Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Can a 'Like' Button for Doing Good Create a More Caring Internet?

Can a 'Like' Button for Doing Good Create a More Caring Internet? | Motherboard:

“We come from politics, where there’s a rising tide of disengagement because people feel their individual voice can’t make a difference,” says Ratner. “We wanted to build a system where an individual contribution can make a difference.”

'via Blog this'

  1. What are your overall thoughts on this project?
  2. Do you think this will help individuals make more of a difference online?  Why or why not?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Is Coding the New Second Language?

Is Coding the New Second Language? | Innovation | Smithsonian:

Coding is a skill that is more and more valuable in the digital age.  There are a number of individuals and institutions who want to make coding qualify academically as a second language.  This would mean that you could have the choice of taking coding classes instead of the traditional foreign language credit classes like Spanish or French.  There are several arguments for and against this movement.

  • Read the following articles about this movement to make coding qualify as an alternative language credit.  

Should Coding be the "New Foreign Language" Requirement?

Coding as a second language? Kentucky jockeys to be next to join the movement

Coding is a New Language for all 6th Graders in Minnesota School District

Is the best second language Java, Python, or Ruby?

  • What are your thoughts on this issue in general?
  • What do you think are the strongest arguments for and against coding as a language credit (from the articles above)?
  • Do you think coding should (or should not) be allowed to replace foreign languages as a credit?  Why?

No-makeup selfies campaign generates windfall for cancer research

No-makeup selfies campaign generates £2m windfall for cancer research | Media | The Guardian:

It started with a row at the Oscars, featured the current obsession with "selfies" and rapidly clogged up legions of Facebook streams. Tens of thousands of women, egged on by their friends, shared pictures of themselves without makeup to raise awareness of breast cancer.
By Friday the viral trend had transformed into a fundraising phenomenon, generating a £2m windfall for Cancer Research UK.
'via Blog this'

  • What do you think of this spontaneous social media campaign?  
  • Do you think social media is a viable way to raise money for charities?  
  • Are there other ways that charitable organizations could capitalize on this type of phenomenon in the future?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rembrandt's lessons for the selfie era

Rembrandt's lessons for the selfie era: why we must learn to look again | Technology |

"Self-portraits have always reflected self-esteem. It was true in the Renaissance. It was true for Rembrandt, whose late works, which include many self-portraits, go on display in the National Gallery on Thursday. And it is true for us now.

The current obsession with selfies – with makeup or without – reflects a surge in self-confidence that is both admirable and dangerous."

'via Blog this'

  1. Why does the article state that our current obsession with selfies is dangerous?  
  2. Do you agree with the article's statements about selfies?  Why or why not?

Monday, November 3, 2014

'Destiny' and Google Maps team up for 'Planet View'

'Destiny' and Google Maps team up for 'Planet View' : T-Lounge : Tech Times:

'via Blog this'

Read the article linked above, then watch the video to answer the questions below:

  1. What do you think of this?
  2. Do you play any games on Xbox or PlayStation?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wireless carriers are rolling out a horrible new way to track you | The Verge

Wireless carriers are rolling out a horrible new way to track you | The Verge:

"...the message is clear: there's a lucrative business in tracking users across the web, and carriers want in on it."

'via Blog this'

What are your thoughts on this article?
  • Do you think that what these companies are doing is ok?
  • Why or why not?
  • Is there anything we can do to prevent this from happening without our consent?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ear Bud Headphones Causing Deafness

Ear-bud headphones proven to cause Deafness

Ear Bud Headphones Causing Deafness
Because the tiny phones inserted into the ears are not as efficient at blocking outside sounds as the cushioned headsets, users tend to crank up the volume to compensate.
“I have an audiologist friend at Wichita State University who actually pulls off earphones of students he sees and asks, in the interest of science, if he could measure the output of the signal going into their heads,” Garstecki said. Often he finds students listening at 110 to 120 decibels. 
“That’s a sound level equivalent to measures that are made at rock concerts,” said Garstecki. “And it’s enough to cause hearing loss after only about an hour and 15 minutes.”

