Home' Teacher : October 2010 Contents PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 13
the growing role of Google and other search
engine companies in providing information
and advocating for freedom of information.
Both examples raise critical questions:
who has the right to determine access to
information and what sort of information
is acceptable? Surely, education is a key ele-
ment in providing answers to such questions.
Participation is another. Recently, Face-
book was forced to simplify its privacy set-
tings in response to a huge backlash from its
users. Some 23,000 users quit the site as a
result of the 'Quit Facebook Day' campaign
organised by disgruntled users demonstrat-
ing their opposition to the site. This is the
participatory nature of the web.
Companies and organisations are pro-
vided with instant feedback from consumers
about their decision-making and direction.
The new gatekeepers of corporate conscience
use social networking tools to influence
decision-making. More for ward-thinking
companies actually seek engagement by
using social networking tools to allow con-
sumer feedback on products and services.
We've just seen our politicians attempt-
ing to engage with the electorate on Face -
book, Twitter and YouTube, not only to
convey their ow n political messages but
to monitor feedback on their policies and
We must remind ourselves that this is
not a debate on the merits or evils of, say,
Facebook in particular or technology in
general; it's about information and how it's
used, and that's not really a new debate.
We have to locate the challenges of emerg-
ing communication technologies within the
context of the rapidly changing world in
which we live. Tomorrow, new and different
technologies will emerge holding both great
promise and even greater challenges for
society. Actually, the chances are they won't
emerge tomorrow, they actually emerged
yesterday, when you weren't looking.
The answer is not to restrict access to
the information 'out there' in the virtual
world. Our young people are technologi-
cally sav vy enough to be able to bypass
internet filters or access u nfiltered content
For educators and schools, the respon-
sibility is to develop a deep understanding
of the capability of the tools and to create
a transparent and open environment to
appropriately monitor and supervise use.
Mostly importantly, the responsibility is
to educate our children continually about
what is an acceptable use of these technolo -
gies. We want generations of learners to be
discerning users -- not abusers -- of tech-
Certainly, there's much on the web that is
inane, ignorant and even terrifying, but it's
ludicrous to want to restrict access to the
world wide web. It's even more ludicrous to
think that we can. T
Greg Whitby is Executive Director of
Schools at Catholic Education Parram-
atta. He blogs at WordPress, tweets on
Twitter and posts video on YouTube. He
also watches broadcast tele vision and
DVDs, reads books, newspape rs and
m agazines, and -- gasp -- uses w riting tech-
nologies like pens and e ven pencils.
Links Archive September 2010 November 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page