Blog #199: Teacherrogers Celebrates a Decade of Blogging

Tag words from my blog
This tag word cloud is based on my blog posts from 2014.
History

I started Teacherrogers’ blog in the summer of 2010. It has served as my landing place, a cognitive airstrip of sorts, for sharing ideas and revisiting them often. In the past decade, my blog posts became more academic through my scholarly endeavors. In 2010, I was teaching English as a second language and developmental reading. Back then, my blogs addressed computer-assisted language learning, reading strategies, and online teaching. Nowadays, they address more general teaching and learning theories, instructional design, innovative educational technologies, and digital literacy. My most visited blog of all time was written in 2012, the Instructional Design of an Online Course.

Benefits

My blog has helped me synthesize what I’ve learned and experienced on the job, in my doctoral studies, and through action research. My blogs have also served as job aids for instructors that I support at work. As my readership has grown, I’d like to believe they have helped inform my readers. Teaching Tips is the most populated category. Based on site visits, I can tell which blogs are popular. I just wish more visitors would leave a comment, especially students who are reading my blog to help them with their homework. I’ve also benefited from critical comments, as I endeavor to adequately and appropriately cover topics. Please keep those comments coming!

Online Presence

In curating my online presence, I recently encountered Ghent University subscribed to a syndication of my blog through Newstex. Unfortunately, it doesn’t list me as the author.  Even worse, Newstex doesn’t have permission to syndicate my blog. I’ve contacted them informally through Twitter to no avail. The next step is to send them a polite email. As my technology manifesto states, as system information users, we should all be benevolent, evaluative, and vigilant of our online interactions.

I’m currently #47 in Feedspot’s Top Educational Technology blogs. There’s about 1K more subscribers to my blog through their RSS feed. If I used Facebook (FB), I might be reaching more readers, but I consider FB unsafe; Read my blog on that topic. If you’re interested in learning more about my online presence, visit my blog roll.

Future Goals

Even though maintaining this blog is time consuming, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. One of my new goals is to use my blog for the basis of a podcast. I’d love to hear from my readers on the topics that matter to them. What should I blog about for my 200th blog? Podcast ideas? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below or via Twitter @Teacherrogers. To my readers, a huge thank you!


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

Teacherrogers Products
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

The Challenges of Combating Online Fake News: A Review of ‘Dead Reckoning’

Embed from Getty Images

This article was originally posted on the AACE Review by Sandra Rogers.

The Data & Society Research Institute has produced and shared informative articles on the many facets of fake news producers, sharers, promoters, and denouncers of real news as part of their Media Manipulation Initiative. In Dead Reckoning (Caplan, Hanson, & Donovan, February 2018), the authors acknowledged that fake news is an ill-structured problem that’s difficult to define in its many disguises (e.g., hoaxes, conspiracy theories, supposed parody or satire, trolling, partisan biased content, hyper-partisan propaganda disguised as news, and state-sponsored propaganda). Nevertheless, they stated the critical need for it to be defined to produce a problem statement. Only in this way can a proper needs assessment and subsequent solutions be explored.

Based on their critical discourse analysis of information reviewed during their field research, they identified two descriptions for fake news, problematic content and the critique of mainstream media’s efforts to produce trustworthy news. [They reported how]… the denouncement of mainstream media as fake news serves to legitimatize alternative media sources. Beyond defining fake news, the authors seek parameters for what makes news real in their efforts to address information disorder.

Neither Man nor Machine Can Defeat Fake News

Kurzweil (1999) predicted that in the year 2029 humans will develop software that masters intelligence. However, the idea that cognition can be produced through computation has been refuted (Searle, 1980; McGinn, 2000). In Dead Reckoning, the authors addressed the problem of combating fake news as twofold; Artificial intelligence (AI) currently lacks the capability to detect subtleties, and news organizations are unable to provide the manpower to verify the vast proliferation of unmoderated global media. The problem is that once addressed, fake news producers circumvent the triage of security. Several efforts are underway in developing algorithms for machine learning such as PBS’ NewsTracker and Lopez-Brau and Uddenberg’s Open Mind.

