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Bill Gillies - Editor

Online gaming more than just fun

As I discussed two weeks ago, the U.S. ranks 19th in the world when it comes to Internet download speed.  The fastest country is South Korea.  We need to do better. The Obama administration’s applaudable goal is to have broadband in every home, school and workplace.  So last month the Federal Communications Commission raised an interesting point by asking: Just what is “broadband?”

As reported on, the computer gaming industry is not pleased with the response that AT&T filed with the FCC.  It suggested that online games should be relegated to the category of being nice but not essential. “For Americans who today have no terrestrial broadband service at all,” AT&T wrote the Commission, “the pressing concern is not the ability to engage in real-time, two-way gaming, but obtaining meaningful access to the Internet’s resources and to reliable email communications and other basic tools that most of…

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17 Comments | Tags: World

Bill Gillies - Editor

Controversy surrounds Obama’s speech to students

As a sign of our partisan times, Google News shows more than 5,000 articles have recently appeared concerning the suddenly controversial speech President Barack Obama is giving next Tuesday to students across America.  Many conservative pundits and parents have decried the speech, saying Obama will use the occasion to promote his “socialist agenda.”

The speech text will be posted online at the day before the President speaks to students at a Virginia high school.

According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Obama will discuss the importance of education as the new school year begins. “The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents, and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible, so they can compete in the global economy for…

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14 Comments | Tags: Government, School/College

Bill Gillies - Editor

Teens swap portable Playstations for cell phones as they get older

Teenagers have previously lagged behind adults in their ownership of cell phones, but several years of survey data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that those ages 12-17 are closing the gap in cell phone ownership. The Project first began surveying teenagers about their mobile phones in its 2004 Teens and Parents project when a survey showed that 45% of teens had a cell phone. Since that time, mobile phone use has climbed steadily among teens ages 12 to 17 – to 63% in fall of 2006 and then to 71% in early 2008.

As can be seen on the chart, older teens are much more likely to have a cell phone than younger teens.  But that doesn’t mean young teens aren’t connected to their friends. Phones aren’t the only mobile device teens use to connect them…

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13 Comments | Tags: Family

Bill Gillies - Editor

Almost everybody wants a faster Internet asap

The federal government’s plan to promote expansion of the country’s high-speed Internet network has been swamped with applications totaling nearly $28 billion – seven times the $4 billion allocated to the program’s first round of spending.

Applications came in from a diverse range of parties including  state,  local, and tribal governments; nonprofits; industry; anchor institutions, such as libraries, universities, community colleges, and hospitals; public safety organizations; and other entities in rural, suburban, and urban areas. The wide array of applicants illustrates how greater bandwidth benefits virtually every aspect of society.

The urgency of bulking up the nation’s Internet infrastructure was underscored by a report released last week by the Communications Workers of America (CWA). It revealed that the United States ranks 28th in the world in average Internet connection speed and is not making significant progress in building a faster network.

The report said the average download speed in South…

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7 Comments | Tags: Government, Work

Bill Gillies - Editor

Graphic texting while driving video goes viral

Click on the video screen above to see a CBS report about a British video targeted at young drivers that uses a graphic car-crash re-enactment to draw attention to the potentially deadly consequences of texting while driving.

The video was made by the police department in Gwent, Wales, last summer for $20,000 has gone viral online, with more than 1.5 million people viewing the video on YouTube.

“Yes it is violent, but the reality of a fatal road accident is much more gruesome, is much more violent,” writer-director Peter Watkins Hughes told CBS News. “My position on this is that if you are old enough to drive, if you are old enough to want to drive, you are old enough to be aware of the real and serious risks one places yourself in every time you get…

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8 Comments | Tags: Family, Government

Bill Gillies - Editor

Sen. Edward Kennedy was longtime champion of higher education

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a lifelong champion of equal rights and educational opportunity, died late Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass. He was 77.

The Chronicle of Higher Education published today an obituary, written by Kelly Field, that recounts the Senator’s tireless efforts to improve higher education.

Mr. Kennedy, who represented Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate for more than four decades, had a hand in the creation of nearly every major federal student-aid program, from Pell Grants in 1972 to the Academic Competitiveness and Smart Grants for high-achieving, low-income students in 2006. In the 1990s, he was a chief architect of the federal direct-loan program, in which the government lends money directly to students through their colleges, and one of its staunchest supporters in the Senate.

Senator Kennedy was also one of the most reliable defenders of student aid,…

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10 Comments | Tags: Government, School/College

Bill Gillies - Editor

U.S. students lag behind peers in other countries

Education Secretary Arne Duncan responded earlier this week to a new report that documents the poor showing of American students relative to the students of other countries. In math, America’s 15-year-olds’ scores now lag behind those of 31countries. In science, eighth graders’ scores now lag behind their peers in eight countries, and in reading, five countries have improved their performance and surpassed the U.S.’s 4th graders.

Today’s report is another wake-up call that our students are treading the waters of academic achievement while other countries’ students are swimming faster and farther. Our students have stagnated educationally, putting our long-term economic security at risk…

These results show that for us to stay competitive and move forward we have to get our students ready for global competition. That’s why I so strongly support the work of our governors and chief state school officers to develop a set of common internationally-benchmarked, college and career-ready standards…

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6 Comments | Tags: Government, School/College

Bill Gillies - Editor

Teenager builds electric car to fight global warming

Jenn Savedge has a blog on the Mother Nature Network and today she posted her interview with Alaskan teenager Bart Grabman, who has converted an old Volkswagen Super Beetle to run on electricity.  Grabman is a high-school student and avid skier, and worries about global warming.  He says the declining snow levels he is witnessing first-hand in the northern state motivated him to build the eco-sensitive car.  The vehicle is not yet finished, but he has taken it out for test drives in front of his house.  It’s a good example of the Net Generation’s desire to innovate.

