Monday, August 20, 2007

Virtual Playground - again

I have said this before on another post and actually was slammed because I said I understood it might cost. Sorry, I don't have the skill, the knowledge, or the time to create what I'm about to talk about. Wes Fryer mentioned it on his blog recently. And after today's training, I just don't see how we're going to get around it.
Currently I am doing a workshop on Integration of netTrekker with other tools and in the classroom. We were going to use PBWiki, but it's blocked. We can get to WikiSpaces though. Hmmm. We can't get to Twitter or Email or, but I can get to my blog here on Blogspot. It just blocks out the toolbar up top. I couldn't get to Bubble-Share or SlideShare. We were suppose to do a Google Trek - but the teachers won't have access to Google Earth. Going to change the lesson using Google Maps instead. They loved ToonDoo, and they created some cute toons (here's mine), but they also found some disturbing toons - one specifically relating to the Virginia Tech Shooting. I couldn't even get to my website because it's uploaded to my .Mac account.
I truly understand the reason for filters and for being blocked. I don't blame the schools one bit. We need to educate the students and yet, we still need to protect them. Yes - we need to teach the ethical use of the tools and encourage them to only do what they are suppose to do, but come'on! They are kids and they are going to test the limit and see what they can get away with.
Instead, we need a playground of Web2.0 tools that students can share photos from class field trips of historic or scientific sites, blog about the latest book they read or about their current event (which makes more sense than cutting out an article and bringing it to class), post their videos that they created about any given educational topic, collaborate with others, create and share and not worry about WHY it's being filtered from the system. If we had something in place - maybe with ads that were geared towards the textbooks or other popular sites to support it or as a paid subscription, then I think it will work. I want a safe alternative that a school can use without fear of what might pop up. I want teachers to be able to teach and not to add another item to their juggling act. Yeah, some of you might be able to use these tools- but you're probably one of the fortunate ones who have leaders with an understanding of technology integration/use and somehow are just ahead of the game of everyone else.
So I decided this week while I'm in Texas and when I get back to Florida, I'm going to play the lottery. I don't usually - but I'm going to. And if I win - I want to hire educators who are really good at technology use and integration to help design this playground for the students of web 2.0 (and just creative) tools. I'll fund it - you build it. Deal?
Now what numbers should I play?


Tom Turner said...

As I told you in IM Danielle....go with LUCKY 13 ALL THE WAY!!!

Now for the blocked access sites. I've ALWAYS stated that we live in a litigious society. This causes our district level personnel to be reactionary rather than visionary. Time and time again.

rajendran said...


This is Rajendran from ToonDoo.

First of all, thanks for trying ToonDoo along with your students. We feel really encouraged. :)

Coming to the content, yes! We do understand your concern. We are very keen in arriving at a solution, that can address this problem ourselves.

Remember, I am a Dad ( myself first!

As of now, we are manually tracking and marking all the toons that we consider obscene, violent and crude as 'inappropriate'. We also encourage users to help us in this process by notifying us of any toons they consider 'inappropriate'. Basically trusting in and tapping the wisdom of the crowds. This in addition to the safe search - on / off option in the user profile page, takes care of the content filtration process to some extent.

At the same time, more often than not, when it comes to categorizing content into 'safe' and 'unsafe', we do face some grey areas. For example, let's take the same example of Virginia School Fire toon that you have quoted in your post. While we consider that toon as an expression of fact, a reality that happened in some part of the world, a must-know information, a few of our users, feel that it is a disturbing content and may not be suitable for children. We do get stuck at such mixed responses.

We are aware that what we are offering currently is not a 'sound' solution but we are confident that we would be able to come out with one very soon. Until such time we request you to bear with us and continue to visit and explore toondoo with your students.

And, finally, let me close with a note about our parentage. ToonDoo was born as a small experiment from the guys at Jambav - a team dedicated to building unique tools and games for children of all abilities and ages. Our beliefs are firmly rooted in meaningful entertainment and clean fun mixed with education. We will never forget that, you can trust us on that!

Thanks and looking forward o your support,

Toondude from

Karen said...

Hey Danielle,

Yours is a real concern with a real solution. I would like to be part of the Web 2.0 playground. We can do it girl! It doesn't need the lottery, just your creativity, energy and my channeling of your energy!

Web 2.0 Playground. Hmmmmmm..


Karen said...

What happened to your pretty background?


Michele Futch said...

I had my middle schoolers (6th grade) summarize a story last year by creating toons on ToonDoo. They loved it!

Here's what I did that didn't create any problems. I created an account under my name and logged them in under my name. I put their name or initials as Editor of the cartoon. Also, I had the blank pages ready for them. This didn't allow them time to search around and waste time. They got right to work and created from there. We didn't look around. I printed them their pages to take home and posted copies up around the room. Also, I stood there supervising the entire time.

However, in different situations, or with a different age of students, this may not work as well?