Fake News Endangers Our Democracy & Leads to Global Cyberwars

The social media applications that have become part of the fabric of our society are used as propaganda tools by foreign and domestic entities. For example, prior to the 2016 Presidential election, Facebook’s ads and users’ news streams were inundated with fake news that generated more engagement from August to September than that of 19 major news agencies altogether (Buzz Feed News, 2016). The authors shared how concerned parties (e.g., news industry, platform corporations, civil organizations, and the government) have moved beyond whether fake news should be regulated to who will set standards and enforce regulations. “…without systemic oversight and auditing platform companies’ security practices, information warfare will surely intensify (Caplan, Hanson, & Donovan, p. 25, February 2018).”

The potential for fake news to reach Americans through digital news consumption from smartphone apps and text alerts compounds the issue. The Pew Research Center surveyed 2004 random Americans who consume digital news and found these habits based on two surveys per day for one week: 36% used online news sites, 35% used social media, 20% searched the Internet, 15% used email, 7% relied on family, and the remaining 9% was categorized as other (Mitchell, Gottfried, Shearer, & Lu, February 9, 2017).

Strategic Arbitration of Truth

Caplan, et al. state how organizations and AI developers approach defining fake news by type, features, and news signifiers of intent (e.g., characteristics of common fake news providers, common indications of fake news posts, and sharing patterns). For example, one common news signifier of fake news is the use of enticing terms such as ‘shocking.’ Digital intervention efforts include developing a taxonomy for verification of content, developing responsive corporate policy, banning accounts of fake news promoters, tightening verification process for posting and opening accounts, and informing users how to identify fake news. See the Public Data Lab’s Field Guide to Fake News and Other Information Disorders.

Caplan, et al. raise many unanswered questions in the struggle to defeat fake news. How can we arbitrate truth without giving more attention to fake news? Will Google’s AdSense allow users to control where their ads are placed? Can Facebook really reduce the influence of fake news promoters on their site all the time? Caplan, Hanson, and Donovan (2018) proposed these powerful strategies to combat fake news:

  • Trust and verify- By trust, they mean going beyond fact-checking, and content moderation, and incorporate interoperable mechanisms for digital content verification through collaborative projects with other news agencies;
  • Disrupt economic incentives- Stop the pay-per-click mill of online advertising without a say in the type of site it will appear in;
  • Online platform providers need to ban accounts or otherwise not feature content based on falsehoods, click-bait, or spam; and
  • Call for news regulation within the boundary of the First Amendment’s Good Samaritan provision.

For information on single-user technology and critical thinking skills to avoid fake news, visit my previous AACE Review blog on Navigating Post-truth Societies: Strategies, Resources and Technologies.

References 

Caplan, R., Hanson, L., & Donovan, J. (February 2018). Dead reckoning: Navigating content moderation after “fake news”. Retrieved from https://datasociety.net/output/dead-reckoning/ 

Kurzweil, R. (1999). The age of spiritual machines: When computers exceed human intelligence. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

McGinn, C. (2000). The mysterious flame: Conscious minds in a material world. Basic Books, 194.

Mitchell, A, Gottfried, J, Shearer, E, & Lu, K. (February 9, 2017). How Americans encounter, recall, and act upon digital news. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2017/02/09/how-americans-encounter-recall-and-act-upon-digital-news/

Searle, J. (1980). Minds, brains and programs. Behavioral and Brain Sciences3(3), 417–457. doi:10.1017/S0140525X00005756


P.S. Disinformation (aka fake news) means it was used with intent to deceive rather than unintentional misinformation.


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

Teacherrogers Products
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

Peace Corps’ Third Goal is a Charm

Two women sitting besides each other on a bench dressed in white embroidered dresses
Peace Corps Honduras 1985-1987

This article originally appeared in the Peace Corps Hotline on 5/15/2010. It has been updated to reflect my past decade of work/life.

