Apple’s Education Event

Apple had an education-themed event today in New York and announced three things:

It is a lot to try and take in at once and it could have far-reaching effects on education (emphasis on “could” there), but I’ll let you read up on Apple’s marketing material on it first before I try to put my own thoughts down on things.

Regardless, there hasn’t been a strictly-education-themed event from Apple for quite some time (read: ever?), so this is quite the change.

Digital Literacy

A friend of mine, Nate Beran, wrote a blog post titled Digital Literacy and it really hit home for me on a couple of levels. You really should read his post in its entirety, it is really good.

Here is the main gist of the post:

My concept of Digital Literacy is a set of basic skills that enable a user to understand, navigate, and successfully utilize tools regardless of familiarity. Simple things that technologists take for granted. Things like universal shortcut combos, finding standard commands (even knowing what standard commands are in the first place), or how to manipulate data.

Really good, and I agree with a lot of it. I would love for the emphasis to be less and less on  Microsoft Office tools and more and more on what computers do (and can do) along with basic concepts. Get vendor-specific tools out of there and start teaching people how to think (or giving them the option to do so)!

It is funny, though, to think about mobile operating systems and how they have handled this problem. For the most part, they’ve just eliminated the file system completely. How much longer are general consumers even going to need to look at anything that resembles a file system?

Just some more food for thought.

Technology and FERPA in Higher Education

I stumbled upon this article about the end of the use of public wikis at Georgia Tech for educational purposes due to worries about FERPA violations. To say that this article scares and saddens me is an understatement, and not just because I work in IT in higher education.

The limiting of what an educational professional can and cannot use in a classroom is troubling in itself, even when there can be very good reasons to do so. The limiting of technology use that can increase collaboration and technical skills over the threat of a violation because of a piece of legislation is terrifying.

Does Georgia Tech’s legal counsel have a point? Sure, and it is something that FERPA has enabled as everyone in higher ed continues to walk on eggshells over the new regulations. It is an example of the unintended consequences of legislation, especially ones as far reaching as FERPA.

Much of what FERPA was enacted to accomplish is good, but when it stifles the use of good technology and teaching methodologies, then you need to think is it worth it.

Needless to say, care has to be taken with how students are being seen in the public when using school sponsored technology mediums. Here is a good article about some thoughts on Social Media and FERPA.