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Great first session. It seems that everyone is figuring out how the class works and how to get the work done. There have been surprisingly few questions, especially when this is your first distance learning course for many students. Please ask if you have questions. Others probably have the same question.

The discussions got off to a great start. Lots of good and thoughtful posts. I do award additional discussion points for posting early and for “good” discussion questions that prompt interest from the rest of the class in the form of multiple replies. If you post at the deadline, there won’t be much interest in replying your your great questions. For the research posts, there are points for the link and for your description of your selections. Please include why you selected this one, and how it applies to the course and your personal interests.

I have provided some feedback to each of you in the “I think…” assignment notes as well as made some comments in the discussions. There have been many good observations and questions and we will be looking at these in depth in the coming topics. Here are some highlights from the Introductions.

The Brain Color quiz provides students with the opportunity to think about how they interact with others and information. In an online class, these are very different than in a classroom or lecture course. Interesting people activity provides many students with a new understanding of the diversity of online information about a subject they know well – their own name. It highlights researching, access to personal information, the global nature of the internet and an introduction to many of the topics associated with computers and society. A few students found references to themselves that they were not aware of. Besides, it is kind of fun.

“Google opened a whole world of resources to everyone.” But Google is just the latest in a long history of search and retrieval functions – GOfer, Lycos, AltaVista, Excite, ASK Jeeves, Yahoo just to name a few of 100s of others in English and other languages – all were huge “game changers” in searching and growing the usefulness of the internet. Just a reminder that something “better” comes along sooner or later, and everyone forgets about the past greats. Even though there is already an industry giant, there is always going to be the next big thing to surpass the previous one.

There is much to consider in the observation that “we are so used to retrieving information promptly, we’ve forgotten what it’s like to have patience. Books and libraries have the similar pros and cons but they are physically tangible.” I have been to a museum that had books written in the 800s. Will there be anything like that 1000+ years in the future?

There were several interesting observations about plagiarism and copyright. Academic integrity and making copies of movies and music are well publicized, but there isn’t much attention on businesses. On the other hand it is important to build on the work of others. There is a fine line here. We will be looking at these issues in a future topic.

Comparing the information in a single copy of the New York Times with what a person learned in a lifetime in the past needs elaboration. Just ask a farmer or a firefighter or a parent. Not much useful information in the NYT on any of these. It is really important to think beyond the dramatic statements like this – does this really make sense? There are those who believe that the internet is making us dumber but is that true? Probably not, but lets’ talk…

Many of you picked up on one of the points in the video that is a problem with short media like this. The video on Education and the Future of Technology talks about how kids in the United States are far behind the kids living in India, and that India has more honor kids than the United States has kids. The background links are provided if you want to understand what this means in context provided by the source. Spend five more minutes and verify the information. There are some good points here, but not exactly what comes across in this factoid.

“When a user wants to contribute or participate with connected online communities the user can do so by accessing sites linking them to the networks where the communities are.” The idea that computers and the internet can be used for connection and sharing is really interesting. The internet is more than just a place to find information. We will be looking at communities, connections, cooperation and collaboration in considerable detail.

There were lots of general observations and questions, too. “Technology is improving so fast that it does not seem like society can keep up with it. What will it be like for me 50 years from now?” In six weeks we won’t know the answers but we will have a better understanding of the issues and more information about what to look out for.

There are lots of good resources and informative conversations going on all the time. Log in frequently and participate. That’s the best way to stay current in a very busy 6-week summer class.

If you have questions about the course or the online tools, please ask. Have a great week. Log in frequently. Spread the work out over the week to allow for meaningful discussions and time to enjoy the course.

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