The Peace Corps has remained on my mind now for 30 years, fresh as the memory of the first homemade, thick, warm, corn tortilla that I ate with crude salt or the first taste of green mango with hot sauce, lime, and (more) salt!  Looking back, I realize that I have been involved in various Third Goal activities both formally and informally since my volunteer service in Honduras from 1985-1987.  I guess you really never stop being a Peace Corps Volunteer! For those of you unfamiliar with the Peace Corps’ Third Goal, here are all three goals of service with this US government agency: (Peace Corps, N.D.)

To promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:
  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

My actual first Third Goal activity was while I was still serving in Honduras.  I submitted a quilt to the 25th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. The quilt was designed as a flag, with each stripe an arm, reaching out to help someone.  The arms got progressively shorter as the ‘collaboration’ was made with the receiver, and the last arm ‘shook’ the hand of the recipient. The design signified governmental agencies’ past efforts of distribution of goods and services, in contrast with the Peace Corps’ effort of working with host nationals to bring about change.

When I returned home from service, I asked that my family hold a reunion.  It was a great way for me to share my experience and give them all the gifts that I had brought back.  I didn’t’ realize it at the time, but I influenced one of my nieces to join the Peace Corps. Her name is Rachel (Rogers) Miller, and she served in Lesotho from 1999-2000. You really never know who you might persuade to serve, even at informal gatherings. In my case, I returned in 1987, and my niece volunteered 12 years later.

While pursuing my masters in teaching, I used a poem that I’d written about my Honduran neighbor, as part of a dance/spoken word performance I choreographed for the theater department.  If my Honduran neighbor only knew the profound impact she had on me with her small-framed presence, smoking her hand-rolled cigar, sitting quietly in her backyard among the banana tree fronds! It was such an honor, not only to participate as a choreographer but also to share my Peace Corps’ experience visually and orally with the university students.

After I became a teacher, I would share my Peace Corps’ photo album which included trinkets and a copy of Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” with my elementary students in Los Angeles. I’ve used it many times in the classroom. In addition, I shared my story with the whole school by organizing other returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) to collaborate on a display for career week. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) recruits former RPCVs for their bilingual skills, so at my school in East Los Angeles, there were three of us. The display case had photos and souvenirs from each of our countries of service. The students really enjoyed learning about their teachers’ work in the Peace Corps.

I’ve blogged about my PC experience on this WordPress site. I also attend Peace Corps informational events at my alma mater to answer questions and encourage others to join. Most importantly, I stay in touch with my fellow Honduran RPCVs not only to reminisce about the past but also because they became such good friends. PCVs become like a fraternity of friends because of the shared experiences and closeness that serving in a foreign country brings, especially during the hardships of second language learning and working in an underdeveloped country with norms very different than your own.

In closing, I don’t go around talking about the Peace Corps all the time.  Instead, I’ve embedded it into my life, work, and artistic endeavors.  As Shane Townsend (RPCV Bolivia 2003-05) said in a previous Hotline article, “The pursuit of the Third Goal is much like the Peace Corps’ experience itself; you’ll get far more out of it than you can imagine.” Part of that has been realizing that the third goal has been a charm for me. The Peace Corps is firmly a part of who I am even now.

References

Peace Corps. Retrieved from https://www.peacecorps.gov/about/


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

Teacherrogers Products
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

Call for Comprehensive Commonsense Gun Reform

American Flag

Let me begin by stating that I don’t have the answer for gun violence in America, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to understand the situation nor advocating on behalf of those who have lost their lives to it. This blog serves as a summary of the current gaps in legislation, school safety, consumer protection, and research. The purpose is to consider all factors causing the problem and then develop problem statements. Only by understanding the current situation fully, can we move forward with our objectives and (non)training solutions.