Bart Grabman's electric Volkswagen Super Beetle

Bart Grabman’s electric Volkswagen Super Beetle

Some excerpts from the interview:

Mother Nature Network: What inspired you to build an electric car?

Grabman: I was taking a class at school called Passages, and the purpose of…

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21 Comments | Tags: Family, School/College

Bill Gillies - Editor

Internet’s benefits far outweigh potential drawbacks

I posted yesterday about the national poll released by Common Sense Media that looked at some of the potentially negative aspects of teenage online behavior.  But on the whole, of course, the possible drawbacks pale in comparison to the Internet’s enormous benefits, such as helping teens support charities, volunteer, be creative, and improve their academic performance.  To wit:

-   54% have joined an online community or a “group” on Facebook or MySpace in support of a cause
-   53% post online creative writing or artwork that they’ve created.
-   50% post or share videos or music that they’ve created
-   45% organize or invite people to an event using a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace
-   34% volunteer for a campaign, nonprofit organization, or charity
-   26% participate in online study groups

Parents and children agree that the Internet is helping their academic performance.

-   75% of parents say the…

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13 Comments | Tags: Family, School/College

Bill Gillies - Editor

Parents underestimate teenagers’ online activity

Common Sense Media has released a national poll of teens and parents on social networking behaviors that confirms teenagers continue to find social media sites compelling and that parents may not be fully aware of what their offspring are doing online.

Highlights of the poll’s key findings include:

-    22% of…

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13 Comments | Tags: Family

Bill Gillies - Editor

Young adults leaders in viewing online video

According to a new report from the always informative Pew Internet & American Life Project, the audience for online video sharing sites like YouTube and Google Video continues to grow swiftly across all demographic groups, far outpacing the adoption rates of many other internet activities. Biggest users: Young adults. Their use is near universal and much higher than older age groups; nine in ten (89%) internet users ages 18-29 now say they watch content on video sharing sites, and 36% do so on a typical day. (see chart) Fully 62% of adult internet users have watched a video on these sites, up from just 33% who reported this in December 2006.

The use of video sharing sites currently outranks many other headline-snatching internet pastimes among American adults. Watching online videos on sites like YouTube is more prevalent than the…

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6 Comments | Tags: World

Bill Gillies - Editor

Why students need a T-shaped set of skills

I posted yesterday about the release of IBM’s Smarter Planet University Jam report.  Because three-quarters of the Jam participants were students, and skills and education is something they can relate to, this topic proved to be the most active.  The highlights from the report are reprinted below. Readers of Grown Up Digital will recognize many of the arguments from the book as to why today’s education system is failing and why it must be more student-focused.

1. Success in the services-based global economy requires academia, government and industry to work together to create “T-shaped” people. T-shaped people are those who have deep knowledge in one discipline and broader knowledge in others. These people were identified as possessing the types of skills industry will most likely employ. But the methods used to develop those skills in academia today lack the needed…

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16 Comments | Tags: Government, School/College, Work, World

Bill Gillies - Editor

University jammers foresee an intelligent, interconnected planet

A new report released yesterday shows that eight of 10 students around the world want universities to revamp traditional learning environments while over 90 percent want to join or start a Green Advocacy group at their campus. 64 percent of students believe that the world has a chance to reverse carbon emissions by 2025, and 60 percent believe that education and efficient transportation offer the best hope for sustainability of our cities.

These are just a few of the findings of a remarkable crowdsourcing process held earlier this year by IBM called the Smarter Planet University Jam. Nearly 2,000 students, faculty, IBM business leaders, technologists, governmental officials, and industry partners from 40 countries around the globe took part in the Jam and demonstrated both enthusiasm and optimism about opportunities to work together.

A team of Jam hosts, facilitators, and subject matter…

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3 Comments | Tags: Government, School/College, World

Bill Gillies - Editor

Reverse mentoring delivers solid value to both parties

Tavia Grant wrote a good piece in the Toronto-based Globe and Mail about the growing practice of reverse mentoring. “Traditional mentoring usually involves an older employee helping to guide a junior colleague. Now, an accelerating trend is flipping that relationship. Reverse mentoring is a radical shift in power dynamics, a response to how fast technology is changing, and what a younger generation of workers has to offer.”

With reverse mentoring, the older employees turn to younger, tech-savvy employees for insights about new tools such as Facebook and YouTube, since invariably the younger employee is more comfortable with the technologies.  The relationship also gives the older employee into the thoughts and values of today’s Net Generation.

In the article, Grant discusses the relationship between mentor Matthew Dobbin, 26, who is a consultant with Accenture Canada.  The mentee is managing partner Rodney Bergman, age 43.

Here’s how the younger Dobbin feels he…

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4 Comments | Tags: Work

Bill Gillies - Editor

Wedding entrance captures five of eight norms

If you haven’t seen the wedding entrance dance on YouTube by the couple from St Paul, Minnesota, then click on the link here and prepare yourself for a big treat. The five-minute video clip shows the pair dancing energetically towards the altar, preceded by their ushers, bridesmaids and groomsmen.  It’s all done to the tune of Chris Brown’s song Forever.  The video has gone viral. Posted less than two weeks ago, it has already been viewed more than 8.5 million times.

The bride, Jill Peterson, and groom, Kevin Heinz, are both 28, which puts them on the leading edge of the Net Generation.

The creative entrance captures five of the Net Generation’s eight norms.  The couple felt the Freedom to be creative and not constrained by tradition.  The entrance was Customized just the way they wanted it.  They Collaborated with others in the wedding party. It provided huge Entertainment for them…

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1 Comment | Tags: Family


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