1.  Take a look at the following articles from some of the most respected news sources on the planet. 

  • What do they have to say about hearing loss and earphones? 

  • What are the most alarming facts, in your opinion, from the articles linked below?

2.  What are your thoughts about these articles?

  • Do you know someone who has suffered hearing loss due to prolonged exposure to loud noise?
  • Is this an issue that we should take more seriously? 

Should Alabama abandon DST?

Daylight Saving Time ends next Sunday, November 2nd, and the biannual brouhaha over the topic has begun yet again.  The State of Utah is seriously considering abandoning the practice of moving the clocks twice a year. Should Alabama do the same?

  1. Why do we have Daylight Savings Time?
  2. In your opinion, what are the best arguments for and against DST?
  3. Do you think we should keep using DST?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

‘Silent Dilemma’ in Digital Skills Divide

"Nearly a third of Americans have trouble navigating the Internet, says one researcher...
A new challenge is emerging from the cracks of the digital divide: digital readiness — helping those who have Internet access, but lack the skills to use it effectively. And librarians could play a huge role in turning the tide, some experts say.

'via Blog this'

  • According to the article, what problems are facing Americans, and why are they important to deal with now?
  • What are the possible repercussions of not addressing these growing issues?
  • What solutions have been proposed?
  • What will you do to address this problem, personally?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Training Kids for a World That Doesn't Exist

American Schools Are Training Kids for a World That Doesn't Exist | WIRED:

"Are Americans getting dumber?Our math skills are falling. Our reading skills are weakening. Our children have become less literate than children in many developed countries. But the crisis in American education may be more than a matter of sliding rankings on world educational performance scales. Our kids learn within a system of education devised for a world that increasingly does not exist."

'via Blog this'

  1. Do you agree with this article?
  2. According to the article, what are some of the biggest problems we are facing today?
  3. What do you think about the solutions suggested in the article?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Backbone of the Internet?

Yes, the Internet has a backbone, and it's something we rely on everyday...

"The Internet backbone refers to the principal data routes between large, strategically interconnected networks and core routers on the Internet. These data routes are hosted by commercial, government, academic and other high-capacity network centers, the Internet exchange points and network access points, that interchange Internet traffic between the countries, continents and across the oceans of the world. Internet service providers (often Tier 1 networks) participate in Internet backbone exchange traffic by privately negotiated interconnection agreements, primarily governed by the principle of settlement-free peering."

Read the articles linked above on the Internet backbone.  Click on the links in the Wikipedia page to further enhance your understanding of this subject.  

Once you have a good grasp of the topic, answer the questions below:
  • What, exactly, is the "backbone" of the internet? 
  • How long has it existed? 
  • Why is this structure so important, and what impact does it have on our way of life?
  • How is the computer you are using right now connected to the backbone?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

How Videogames Like Minecraft Actually Help Kids Learn to Read | WIRED

How Videogames Like Minecraft Actually Help Kids Learn to Read | WIRED:

'via Blog this'

  • Do you agree that games like Minecraft actually help you read, like the article suggests?  
  • Why or why not?  
  • What has been your own personal experience with games like this?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Big Brother is Teaching You: Huntsville students learn about life in the surveillance state: opinion |

Big Brother is Teaching You: Huntsville students learn about life in the surveillance state: opinion |

"At Huntsville City Schools, for the last 18 months, school officials have been monitoring your social media accounts. When I was your age, we called this "spying," but my generation has not only accepted institutional and corporate nosiness as an unavoidable fact of life, we've let our authorities put bland and deceptive labels on things that were once verboten. Torture is now enhanced interrogation. Government kidnapping is extraordinary rendition..."
'via Blog this'

  • What is your reaction to this article?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Power to Play

Power to Play:

Congratulations! You have advanced to the next round of the Power To Play application process. You are one step closer to receiving $2,500 to support your athletic program through Power To Play.

Beginning today, your school will be featured among our finalists on the Power To Play website Voting will be open until midnight Friday, Nov. 21.

