Magazine article Internet@Schools

Watching over Your Goggle with Jeff Patterson

Magazine article Internet@Schools

Watching over Your Goggle with Jeff Patterson

Article excerpt

AS the founder of Gaggle. Net, Inc., Jeff Patterson has led the company's technology team for the past 9 years and is wellversed in the intersection of media literacy and web security. He is also the creator of numerous educational software programs; his products include Sound Companion for HyperStudio, Lesson Plan Helper, The Reading Success for Kids series, Sound Effects and Music Loops for Multimedia, HyperStudio Project Resource Kit, and Sweet Digizine. He is also co-founder of Pixel Genius Entertainment, Inc. Here, lnternet@Schools sits down with Jeff and talks tech.

You've been involved in ed tech for a long time now and r have accomplished quite a bit for students and learning. What does "media literacy" mean to you? What is it, can you give an overview or a brief history of it from your perspective, and why is it so important now more than ever?


Jeff: Media literacy means how you interpret the information that you're getting-how you find it, how you interpret it- how you validate it. So from that standpoint, it's a very relevant topic. In a way, how you find it . . . that is no longer the challenge. That's the big change. When you're talking about the past, you're talking all about libraries and card catalogs. It was hard to find the information when I was a kid. Now, there's an abundance of information. It's hard to determine whether it's accurate information, authoritative information and then to interpret that information.

That said, then you combine the idea that our entertainment is really merged with media literacy. When you go to YouTube, is that entertainment? Or is that information that you're getting? When I go look up a drink recipe- and this might not be the best educational example- but when I go look up a drink recipe on YouTube, I'll find several different examples, and the one that I probably watch to the end is some guy who is kind of entertaining as he shows me how to mix the latest chocolate margarita. That would be how I would describe what media literacy is.

One of the challenges- we always struggle with this- is, what is really accurate information? What is the right information and the relevant information. Those are big challenges, and how to interpret what it means. So sometimes it can be a real challenge to look for.

For example, it's the new year, and I'm looking to lose a little bit of weight. I pulled out the old bathroom scale, and every time I get on it, within a 5-minute period, it will show a variance of 3 pounds, and it's just frustrating. So I've been Googling bathroom scales and accuracy, and I can find out all sorts of new scales to buy, but to find out why my bathroom scale doesn't work right is hard.

So to me, literacy is being able to find the right relevant information and interpret it; who's trying to sell me something, who has an agenda. Those are real challenges, even for us well-educated adults.

Considering children and the internet, even middle grade students and high schoolers and the internet - how is media literacy closely related to web security?


Jeff: Old-school web security was all about blocking students from getting to something bad. While I still think that's important and relevant, that's not where the real security concern is now. The real concern is still about preventing them from reaching bad things, but it's really about the appropriateness of the things they are doing.

It's one thing to prevent them from getting on a racy website, but it's even more important to prevent them from posting something inappropriate about themselves. I find that's a bigger and bigger issue, where students are texting sexy pictures of themselves or posting something to Facebook that's inappropriate that's going to haunt them later. I would define web security as personal security. I also think that bullying is a big issue, and how do we control the bullying, because the reality is that things that happen online have offline consequences. …

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