These ideas will, hopefully, help us to form a solid argument for gun reform because the current situation regarding gun legislation and gun use is a crisis out of control. Through revision from your feedback, and as I learn more details, I seek a plan of action based on commonsense gun laws. In my opinion, the current situation is riddled with inadequacies in regards to public safety due to lax and inconsistent laws.  Today, in honor of the #MarchForOurLives,  I advocate change for good and applaud those involved in making informed decisions about gun laws that aren’t based on political or financial gains.

School Safety

Here are some of the ideas being promoted that require proof of efficacy:

(A) Restrict entry to a single-point and require visitors to sign-in to limit access to nonstudents and nonpersonnel.

(B) Provide a sufficient number of resource officers and counselors in accordance with school size to address student and staff needs.

(C) Provide active shooter training and drills to prepare students and staff for such situations.

Gun Restrictions

There’s a critical need to reform gun laws. Here’s a list of proposed measures to reduce gun violence: 

(A) Raise the age restriction to 21 to purchase a rifle or shotgun in accordance with the existing federal laws regarding handgun purchases from a licensed dealer.  Additionally, handguns and rifles purchased from unlicensed dealers (e.g., neighbor, gun show seller, or online store) should have the same age restrictions.

(B) Require comprehensive background checks on nonlicensed buyers and enforce a centralized database to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, suspected terrorists on the no-fly list, the mentally ill, and other federally prohibited persons. A panel of gun violence experts cited these as effective means to curb gun violence (The New York Times)

(C) Require a waiting period to purchase a gun and to run a thorough federal background check. The purpose is to allow individuals a cooling-off period in the case of potential gun violence due to anger toward others or self. See the Giffords Law Center for the research basis for this. Some states have already legislated this.

(D) Reinstate the 1994 federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. This is supported by the American Public Health Association (APHA).  Gun violence experts also cited these as effective measures (The New York Times). See the House Judiciary Committee 2019 gun safety bill.

(E) Ban the sale of bump stocks that modify regular guns to perform as rapid-fire assault weapons.  The 2017 Las Vegas mass shooter had 12  rifles configured with bump stocks and was able to fire 90 shots in 10 seconds (The New York Times).  This should already be strictly enforced by the government as it bucks existing federal laws for machine guns (18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(23); 27 C.F.R. § 479.11). See also 26 U.S.C. § 5845(b).

(F) Ban online sales of ‘ghost guns’ sold as maker kits that bear no serial identification.

(G) Extreme risk protection from individuals who possess firearms and are acting erratic and may cause harm to self or others. See the House Judiciary Committee 2019 gun safety bill.

(H) Ban the sale of firearms to persons who have a misdemeanor for committing a hate crime. See the House Judiciary Committee 2019 gun safety bill.

Consumer Protection

The consumer is left unprotected in almost all aspects of gun sales. Congress should ensure unsafe guns are recalled through an oversight agency such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Our Consumer Product Safety Commission does not have jurisdiction over firearms and ammunition. Currently, unsafe guns are only recalled by manufacturers, not the government. Governmental oversight of unsafe guns was blocked by Rep. Dingell in 1972 and 1975 and has not been brought up for legislation since though many have tried (Bloomberg).

Gun manufacturers should be required to test guns to ensure they work properly. For example, according to the Bloomberg report, nine different Taurus guns may fire when bumped or dropped even with the safety on.

Gun sellers, as defined by the ATF,  should obtain a federal firearms license. Moreover, the ATF needs to provide sufficient oversight, as the US DOJ Report #1-2004-005 found negligence in their inspections of licensure.

Congress should allow the use of smart gun technology such as devices that scan the owner’s fingerprint before it can fire.  See President Obama’s memorandum based on the Department of Justice review (Federal Register), which reported its potential for reduction of accidental deaths by guns and use of stolen guns in criminal activities. Gun lobbyists kept Smith & Wesson from developing smart gun technologies through slander and a boycott of their products after President Clinton pushed the Gun Safety Agreement in 2000 with them. The American Public Health Association supports innovative technology to reduce gun violence and accidental shootings.

