Harold Rheingold’s keynote at Maricopa Tech ’09

Date May 25, 2009

I originally posted this on May 19, 2008 here for the Maricopa Technology Conference.

Getting ready for the Harold Rheingold, our morning Keynote. He’s thanking the teachers in his life, and said he is from AZ. He’s talking about his relationship with his 5th grade teacher. When he was asked to interview the principal he decided to become a writer. The year after he was sent to Art, and his mother was the teacher. This is where all of the misfits hung out. He began writing by using a typewriter, but then realized there was something called a computer. He bought his first modem in the early 1980s and it cost him $500.00! He hoped to get tons of information online, but there wasn’t much. Instead he found a community.

He realizes that the tools kids use today is far beyond where we were 25 years ago, but these are the descendants of the BBS of 1982. He’s talking about his daughter telling his wife that “Daddy’s talking to his computer again!” When his daughter got to middle school and used search engines to write papers, things clicked. His daughter and the web came of age at the same time. His slides are hilarious with links to Lycos, Alta Vista, and Infoseek. He talked to his daughter about using books to check your facts; putting terms into search engines is not guarantee that what you get back is factual. Authority use to reside in the author and publisher, but not the reader/consumer needs to ask questions about the information you find online.

A critical attitude kids today need when using the web is to always question what they find online. For example, search the name of the author of things. Teach kids critical thinking skills. Rheingold went to his daughter’s school and realized that critical thinking was a way for kids to question their teachers. School is a plot to encourage kids to question authority.

Education media literacy wise is largely happening after school now, or when “the teacher isn’t watching”. These digital natives teach each other, while schools remain a place to stick our kids when we’re at work and where society can train their citizens.

In 1995 we had this fear of internet porn show up. This moral panic over internet sexual predators could’ve led to all ISPs to censor everything down to a 12 year old. The ACLU court hearing where Rheingold testified was shot down fortunately. Kids are pretty good at spotting phonies. The predators are in the neighborhoods in real life, not necessarily online.

Today we have to harness the enthusiasm of children and teens today to develop a public voice that they care about. Media available today from camera phones, laptops, FB, Youtube is where it is today. There is an economic divide but smaller than you think. Even if they don’t have access…we need to get them using it to be successful in the 21st century.

Digital media is continuing to change, and physical public spacing is more and more closed to kids. They are moving political movements online. This is all leading to a broader participatory culture, that include RSS, social bookmarking, video sharing, mashups, etc etc etc… all have 3 common characteristics. All broadcast & receive from and to everyone, the are all social where power comes from the people and they enable faster, cheaper collective action. He said computers are mind amplifiers. Young people creative as well as consume online. They are no longer passive… they seek, adopt, appropriate and invent.

What is new is that the population of digital natives carry mobile devices, know how to use them and the internet is NOT a transformative new tech. It’s always been there like water and electricity. This all comes natural to them. Internet media is not a disengagement, and he doesn’t think they are disengaged. This is powerful tool to engage in their own voices with issues they care about. The net lets them connect to things they care about. Teachers can show them how to use these tools, contest claims, organize, etc… Media production differs from other sorts of products that have the power to persuade, power, educate, inspire movements, civilizations, etc… He’s talking about Jenkin’s new work about teaching to the 21st century. There’s a shift to how our community now works.

When his daughter came home from school, she didn’t like school because they rang bells, lined kids up in rows, etc… He has now been teaching how to been more of a community, a rhetoric of blogging. Check out http://www.socialtext.net/medialiteracy.

What does civic engagement mean to us today? I think this is the largest question that he is asking of us and we’re asking of our administrators. This is the question, and people aren’t looking to this question. They aren’t thinking globally. They are thinking about standards, objectives and not leaving those kids behind. This is the wrong way to go about things.

Rheingold’s discussing http://socialmediaclassroom.com/ his website. This is a site to review, check, and engage in. When he began talking about social media, message boards and blogs flattened authority in the classroom. Create wireless creative classroom circles. There is no back row in a circle! Rheingold teach social media, so he can’t ask the students to turn off the computers…so we have to work around issues of authority in the classroom.

Don’t just keep up with the technologies. Keep up with the literacies. Beautiful. Pure beauty.