Thursday, 13 September 2012

"Amusing, puzzling and horrifying?"


"Amusing, puzzling and horrifying."  That's how Erika Shaker describes a "Roundup" column that I write for Our Schools, Our Selves, a Canadian education journal published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The column consists of short items, many related to technology.  This is the first of posts from that Our Schools Roundup column.

Replace teachers with computers

That is the recipe for the future of education as seen by Rupert Murdoch.  Not content with promoting a lack of ethics in his newspapers, he wants to undermine education as well.  "The digital age opens up a tremendous opportunity in education," he told the Times of London.

Murdoch's solution to education--"with the aid of technology, schools could use only the finest teachers in every course...and make them available to every child." 

This was his plan in purchasing Wireless Generation, which makes teaching assistance and student data software.  His move into education came just as the wiretapping of the sad and the famous came to light and he had to abandon News of the World.  He threatened to do the same to education.

Wireless Generation had a $27million no-bid contract with education in New York State.  After the light shone on the wiretapping, the state returned the contract saying it was incomplete because it didn't deal with the "responsibility issues  involving the parent company."


Twitter terrorist teacher

A Mexican teacher was held in jail for passing on a message to her brother-in-law about a potential terrorist attack at a school near Vera Cruz.  The relative retweeted the message.  Both were picked up for  causing mass hysteria and dozens of car accidents.   Another 30 tweeters are under investigation.

Maybe they heard about Murdoch taking over education and panicked.


Tweet that university application

The University of Iowa School of Management lets students use the 140-characters of Twitter to submit an admission application.  The Columbia University Business School is more generous--it allows 200-character answer to "What is your post MBA professional goal?"

Of course, the applicant can always include a link to their blog or web site if they can interest the admissions officer to go beyond the tweet.


Not while on your bike

The Chicago city council has adopted an ordinance "barring bicyclists from using their cellphones to text message or talk on the phone without  a hands-free device."  The council was told there had been 1600 crashes and five people killed during the year in phone-related crashes.

In a hearing, one presenter said "I've actually seen people riding and texting with both hands."


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