A Gullible Population Is a National Security Issue

A Global Search for Education Reflection

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

The hair on my arm prickled up like porcupine quills, but there was no breeze. It was a discussion about a digital literacy issue at the U.S. Army War College National Security Seminar that caused this response. Suddenly, information literacy became real — and urgent.

Information Literacy russian ads

A Note from Vicki: This post is in response to Cathy Rubin’s Global Search for education where she asks about the literacy skills required for a new world. The ads shown are publicly available here from the US Congress.

While this blog is based on verifiable data, some readers may be unhappy with my interpretation. In the spirit of academic discourse, I encourage those readers to use my ideas as a starting point for discussion rather than viewing the blog as a gesture of provocation.

Please note:

1) Information literacy skills are not new
2) There is a sinister side to information literacy that has largely been ignored in education – these ads are inflammatory and were intended to be by those nefarious organizations who created them and do not represent my own views
3) While some may wish to argue whether the Russian government “meddled” in US elections in favor of one candidate or another, the bottom line is that the public was easily meddle-able. The illegitimate, fictional organizations and profiles creating this content were never outed or recognized as such by anyone, neither Facebook who let them spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the ads nor the people who reshared their content and never stopped to ask whose content they were sharing figured out these were false.

We must give pause to understand how citizens can become savvy purveyors of accurate information so that hoaxes like not friending Jayden K Smith and the  countless missing children Facebook posts that travel unhindered for years after children have been found can cease. Social media has not shown an ability to “self correct” perhaps because by its very nature, the responses can only be positive and thus, there is no self-correcting mechanism built into its algorithm.

For the curious, one requirement for attending the Army War College National Security Seminar is “non-attribution.” This means I can say, “I learned this at the War College.” I cannot, however, quote any individual. For what I want to discuss here, I don’t need to quote anyone. The facts themselves are powerful enough. When I dug into them, this information is publicly available although not being widely discussed.

I challenge you to look for yourself and open conversations about where we failed as a public on social media and why we didn’t realize the fires were being stoked by those with anti-US sentiments. Now is the time for all of us to become savvy investigators. Let’s dig in.

We were discussing the recent release of over 3,500 Facebook and Instagram ads of the nearly “80,000 posts on Facebook that 126 million people may have seen.” (David Sanger – The Perfect Weapon, location 4240)

These aren’t regular Facebook and Instagram ads. They were ones created by organizations that the US Congress says have been tied to the Russian government starting in 2015.

Now, whether or not you agree with the conclusions of candidate favoritism, as we dig in, I think we can certainly agree these ads are designed to sow discord.

For those upset about a foreign entity meddling in U.S. elections, take a look at David Sanger’s new book The Perfect Weapon, released June 18. He asserts that the Chinese hacked the both the Obama and McCain campaigns in the 2008 election cycle. (location 520) Cyber-terrorism is the new area of warfare that few discuss but many fear. But now, Sanger talks about what some in the military call “weaponized social media”,

“Such “dialed down” cyberweapons are now used by nations every day, not to destroy an adversary but rather to frustrate it, slow it, undermine its institutions, and leave its citizens angry or confused. And the weapons are almost always employed just below the threshold that would lead to retaliation.” (emphasis mine)

For purposes of this conversation, however, let’s focus on the discord. As Americans, we are the angry and confused citizens – mostly angry at one another and confused at the divisiveness everywhere we look. Where is the country that disagrees and works together for a common solution?

Simply put, we had a non-U.S. entity posing as U.S. citizens and organizations. Disturbingly, a seemingly non-fact-checking American public became a discord-causing propaganda machine for Russian-affiliated organizations. Far too many Americans completely fell for it.

Some of you still don’t believe it. So, let’s dig in.

A Few of the Ads Traced Back to Russian Organizations

For example, the information released by Congress seems to show that the Russians were eager to fund discord, putting money into everything from anti-police brutality ads, Black Lives Matter messages, pro- and anti-immigration calls to action, and agitating against and for the removal of Confederate monuments.

Perhaps this strategy can best be seen in the February 2016 controversy over Beyonce’s support of Black Lives Matter. Shortly after her Super Bowl appearance, two such advertisements created by the Internet Agency were run on Instagram (as shown below from the Wired Article on this topic).

One ad announces an anti-Beyonce protest rally, and the other a pro-Beyonce protest rally. The date, time, and location shown are the SAME for both. The accounts and organizations promoting these events depicted themselves as Americans. The goal here was to sow chaos at NFL headquarters over this topic.

beyonce Russia ads

These ads were released by the US Congress as being traced back to Russian origin, although they were liked and reshared by many Americans on social media. Source: Wired

When talking about the 3,500+ ads, Wired Magazine says,

“What made these ads so deceptive is they rarely looked like traditional political ads. Often, they don’t mention a candidate or the election at all. Instead, theytear at the parts of the American social fabric that are already worn thin, stoking outrage about police brutality or the removal of Confederate statues.”

Fictitious Events, Real People Showing Up

So, a non-U.S. organization was creating fictitious events for both sides of an issue in the same location.

Why did real U.S. citizens show up, then?

Perhaps it is because we’re really upset (on both sides) by many of these topics. No one stopped to research who “mericanfury” or “sincerely_black”, the entities that posted these ads shown above, actually were.

In another example, who has taken the time to consider that much controversy over immigration may have been stoked by the perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into mobilizing and angering supporters and opponents of U.S. immigration policies?

Below are some of the ads that you may have seen on social media that were released as being traced back to Russian origin. Facebook has not notified us that we’ve seen this content and if they did, who can un-see and unlearn false information, specially when it plays to our previously held bias.