In order to cast a vote, you must complete a short online registration process. Once registered, you will be able to cast one vote per school size category every day.

The more you engage your community during this phase, the better your chances of receiving a grant. We encourage you to get the word out about this opportunity in every way that you can, particularly through the use of social media.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Have students at your school use their smartphones to make short videos highlighting just how much school spirit your community has. The students should be as creative as possible and include as many people in the video as they can. 
  • Have students take photos at ballgames, on campus or of facilities, equipment or other elements that could benefit from the grant money. 
  • Submit your posts to Instagram using #PowerToPlayAL 
  • Visit to access an editable PDF poster to assist you in publicizing your grant during the voting phase. 
  • Let us know about your videos and photos related to Power To Play so we can help share your story. Send them to 

To be eligible to receive a grant, your application must receive at least 100 votes by the deadline.  Remember that your voters must be at least 13 years old.

Again, congratulations! Now, let the voting begin.

'via Blog this'

Friday, September 19, 2014

What are New Literacies? - Writing Commons

What are New Literacies? - Writing Commons:

What are New Literacies?

"What are New Literacies?" was written by Kyle D. Stedman

Something seems wrong

A few days ago, I tweeted something that wasn’t particularly funny, but I got this response:1
cory folse tweet
I don’t know anyone named Cory Folse, and I don’t know who this @jokesallnight person is, either. So I ignored the tweet, kind of glad I had made someone happy, but kind of confused.
But then a couple of days ago, I was still thinking about this weird tweet, so I decided to see who this Cory Folse person was. I clicked on his user name, which showed me a list of his most recent tweets, with the most recent ones on the top:
tweet 2

Ah. Now I see that Cory isn’t trying to be my friend at all. He’s a spammer, someone (or perhaps a computer program) who is trying to get people to check out the @jokesallnight user. He sends random tweets to random people all the time, trying to compliment people to soften them up and make them more likely not to see through his lousy advertising. (Whatever you do, please don’t reward this behavior by looking up @jokesallnight and following that account on Twitter. I reported Cory for spam and blocked him.)
So let’s think about the clues that Cory wasn’t really my friend. Something seemed wrong in a lot of ways: I didn’t know his name, his response didn’t make sense in context, and he never uploaded an image to represent his user name. I’ve used Twitter enough to know that those three things combined often mean that a response-tweet is spam. You could say that I’m “literate” in the ways of Twitter, so I recognize when people act in “illiterate” ways.
I’m sure you know people who seem surprisingly illiterate when working with digital technology. I get forwards all the time that claim Apple or Applebee’s will give me $2,000 if I continue the forwarding chain, and others that tell me about all the stupid luxuries Democrats or travel agents have insisted on when flying. Those who are email literate recognize the signs that these things probably aren’t true (and a quick search on usually clears up any lingering doubts about what’s a scam and what isn’t). There’s even a whole website,, chronicling people who read the fake news on and think it’s real.
What’s wrong with these email-forwarders and fake-news-believers? I suggest that they’re not literate in the ways of new media. They saw something that would be fishy to many readers who are better acquainted with the usual moves made in those contexts, but no alarms went off in their minds.
This article is an exploration of new media literacies, with the end goals of reminding you not to be a sucker who falls for illiterate silliness and encouraging you to rely on your new media literacies when composing with digital technology. To get there, I want us to think about why we use the word literacy to discuss these online issues, how literacy has been expanded in other contexts, and what new media has to do with it all.

