way that we communicate. it is not that these devices are causing us to walk into street poles while texting, but it is an increasing desire to be constantly connected that these devices are satisfying.

so what about manners and etiquette regarding mobile phones? rich ling and i wrote a paper about it that you can find on my website under publications. in it we discuss that what we do versus what we ought to to in a given social situation is considered relative to social norms. in the decision moment we rapidly compare our behavior to what others are doing in similar situations. the problem with mobile phone use is that the social norms are still emerging and often what we ought to do in a given moment depends on our interpretation of who is around and the value that we place on answering versus not answering.
in fact, it is a matter of prioritization - does the co-present person take precedent or does the person on the other end of that connection? what if the value is the same?

in addition, we have expectations around response that muddy the waters. if your normal response time to your loved one is under 1 minute on a text message, if you take 10 minutes to respond this time will they worry? and the same thing goes for the workplace - in many places there an expectation to respond right away to a request for information, so what does it mean for you if you choose to wait?

if you are intrigued by these questions, read the paper (Ling & McEwen, 2010).