vendredi 30 août 2013

Big Brother in schools

I have just watched read the news and watched the video feed about a school that hired a private company to inspect "public" posts of the sutdents:

Of course, everything is done in the name of the students themselves and the major reason is security: bullying, suicidal thoughts etc. are mentioned as THE reason for school intervention and this programs existence. However, for 40 000$ a year could we do more? Could we do better?

I cannot really grasp and understand why we have come to this point. All I have are questions. My brain simply refuses to process such news. It looks like a tornado in my head jumping from one idea to the next. So here it comes:
What about going back to the basics: talking to the kids? How about investing this money to reduce the class size and ensure that the teachers really do have the time and the resources necessary to know their students and be able to intervene on  one to one personal manner well before administrative machine steps in?

What about the main purpose of the school: preparing free and critical agents of the change of our society? How can we teach a student anything about human rights and freedom when there is no freedom available? All posts are watched; students may get into trouble if anything is suspected. It is in no way a free school of thought!

From a technical point of view, I do not understand what public posts are we talking about. If users Facebook page is private and HTTPS encryption is used (as most students will do soon if they do not do it already) I do not see what there is to inspect? However, if the company uses a man in the middle attack and inspects all students posts on their path from a device to Facebook it is a different story.
That being said, I just wonder how many false positives will this technology generate. Does one ruined life (because of a simple technical mistake) is worth the risk? What is the threshold and when this technology is deemed effective or inefficient?

Many questions and no answers ... What do you think?

mardi 4 juin 2013

Multitasking - A myth?

Following is an ongoing research that I'm doing for myself. it is not indented as a literature review but could be a good starting point for a more formal research experiment. Some references I have found are blogs, others are peer reviewed research articles. Most were useful for a newcomer, like me, trying to understand basic principles.

You have probably heard of the most common assumption associated with the new generation of students: multitasking. "They are multitasking. They are good at it and they feel good about it." However, there is a large body of research that demonstrates that all humans(new or old generation) are alike and are quite bad at multitasking. That does not mean that the next generation will be as bad as we are, it just means that at the moment we are not that good and should know about it.

I'm always looking for research supporting one or the other point of view and based on neurology or at least applying some basic neurology principles that go beyond self-reported surveys.

Here are a few links (I will eventually transform all this into a full APA style reference list):