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In my post the other day I was postulating a new normal where every internet user was at least known to the service provider that they used so that they could be held accountable for the things that they said and did online. Reading the opinion piece in today’s age makes me think that my predictions/expectations may be closer to fruition than I thought:
A LITTLE over a decade ago, just before the masses discovered the digital universe, the internet was a borderless new frontier: a terra nullius to be populated by individuals, groups and programmers as they saw fit. There were few rules and no boundaries. Freedom and open standards, sharing information for the greater good was the ethos.
Today, the open internet we once knew is fracturing into a series of gated communities or fiefdoms controlled by giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and to a lesser extent Microsoft. A billion-dollar battle conducted in walled cities where companies try to lock our consumption into their vision of the internet. It has left some lamenting the ”web we lost”.
The same firm in some cases now provides not just the content we consume but the devices we consume it on and a plethora of other services to help manage our digital lives, be it email, online storage or e-commerce.
Increasingly, the web kings are expanding into each other’s turf and butting heads with smaller pretenders to the throne, such as Twitter, locking competitors out of their ecosystems but, more importantly, locking us, the consumers, in.
”There’s no question that we are witnessing a clash of the titans over ‘our’ data”, says Jennifer Zanich, serial Australian entrepreneur and now co-founder of start-up Paloma Mobile.
Data is the oil of the digital age, handed over willingly by consumers seduced by the latest flashy new web service. Big data is where the big money is made on the web today, and famous US venture capitalist Mary Meeker describes it as the ”Wild West” of the internet.
The natural question that any parent should ask when considering the role of computers in education is how much is enough?
“What Kevin Rudd has done is raise expectations through the roof all year promising he’d come up with innovative and original thinking but when the time came to deliver he failed,” Mrs Bishop told ABC Radio today.
“He’s clearly vacated the field of new ideas and there was nothing remotely revolutionary in anything he had to say.”
Yesterday, Mr Rudd pledged to deliver a computer for every Australian student in years 9 to 12, amongst a raft of initiatives to ensure students had world-class internet access.
Mrs Bishop said schools already had an adequate number of PCs in place.
“I visit schools all across Australia I’m yet to see a school that is not well served with computers.”
A 2003 Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report found Australian students had “universal access” to computers, she said.
We have three PC’s in this house and my children, even the three year old, are amazingly competent in their use. I encourage them to develop their computer skills because I recognise that the PC is the portal to the modern world of information. However I really don’t think that more is better when it comes to computers in education . My daughter’s school has an adequate number of computers and they are very well used by the students when it is considered appropriate by their teachers.
Labor under Rudd would see an individual machine supplied for each child and they want to ensure that every school is connected to broadband. I actually agree with the notion that every school should have connectivity to broadband and I don’t think that The ALP has any monopoly on that idea. However the notion that every high school student should have an individual lap top, with net access no doubt, strikes me as going against all notions of sensible use of the technology by young people as they grow up. We have long been advised that to protect our children that we as parents should ensure that we only allow access to the net from a PC in a public part of the house, that parents should maintain an overview of our children’s actual usage by perusing, the history logs on our PC’s. Yet under Rudd’s plan this parental over view is going to be severely compromised as our children are given unfettered access to the web , unfettered access to chat rooms with their baggage and the inevitable predators who prey on the vulnerable. Anyone who is honest will tell you that filtering programs like “net Nanny” are by no means perfect and computer savvy children can disable them quickly enough so there is in reality no way to ensure that the content that Rudd’s “Education revolution” will expose our children to will actually be good for them as young people. Which of course begs the question of the veracity of the information on the Internet. We all know that there is lots of information on the net but young people are by their very nature rather credulous and they acquire the critical facilities to decide on the real value of the information only over time. The guidance of us as parents and those we nominate as our proxies (their teachers) have a very big part to play in helping them to develop decrement and an ability to find the specs of truth amounts the vast amount of dross that populates the web. Of course you will not hear any of these concerns from the Ruddites who seem to be in the thrall of the purveyors of the technology, because surely the computer makers and the software writers must be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of selling so many new machines and operating systems under a Ruddite regime.
We are all agreed that our children need to be computer literate to find their place in the modern world, as in good cooking there comes a point where more is not necessarily better. A laptop for every child in years 9 to 12 is without doubt a case of far too much salt in the soup.