The Traditional Model of Literacy

We usually think of a particular skill when we hear the word literacy—knowing how to read. When students can barely read, teachers complain, “They’re barely literate!” When politicians say, “Kids today are illiterate!” they mean that the kids can’t read—or perhaps more subtly, that they can’t read very well. That is, they don’t understand the complexities and nuances that practiced readers see in a big splattering of words on a page or screen.
The politician’s claim reminds us of another aspect of literacy that’s usually tied to the reading angle: the ability to write. When politicians rile up crowds by calling kids illiterate, they often mean, “Kids today don’t understand complex reading, and they can’t produce complex writing, either.” So implied in the skill of literacy is also the ability to write. This makes sense; if I can’t make sense of a piece of writing’s purpose, organization, figures of speech, and rhetorical moves, I probably can’t create a piece of writing that uses those aspects of writing in sophisticated ways.
And as you can hear from my examples of the teacher and the politician, literacy is often a word that shows up when people want to describe something that people don’t have. I’m unlikely to be praised for my literacy when I accurately summarize a tough essay in class, and I’m unlikely to read a particularly nice magazine article and say to the author, “Oh, you were so particularly literate in that piece!” Literacy is usually used more as a base-line for competence, something that we ought to have but that stands out most noticeably when it’s not there, like the space where a demolished building used to be, or when we see a person not wearing any pants.

New Models of Literacy

Why go into so much detail about the traditional model of literacy—the skill of knowing how to effectively read and write? Because when literacy is applied to new contexts—as it is all the time—it often retains the baggage of its traditional usage. Even in these new contexts, literacy is often used to describe a lack that we wish were filled, just as when we describe people who can’t read. Literacy is also often tied to effective reading and effective writing (though sometimes reading and writing are expanded to different forms of understanding and acting).
For example, I described myself as “literate” at the beginning of this piece because I saw through the Twitter spammer’s tricks. That’s because I was separating myself from the “illiterate” people who fall for his spam, and because I wanted to emphasize that communicating well on Twitter is tied both to reading and writing tweets effectively.
A quick Google search for literacy shows me various other ways that people use the word:
  • Financial literacy: the ability to understand complex financial information, and the ability to act wisely on that financial know-how
  • Information literacy: the ability to find the right information for a given task, and the ability to use that information in the best way (for an essay, work assignment, protest rally, or whatever)
  • Media literacy: the ability to read or view the various tricks used by the media to subtly emphasize one point of view, and the ability tocompose messages that use media trickery effectively for a given rhetorical situation

In all three of those examples of literacies, I imagine the term developed as people began to realize how illiterate their friends and colleagues seemed to be. (Perhaps most terminology begins this way: as a way for individuals to draw attention to their own strengths in comparison to a rabble of “those other people.” I definitely feel kind of cool when I catch a Twitter spammer.) In that framework, financial literacy works as a helpful term because so many people seem to lack basic skills related to budgeting, managing credit cards, and paying off debt. To people who have financial literacy, those who lack it seem to be missing a set of skills so fundamental that to not have them is akin to a reading person’s feelings toward someone who can’t read. Along the same tack, information literacy works as a term because so many people seem to lack the basic skills necessary to finding the information they need, especially in our increasingly information-centered world. And media literacy is a helpful term because so many people are duped by the political and social messages embedded in the news, movies, and music we consume.
So what happens when we apply these same ideas to new media reading and writing contexts?

New Media Literacies

New media is an awkward term; on its surface, it seems to imply media (news, music, TV, movies) that’s recent—it’s new. From that perspective, new media would be content that was distributed in the last few days or weeks, as opposed to all that hype about Justin Bieber, which was so last year.
But new media encompasses far more than that. In the introduction to an issue of the scholarly journal American Journal of Business, Jo Ann Atkin describes a complex mess of activities that could be termed “new media”:
What do we exactly mean when we say “new media?” Most definitions of new media (and there are plenty) usually focus on three characteristics. That is, new media is a form of interactive communication that is both digital in format and distribution. This definition would encompass such technologies as: gaming, web sites, chat rooms, e-mail, virtual reality, streaming video or audio, blogs, real simple syndication (RSS), short message service (SMS), Twitter, wikis, online communities (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn), and YouTube to name a few. The definition also implies that the computer or information technology plays a critical role in both message content/design and dissemination. (3)
Atkin’s list of new media technologies is a treasure trove for different angles through which we can understand new media literacy. As with other kinds of literacy, I’m reminded of all the people I know who aren’t literate in these areas (and I bet you know a few too).
For example, from the reading angle, I can think of plenty of people who
  • are confused when faced with a video game, not knowing where to look for visual cues about what to do next
  • don't notice the visual cues on a computer desktop that instantly draw the attention of a more literate person
  • miss the signs that an email or tweet is a phishing scam
  • don't realize that blogs are inherently spaces for dialogue in the comments section
  • never stop to consider that web designers have purposefully chosen colors, layouts, fonts, images, and multimedia elements to make viewers think and feel in specific ways