Research

Gun laws should be based on research and safe practices for society. Congress should lift current restrictions on federal funding for research into gun violence. For example, the CDC National Violent Death Reporting System needs support from all 50 states, U.S. territories, and D.C.

What other recommendations do you have?

Note: I’ve written 170 blogs on this WordPress site. This is the only political one. Commonsense gun reform is critical to the safety of everyday citizens.

Thank you to my followers!

Avatar sitting on a crescent moon
My avatar sitting on the moon in SecondLife.

With the new year, it’s time to reflect, plan, and show gratitude. Last year, my blog and Twitter accounts attracted more followers. Both now have 1K+ followers. It’s been a slow and steady increase, as I’ve engaged with educators worldwide since 2010 on Twitter, WordPress, and other social media tools. It’s not about quantity for me but quality. I want to thank you for your comments and positive responses!

New Academic Blog:  I invite you to read my guest blogs on the new AACE Review. AACE stands for the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education. I’ve been involved with this organization since 2014. They host several teacher/IT conferences such as the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE). My first blog was on grit and learning. This month, I’ve written one defining computer-assisted language learning (CALL) and sharing media selection criteria for CALL from researchers. For next month, I’m preparing interview questions for a CEO about a new speech recognition API.

Tech Tip:  As for new tips, I’m using Grammarly for the first time and loving the free version. I have the Chrome extension. The application checks your grammar and spelling in all writing situations including emails, blogs, and learning management systems. Grammarly sent me a report on my usage that was very insightful. This is a great way to check your past work, too. I work as an instructional designer at my College. No one generally checks my writing unless I ask, so I’m going through all of my online content. I’m doing the same for my personal blog and website! And yes, it would be a great tool for students to use.

Happy New Year!

Sandra Rogers

Thanks to all my followers!

Heart Tagxedo for blog post imageI wanted to celebrate the milestone of reaching 1000 followers on my blog! Thanks to all of you who subscribe to Teacherrogers’ blog on WordPress.  My first blog post was in 2010, but I didn’t really become active until 2011.  This will be post #139.  I also blogged for TESOL International Association during 2011-2012 on their website.  Additionally, I blogged for a workforce education nonprofit I spearheaded in 2007-2009.  Some of those blogs have been republished here.

As a subscriber or regular reader, you know that I strive to provide you with relevant information on instructional design, learning theories, integration of technology and social media into the learning environment, as well as specific information in my areas of interest (second language acquisition, gaming, and e-learning).  My blog posts also serve as an archive of my learning.  This provides me with a place to review and reflect.  I hope my blogs have provided you with the information you needed or, at the very least, an idea or link to follow up.

Thanks again for following me on this journey of social blogging!  Please join me in this celebration by leaving me a comment.

Gratefully,

Sandra Annette Rogers

Thanks and Happy New Year!

Cartoon headshot of blogger, Sandra Rogers

Dear Readers,

Thank you for all of your comments and re-sharing of my blog. I’m so humbled to have such a growing readership. I hope I have created some useful content for each of you. Let me know if you have a topic of interest that I might can blog about. I also renewed my Podbean podcast and hope to interview educators, instructional designers, game designers, and innovators on learning. Let me know if you’re interested!

Since my beginnings on this blog in 2011, I tried to make it practical. In 2015, I decided to transform my blog into a scholarly one as I near the end of my doctoral program of study. I’m slowly going back to previous posts to update them to include citations and more precise advice based on research.

In 2016, I will continue to blog at least once a week to share my learning with you. Blogging is my way of reviewing information to help me remember. It also helps me to synthesize information to share with the educators I work with now. Whenever I find myself explaining something verbally, I check to see if I have a blog on it to share as a follow-up. If I don’t, I write one. My blogs have become job aids!

This is the year that I start, and hopefully complete, my dissertation on gaming for second language acquisition. I will share more on this topic once I complete the proposal.

Happy New Year!

Sandra Annette Rogers

aka Teacherrogers