July 10, 2007
Scholars discuss how blogs, MySpace affect citizenship
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Blogs, MySpace.com, online role playing games and identify theft are just a few of the topics that will be discussed this month at the second James F. Ackerman Colloquium on Technology and Citizenship Education.
Two dozen scholars will attend the conference, Education for Citizenship in Digital and Synthetic Worlds: Privacy, Protection and Participation, on July 23-26. They will present research on how technology, especially the Internet, has changed the way citizens interact with each other and their government and the future of education. Space is limited for the general public, but anyone interested in attending sessions should contact Kathy Reppert at (765) 494-4755, firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Young people consume large amounts of information through various media outlets and simultaneously create and distribute their own messages via information and communication technologies," said Phillip VanFossen, the Ackerman Professor of Social Studies Education and director of the Ackerman Center. "In doing so, these digital natives are often exposed to violent, racist or other negative messages. Additionally, these digital citizens must navigate issues of information security, privacy and identity theft. Because efforts to control access to information and exposure to these risks are fraught with difficulties, the most effective way to safeguard students and young citizens is through education."
The conference's four themes are:
* The role of technology in the development of citizens' knowledge and skills in an increasingly digital and global world.
* The tension between the constitutional right to freedom of speech and the protection of young people online.
* Defining privacy in a digital age.
* The potential of social networking and massive multiplayer online role-playing games, also known as MMORPGs, for citizenship education.
David McDivitt, a teacher from Converse, Ind., will talk about how he uses a World War II online role-playing game in his high school history classes.
University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Kurt Squire, whose research focuses on the effect of digital gaming on education, will deliver the keynote speech. Squire has served as a research fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-director of the Education Arcade, a research and service project investigating the educational potential of digital gaming.
Edward Castronova, associate professor of telecommunications at Indiana University and author of "Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games," will discuss the growing interest in role-playing games, including a new game, "Arden," based on William Shakespeare.
Scott Ksander, executive director of information technology networks and security for Information Technology at Purdue, will speak on the importance of educating citizens about issues of privacy and information security.
"Education for such cybercitizenship is a natural extension of the citizenship education role the social studies have always played in school curricula," VanFossen said. "Lessons in cybercitizenship, for example, might address the problematic aspects of the Internet and enhance critical skills for managing these challenges. These lessons might also mean, however, extending the same sorts of skills needed by effective citizens to utilize the Internet."
The Ackerman Center was established through a gift in 1993 from James F. Ackerman, a Purdue alumnus, and his wife, Lois. The center also sponsors the Ackerman Center Summer Institute and co-sponsors, with the Krannert School of Management, the Purdue Series on Corporate Citizenship and Ethics. It also organizes a student program for the annual Greater Lafayette Holocaust Remembrance Conference and coordinates "We The People ... The Citizen and the Constitution" and Purdue's celebration of Constitution and Citizenship Day.