And from the writing angle, there are plenty of folks who
  • try to use Facebook in ways that feel weird to those who are literate in its use
  • produce movies for YouTube that come across as boring, badly paced, ugly, or annoying
  • write emails without knowing the expectations of their audience (who, for instance, might prefer to be addressed in complete sentences)
  • think their Twitter followers really want to know every boring detail of their lives
  • create graphics without carefully choosing effective fonts, colors, and layout options that will be most effective for their audience
  • participate in wikis without respecting and following the formatting and structural decisions made by those who went before them

All of these people could be described as needing one or more of the skills wrapped up in the phrase new media literacy. These skills often have both a technical and a rhetorical angle. That is, those with exceptional new media literacy are masters at understanding and using technologies (e.g. getting around on social media sites, using photo editing software, producing videos), and they’re also masters at understanding the rhetorical needs of reading and composing in a specific time and space, for a specific audience who will judge a composition to be effective (e.g. designing a website that visitors think is attractive, saying something to Facebook friends that is likely to be “liked,” not looking like an ass when plodding around online in general).

So What?

If you’re asking, “So what?” the answer should be obvious: illiterate people need training and practice in literacy to become effective in contexts where those literacies matter. And just as traditional text literacy can be taught, so can these other literacies, both through immersion in contexts where those literacies are used effectively (like a U.S. citizen moving to Japan to learn the language, or a seventy-five-year-old woman who spends hours online every day to learn the conventions used by effective websites) and through instruction from experts.
The good news is that many traditional-age college students already have a solid grip on many new media skills—and they may not even realize how skillful they are! But there’s a subtle problem as well: like a child who goes around telling his family that he knows how to read when he really only knows his alphabet, it’s possible to over-estimate the sophistication of one’s new media literacy skills. That is, I might say, “Um, I’ve been online every day since I was eight. Of course I know what makes an effective website or video or audio essay.” But when given a chance to show off some of my skills, I might suddenly be found lacking. All that skill I have at navigating new media spaces may not have translated into a complex understanding of the literacies at play there, keeping me from effectively being unable to describe what makes an effective new media text and even more unable to make one myself.
That’s why writing new media texts—or in this case, composing is probably the better term—is so important: it gives us practice in using our new media literacies in powerful ways while showing us the places where our skills are most lacking sophistication. It also reminds us of the importance of building our new media literacies in community. When you compose a new media text—an email, video, digital song, audio essay, blog post, wiki page, or tweet—ask a few people what they think about it. Get their gut reactions, their subtle, first-impression-style judgments about if you’ve used your technology well and if you’ve effectively communicated to your audience in a way that works for them.
So go out and compose like crazy in any format you can find or invent—but all the while, ask yourself what you already know and what you still need to learn. And for goodness sakes, try not to look like a spammer while you’re out there.
[1] On Twitter, anything starting with an @ represents a user account. So this tweet was written by Cory Folse, who tweets from the account @corsett445. In the text of his tweet, he mentioned @kstedman (me!) and some other user called @jokesallnight. Because he mentioned our user names, Cory’s tweet will appear as a “mention” when we log into Twitter. It’s much like when someone “tags” you on Facebook.
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

UA President Bonner condemns use of 'offensive racial language' in Snapchat

Article 1:  

The Crimson White :: :: President Bonner condemns use of 'offensive racial language' in Snapchat

Chi Omega's official Facebook post in response to the incident:

UA President Judy Bonner's official email in response to the incident, sent to all faculty, staff, and students:

"As many of you already know, one of our students posted a photo on Snap Chat on Saturday afternoon that included particularly offensive racial language. I immediately asked the Office of Student Conduct to conduct a full investigation and was assured by the national Chi Omega headquarters that they had already begun an investigation of their own. There will be appropriate University consequences once our investigation is completed. These consequences will be in addition to any sanctions Chi Omega's national officers decide to impose.

