Monday, October 20, 2008

Paper never refused ink...

This week's readings brought to mind a phrase made familiar to me by my grandmother and mom throughout my childhood... paper never refused ink.  In teaching me to be an analytical thinker, they reminded me to examine what I read and hear, questioning its validity and integrity along the way.  Their lessons have taught me well; anything can be said or written, regardless of its accuracy.  We have seen this throughout our coursework in this program, as we marvel at the many ways that the same data may be manipulated to tell different versions of the truth.  
The articles assigned this week bring this notion to light in another arena.  As net generation students utilize the many facets of online access, they are often without pause to consider the integrity of the information they have gleaned, thus leaving themselves open to using inaccurate, possibly unchecked resources in their own research.  Further, they may be susceptible to unethical use of resources - albeit unintentionally - because they have not been adequately instructed on the appropriate use and citing of online material.  
Currently, standardization of such ethical practices does not exist.  As educational leaders, the responsibility of creating such standards and guiding our students both in their understanding and adherence of these guidelines rests upon our shoulders.  
Much like the two intelligent women in my own family guided me, it is up to us to direct the net generation toward online use and access that will benefit and protect them.  We shudder to think what might be when individuals trust what they read and see on the internet, knowing that their very safety may hang in the balance.  We watch as reputations are sullied by someone else's interjection of "facts" that change the impressions left on blogs, MySpace, and other personal accounts.  
It is necessary for us to instruct our students regarding the nuances of online access in order to encourage their critical thinking skills and ethics.  It is also essential that we guide them regarding matters related to their safety.  
The words of my mom and grandmother ring loudly as we can consider the experience of Joe the Plumber this past week...   

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