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2001 Gwen Gawith: Digitised Cinderellas

2001 Cathy de Moll: The Internet and September 11 disaster

2001 Mark Treadwell: Cognitive and conceptual development

2001 Gillian Eadie: ICT directions

2001 Rob Green: Integrating ICT into the secondary curriculum: PD for teachers

2001 Gwen Gawith: Garbage detection is a key component of information literacy

2000 Ron Johnston: Knowledge is abundant, but the ability to use it is scarce

2000 Stuart Hale: The last communication revolution.

1999 Pete Sommerville: Virtual field trips.

1999 Gwen Gawith: An open letter to Bill Gates.

1999 Gwen Gawith: Hype, hope or information literacy.

1998 Mark Treadwell: The emperor's new computer.

1998 Nola Campbell: A conversation about being online.

1998 Gwen Gawith: Intelligent technologies: Teaching for information literacy.

1997 Gwen Gawith: Technology and ODL: Rent an information literate luddite!

1997 Gwen Gawith: Technology and learning.

1996 Gwen Gawith: IT: charms or challenges.

1994 Gwen Gawith: new technologies: new skills for information literacy.

information literacy:
ICT & learning online

Guest Editorial

This powerful and thought provoking editorial by Cathy de Moll from Online Class was published shortly after the New York disaster. It is reproduced with her permission. She invites New Zealand teachers to visit the Online Class site. Cathy describes the horror of September 11 as "a unique opportunity to observe and discuss the new 21st Century realities about terrorism, the Internet and our schools."

Cathy de Moll

President: Online Class

http://www.onlineclass.com

tbt@onlineclass.com

Within minutes of the first tragic events, the Internet was so jammed that it was difficult to use for school work or for keeping up with the latest news. Popular Web sites such as National Public Radio were forced to create new text-only pages so there was even a hope that access could keep up with demand. Still, many of us were frustrated by the slower speeds of communication and access to information. We are spoiled already.

Equally quickly, the best and the worst human instincts were displayed on the World Wide Web Web sites for lost New Yorkers, lists of hospital rosters, aid stations, grief counseling, relevant and instantaneous news, discussion groups, videos and transcripts of speeches and communications, messages of peace and solidarity from around the world, pieces of the rubble up for auction, scam sites collecting "donations," pictures of people falling to their deaths, messages of hate and division.

As the crisis continued, the media's analysis and discussion turned to the root cause and effect of the violence we witnessed together. Pundits were quick to point out the power and culpability of the Internet - its ability to network terrorist cells, allowing them to

coordinate, aid and plot destruction; its capacity to promote violence to our world's children and to expose them to sights sounds and information unfit for any human to experience. In the past few years and months, politically motivated hackers have

used their skills to disrupt government and business services as a tool of protest and a statement of invisible power.

Now we're told to expect much worse - to anticipate human and physical destruction aided and perpetrated through computer technology. We are afraid. And in fear, we are sometimes likely to recoil from the technology we perceive to bring us closer to danger. But we must remember that the causes of terrorism are complex and human - anger, fear, frustration, hatred, ignorance, hopelessness. Terrorism is not caused by machines. The fact that disenfranchised and malevolent people have access to better tools of communications is something we have to deal with. However, the tools belong to us as well. They allow the intelligence community to track and trace suspects at incredible speeds, they share information that leads to quick response to the greatest crises, and yes, they contribute tremendously to the human community which is our only chance for defeating the roots of terrorism in a complex, crowded world.

Certainly, there are hundreds of examples of how much the Internet has helped law enforcement, rescuers and the directly affected families in this time of crisis. We now see American citizens using the Internet to communicate to decision makers in unprecedented numbers as the country debates the nature of our response to this terrible act.

I was struck particularly with how the Internet was used within the teaching community. If you have participated on teacher newsgroups and listservs this week, you have been exposed to the best and the resources, lesson plans, expert advice on coping with grief, etc. An indication of how the Internet has come to serve and connect the teaching community could be found in the more informal e-mail communications and collaborations that spread across the country. Schools looking for ways they could raise money for victims were given sound advice and contact information by other schools; teachers needing to vent and cope with their own grief found forums and discussion partners; advice was traded on what to say and do in the classroom; messages of hope and prayer were passed along; resources on ethnic and religious tolerance were offered.

Just as the news media talked about the worldwide "community" that had risen from the smouldering ashes and the commercial run on flags across the country, our own educational network grew into a community online. Just as our worst fears of

the dangers of the Internet were realized and exploited, our greatest hopes also became reality -- we have learned how to make best use of this tool.

My point is not to extoll the virtues and wax poetic about the Internet's ability to change the world. We have to do that. Rather, my message is simpler. This moment of terrorism and crisis has proven what we already knew but were perhaps unwilling to acknowledge

the Internet is once and for all an integral part of our lives. It is here to stay. In its unprecedented ability to foster communications, it will be used for good and it will be used for destruction. But it will never go away.

In recognition, our responsibilities as educators lie in three directions:

- We must teach our children respect for this tool's power and responsibility;

- We must help them understand how to discern, evaluate and digest the many kinds of information that will bombard them throughout their lives.

- We must show them how to find and use the very best in resources, and to use responsibly their instantaneous access to global decisions and events; we must show them how the tools help them to participate in the world that grows more complex and unfamiliar all the time.

- We must set an example ourselves. We must use the Internet responsibly to access credible and vital information; we must communicate with integrity; and we must use it to reach out to help and learn from others.

If we turn our backs on the Internet as a tool too dangerous for children, it will become just that -- a wasteland fraught with misinformation, hatred and means of destruction. We must balance all that, making it also a tool of hope. Never has there been a better (or more scary) time to learn what the Internet has to offer our schools and our children. Never have we been in such need to learn about the world and people who are different than we are... to learn, in fact, more about ourselves.

The events on the east coast have galvanized our patriotism and our immediate sense of service to others. Now we must use all of our best resources to create a lasting community in this country and beyond our boundaries, one that will combat the greatest threats to the civilization to which we, as teachers, dedicate our lives. And those threats are hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and violence - in ourselves and in the world that comes ever closer.