We are all extremely disappointed when any student uses language that is disrespectful or offensive to any segment of the UA community. We are especially sad that this incident occurred on a day that was an exciting and happy one for the young women who participated in fall recruitment.

Behavior, actions and choices that disparage other students are particularly reprehensible and do not represent the values or meet the expectations of our University community. UA and the members of our Panhellenic sororities took great strides forward on bid day by pledging a diverse group of young women that included 21 African American members. The results of bid day and the dedication of hundreds of students, employees and alumni who worked extremely hard this past year to achieve the important and significant milestones UA reached on bid day cannot and should not be dismissed or minimized.

I want to assure you that The University of Alabama will not allow this incident to interrupt our progress. We will continue to work diligently and with a renewed commitment to make sure that UA is a welcoming and inclusive campus every day of the week.

Judy Bonner



  1. Read both articles from the University of Alabama's student paper, The Crimson White (linked above).  
  2. Look at the response posted on Facebook from the Chi Omega sorority, and President Judy Bonner's email to all Alabama students (posted above)
  3. In a comment below, give your response to this situation:  

  • Include details from both the email, the Facebook post, and the articles linked above.
  • Discuss how technology like social media and the internet have played a role in how this situation developed and how it is now being addressed.   

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

10 Ways Social Media Can Improve Writing in Your Classroom

Lisa Nielsen: The Innovative Educator:

10 Ways Social Media Can Improve Writing in Your Classroom:

'via Blog this'

Post a comment below in response to this article on social media and writing.

  • What made sense to you? 
  • What points had you not considered before? 
  • What is your overall reaction - agree or disagree? 
  • Did the author leave anything out?​

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Critical thinking as a consumer: What's wrong with this article?

The iPhone Is Still The Best Smartphone | TechCrunch:

  1. What is wrong with this article?  
  2. Why should you be wary of articles like this?

Hint:  Review the definitions of the following terms, and use them in composing your response
  • Bias
  • Propaganda
  • Opinion
  • Fact
  • Evidence
  • Validity
  • Logical Fallacy

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Technology Blog Project: Create a new blog

Blog Project: 

  • Create a new blog using Google's "Blogger" 
  • Post the link to your blog in a comment below
  • Customize the address, layout, background, template, design, colors, fonts, etc.
  • Create a new post (bloggers post about breaking news, updates, advice, reviews, opinions, issues, how-to instructions, etc.)
  • Enable Google + comments.
  • Embed the link to your blog in your website.

Each part of the project will be graded as a separate assignment.  All project assignments listed above are due by Friday.  Let me know if you have any questions or issues in class or via email.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Translator turns actual dolphin sounds into English

Dolphin whistle instantly translated by computer - life - 26 March 2014 - New Scientist:

  • What are the problems facing this technology?  
  • What are they doing to overcome these challenges and perfect the process?
  • What would you ask a dolphin (if you had the opportunity)?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

U.S. Navy successfully turns seawater into fuel

U.S. Navy successfully turns seawater into fuel for ships and planes | DVICE:

"Railguns aren't the only thing the U.S. Navy is bragging about this week. Scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. announced they have successfully turned seawater into fuel...."

  • What are your thoughts on this "game changing" breakthrough?
  • Explain in your own words how this process works and what the implications might be on other areas of industry (outside the military).  How will this affect us?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Graphene, the Material of Tomorrow

Bend It, Charge It, Dunk It: Graphene, the Material of Tomorrow -

  • What are some possible products and/or industries that could be affected by this material in the future?
  • What would you like to see made out of graphene?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance (+playlist)

1.  Since we watched this video in class yesterday, today you will post a comment with your thoughts on the "new bionics" and the implications this type of technology has for all humans.  

2.  Considering the last post on the Harvard study of mice and reversing the effects of aging, what are your thoughts on the combined implications of these technologies?