What did students learn before 24/7 distraction was invented?

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Front Cover

Dull, isn’t it? If you can’t see the text on the front cover, it says


Authorized by the Minister of Education

Price 6 cents

The T. Eaton Cy Limited

Toronto Canada

My copy, found at a thrift, is clothbound and published by a historic but now defunct department store (Eaton’s), possibly at cost and/or on a subsidy, for use in the schools (1923–1938). It is printed in a largish typeface with black and white illustrations every few pages.

It was published in a mostly rural, post-wilderness, pre-World War II environment. Few had heard of nihilist philosophies or the moral duty to indulge oneself.

I used to work in textbook publishing, and here are a few of the differences that struck me, between the Ontario Reader and the books I worked on, for what they are worth:

- The reading level was well above… click here to read whole article and make comments



Students: Get more value from online reading

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Internet map 1024 - transparent/The Opte Project

Recently, we noted that many executives at high tech companies limit the time their children spend on new media, and that too much new media use can prevent the deep attention required for transferring information from short term to long term memory.

This is a serious issue for young people because some things—the alphabet, the times tables, the capitals of countries, key dates, etc., are not intuitive. They are committed to long term memory so that one can learn a great many other things through them. Eventually, we learn enough that we can use intuition and reflection.

For example, if a student learns that the American Civil War took place between 1861 and 1865, and that women gained the right to vote in that country in 1920, she can assume that women did not vote… click here to read whole article and make comments



Hi tech parents know that overuse of Internet media changes thinking patterns

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Image result for facebook

Facebook – an example of a social-media site – had over one billion active users in October 2012.


Changes them in ways that don’t help kids. Recently, we looked at why Steve Jobs was a low tech parent, and why it isn’t really all that surprising. One thing that high tech parents know is that the type of mental activity that social media encourage makes long-term learning difficult.

Not everyone has grasped the issues clearly, and that includes some major cultural figures: Canada’s Globe and Mail reported at the end of 2011,

Last week, Canadian author Margaret Atwood thrilled her 285,000-plus Twitter followers by defending their kind as “dedicated readers” who are boldly exploring new frontiers in literacy. Calling the Internet in general “a great… click here to read whole article and make comments



Why Steve Jobs was a low tech parent

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In an announcement that coincides with the release of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus—a predicted preteen must-have—New York Times tech columnist Nick Bilton tells us that Steve Jobs (1955–2011), Apple co-founder and pioneer of the Mac, the iPhone and the iPad, restricted his four children’s use of technology:

I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.
Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.
Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends.

What, Bilton wonders, do the high tech whizzes know that the rest of… click here to read whole article and make comments



The TV audience is graying fast. What does that mean?

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Braun HF 1 TV receiver, 1958/Wikimedia Commons Note how the appearance of the set underscores the passivity of the viewer.

Last month, we noted that the kids are moving on from Facebook to immediate messaging. Well, in another major shift, the TV audience is going gray.

The Financial Times tells us that the big ad buyers are no longer in hot pursuit of TV: “The US television industry has just suffered the first decline in early advertising-buying since the recession [2009].” Down 7.7% for broadcast spending.

Ad buyers have more options now, including smartphones and tablet. The biggest ad buyers, automotive and personal care goods, are cutting back.

It is true that TV still commands the biggest share of advertising spending (38 per cent), mainly due to live shows like the World Cup final viewed live by 26.5 million Americans, for example.… click here to read whole article and make comments



If you think only you know your pin number, let us hope you are right

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Would you know if this ATM has been rigged to steal your data? Actually, you probably wouldn’t. /Rfc1394, Awyong Jeffrey, Mordecai Salleh

Further to assaults on privacy on the Internet, the people who steal our identity at ATMs and use it to raid our bank accounts have become much more sophisticated in the past decade.

Gizmodo freaks out a bit on the subject, but not without some justification, as we shall see:

In a little over a decade, ATM skimmers have gone from urban myth to a wildly complex, ever-evolving suite of technologies that has the potential to be the worst nightmare of anyone with a bank account.

Maybe, but in any event, a quick potted history, in five points:

- At first, many doubted that a technology for capturing data while the card was in use really existed. Then in December 2002, a… click here to read whole article and make comments



Is social media creating a “spiral of silence”? Polarizing our society?

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Growth in social networks, patents 2003–2010 Mark Nowotarski

I like social media as much as anyone. But liking something shouldn’t blind one to its limitations and flaws. A recent study from Pew Research Center and Rutgers, focusing on the United States, looks at whether social media promote or stifle new viewpoints.

A survey of 1,801 American adults reported their willingness to discuss the Snowden leaks in person or online. The benchmark was an earlier Pew survey which showed that the American public was divided on the question, with 49% saying the leaks served the public interest and 44% saying they didn’t. So how did online discussion stack up against in person discussion, in terms of participants’ willingness to give their view?

In “How Social Media Silences Debate” (New York Times) Claire Cain Miller explains,

The researchers set out to investigate the effect of… click here to read whole article and make comments



Are video games dangerous for kids? Maybe, but it depends what they supplant

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"Virtual-camera-system" for developing video games/ WikiLauren

Robert Morris University in Chicago, which gives out 1400 athletics and activity scholarships a year, will now offer one for performance in the video game "League of Legends”:

"It's a team sport," [athletics director Kurt] Melcher said. "There's strategy involved. You have to know your role in the game. Obviously it's not cardiovascular in any way, but it's mental. There are elements that go into it that are just like any other sport."
Since news of the scholarships broke last week, Melcher said, the school has received hundreds of inquiries from prospective e-athletes. University President Michael Viollt said the video game team could be a way to reach a population underserved by higher education — technologically minded young men who aren't into team sports, and who need an extra boost to get to college and stay there.

Twenty-seven… click here to read whole article and make comments



Is your telephone company paid to snoop on you?

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It may sound as though I am harping on the subject of there being no privacy on the Internet.

But in fact there is no privacy on the Internet. A current controversy in Canada highlights this.

The federal privacy commissioner’s office released documents earlier this year showing that Canada’s federal government asked the heavily regulated telecoms (phone and Internet companies) to disclose private information about customers 1.2 million times per year, according to documents released in 2011. (Figures for further years were not released.)

There are about 35 million people in Canada. The companies gave the government the data at least 784,756 times (only three of the nine telecoms reported, so the total is probably greater).

The industry association won’t say, even to the privacy commissioner, how often individual companies released information without a warrant. A warrant would imply suspected criminal activity. And… click here to read whole article and make comments



There is no such thing as anonymity in social media

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"Conversationprism" by Brian Solis and JESS3 . Creative Commons

Some new social media apps focus on telling one’s inmost thoughts, pet peeves, and personal secrets —things one used to confide only to one’s trusted friends.

Whisper, for Android and iOS, permits users to share their thoughts and feelings on topics such as “Love & Romance,” “Faith,” and “Politics” in apparent anonymity. The theory is that discussions will be more truthful. An example: “I don’t think I could ever be faithful. Bachelor for life.” Well, true, he wouldn’t want that to get around, because it’s one thing to be a bachelor by choice and another thing to be a bachelor if no one will go out with him.

Then there’s Secret, also for Android and iOS—similar except that it shares your “anonymous” posts with your contacts from Facebook… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Connecting is MercatorNet's blog about social media and the virtual self. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your tips and suggestions. Post comments. We want to make it as lively as possible. The editor is Denyse O'Leary, a Canadian journalist. 

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