Civic Education and Media Literacy The link between civic education and informed participation in a democratic society is undeniable. Active involvement proceeds from robust civic education and is shaped by news and information, which is increasingly mediated by technology. Thus, media literacy plays an important role in how students and adults access and understand news and information as well as how civic education is taught both formally and informally. Current school reform initiatives, such as the Common Core State Standards, do not address the current decline in civic education. It is not controversial to suggest that civic education and media literacy are means of advancing the wellbeing of a democratic society. However, wishful thinking will not achieve that end. It falls to thoughtful educators, policy makers, and concerned citizens to act as advocates for improvement of teaching and learning in these fields.
Internet neutrality—commonly known as “net neutrality”—refers to the principle of maintaining equality of access and treatment of data on the Internet. In 2010 the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established rules regarding net neutrality in an Open Internet Order. A January 2014 District of Columbia District Court ruling struck down the 2010 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY FCC net neutrality rules. A new FCC proposal (FCC 14-61), currently under consideration, attempts to strike a balance between net neutrality and the use of fast and slow lanes in “commercially reasonable” circumstances. However, if such preferential treatment were deemed to be “commercially reasonable,” ISPs would be able effectively to control online innovation through the use of discriminatory pricing. The Open Internet Order articulated the belief that the Internet was, and should remain, a “level playing field,” free of corporate gatekeepers. Net neutrality, reiterated in any new FCC rules, is essential.
AECT advocates that school districts engage in a process of transforming themselves from standardized, time-based, teaching-centered instruction to customized, attainment-based, learning-centered instruction. This transformation should utilize technology extensively throughout school operations, particularly in instructional settings.
Districts and stakeholders are familiar with the piecemeal changes, often legislated, that can be characterized by two or three word slogans: class size, standardized testing, setting standards, professional development, mobile devices, and others. Few instances of systemic change can be found. Systemic change requires a major redesign of the core processes of schooling to meet the demands of tomorrow. Throughout history, all kinds of organizations have undergone periods of systemic change – usually in response to big changes in their environment – followed by periods of piecemeal change.
The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) is aimed at standardizing regulations that states apply to colleges and universities that seek to offer online or distance-learning courses to their students. The United States’ four regional higher education compacts and other higher education associations developed rules to allow institutions to offer online courses within their state and to offer programs in other states. The cost of belonging to the council should reduce institutional costs associated with achieving reciprocity case by case. Institutional fees also will provide the income for NC-SARA, which was established using grant funding. The promulgation of online learning standards may help to ensure that courses meet acceptable minimal expectations; however, standardization may force simplistic approaches to topics or issues better served by innovation, complexity, and flexibility. SARA effectively limits individual institutional control over onli
Pearson, the testing giant that deems itself “the world’s leading learning company,” published a report titled, “Impacts of the Digital Ocean on Education,” in February 2014. The report suggests, “As technology facilitates movement toward collecting information from more natural interactions, the social nature of everyday lives will become apparent in the data collected.” Critics are concerned not only about the reconceptualization of learning such a movement might spur but also the privacy rights that might be compromised in its pursuit.
In the same month, the U.S. Department of Education issued a 14-page advisory titled, “Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices.” The document provides advice conditioned by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), and other relevant data-security measures.