Anti and Pro-Immigration Ads of Russian Origin (reshared widely)

Anti-Confederate Statue Ads using a Black Lives Matter-seeming Name (but of Russian Origin)


A Confederate Monument Supporting Ad (of Russian Origin)


So, how does all this fit with information literacy?

As we discussed this topic at the War College, many of us agreed that information literacy is a massive national security issue. 

A gullible public is a danger to its country. If those citizens blindly share unvetted information, intentionally ignore the facts, refuse to correct themselves when they realize they are mistaken, and report things as truth because they “hate” the other side, well, that country is in trouble.

Who stopped to ask who was planning the rallies? Or did people just say, “I wish I’d thought of that,” and pass it on?

Who stopped to understand the organizations that appeared to be sponsoring the ads?

And can people step away from their hatred for “the other side” long enough to lock arms with their fellow citizens and unite as a country? I’m not so sure that the word “united” in our name, the United States of America, is exactly true right now.

As I was sharing these concerns at this week’s ISTE Conference in Chicago, an educator told me that she had adopted a philosophy she’d learned from her college professor. He told his students that if he was doing his job, they wouldn’t know which political party he supported, but they would discuss both sides of an issue with civility, respect, and open-mindedness.

Whether a teacher hides their political affiliation or not, are they able to respect and promote civil discourse on topics of national interest? And if teachers cannot, how can the general public?

The National Security Literacies that Should Concern Every Country

The new literacies that we need are actually, in some cases, what we should already be teaching:

  • We must be literate on how to conduct civil discourse.
  • We must be literate on how to verify information BEFORE sharing it.
  • We must be literate (and humble) enough to correct ourselves when we realize a mistake AFTER we’ve shared something that is untrue.

An undeceivable populace is a shield of protection in the grey-zone warfare that’s emerging in cyberspace.

However, a gullible, illiterate public is not only a vulnerability, but a country that’s divided enough is no longer civil when disagreement becomes civil war.

Information literacy is no longer just a nice-to-have literacy. It’s required for stability and civil discourse within any modern country. We don’t have to agree about everything with our fellow citizens, but we should learn how to disagree, and we should realize that our common enemy can easily make us enemies of one another and let us do their dirty work. 

I recall an old quote from Batman, the Dark Night

“Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

And with this “weaponized social media” unwitting citizens are being deceived each day to spread discord, disunity, and disinformation. We’ve become our own match.

I am very worried. As I try to bring up these issues, I get attacked from “both sides.” I don’t know what else to do but blog about it. Blogging is the best way I know for appealing to people with a wakeup call for awareness and literacy before we’re destroyed by our own ignorance. I refuse to become partisan on this issue but admit that I am decidedly pro-American in my writing of this article.

Abraham Lincoln said in his Lyceum address,

“”Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.””

What good is our military if they surround a house and the children are in the house chasing each other with hatchets?

“We must all, indeed, hang together, or, most assuredly, we will all hang separately,” said Benjamin Franklin.

I hope that this spurs a conversation about how we can hang together in learning, seeking the truth, and promoting civil discourse while celebrating the freedoms that we so cherish.

I hope that you’ll look NOT take what I’ve said at face value. Look at the ads yourselves and have discussions about what an undeceivable un-meddle-able social media public looks like.

There are many ways to teach this topic, but I think perhaps, first, we all need to educate ourselves.

Social media is social but it’s also serious.

Additional Readings

The first and best book is David Sanger’s new book The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age,  it covers far more than just this issue, but will help the reader understand the extent of cyberwarfare.

Esin, J. O. (2017). System Overview of Cyber-Technology in a Digitally Connected Global Society. AuthorHouse.

Gleason, B., & von Gillern, S. (2018). Digital Citizenship with Social Media: Participatory Practices of Teaching and Learning in Secondary Education. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 21(1), 200-212.

Hügel, S., Kreowski, H. J., & Meyer-Ebrecht, D. (2017). Cyberwar and Cyberpeace. Handbook of Cyber-Development, Cyber-Democracy, and Cyber-Defense, 1-25.

Singer, P. W., & Friedman, A. (2013). Cybersecurity. New York: Oxford University Press.

The post A Gullible Population Is a National Security Issue appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/gullible-population-national-security-issue/

The Irreplaceables: What AR and AI Mean for the Future of Teaching #iste18

A look into the future

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Augmented reality and artificial intelligence are on the horizon. What do they mean for education and teachers? What kinds of teachers will be irreplaceable and what kinds of teachers will lose their jobs? Today, we seek to answer this question.

This week I’m at ISTE where AR and AI are hot topics. So, it is a perfect fit that Cathy Rubin’s Global Search for Education topic this month is predicting the future of augmented reality and artificial intelligence and what they mean for the future of teaching. Will all of our teachers be replaced? Here’s what I think.

Welcome to Cafe Futura

You’re in a new town and, boy, you and your family are hungry! As you gaze along a row of five restaurants on the street, your AI/AR glasses spring into action. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) built into them asks, “Are you hungry?” No one else hears your AI’s voice which plays through the earpiece tucked behind your ear.

“Yes, I feel like something good, and we’ve got a coupla hours,” you say to the AI, which hears your voice through the microphone in your glasses.

Now your AI assistant knows that you’re ready for a meal. “I’ve found several open restaurants,” it tells you, engaging the Augmented Reality (AR) feature of your glasses. As you look at the row of restaurants, you see the star ratings appear above each door, along with wait times as you walk toward them. Of course, the star ratings aren’t there in the physical world, only in the AR glasses which operate a lot like the computer monitors that everyone used years ago.

“OK,” you say. “Four of us will eat at Cafe Futura.”

“I’ve got you a reservation there in fifteen minutes,” says your AI assistant. “They’ll be ready.”

As you walk into the darkened restaurant, you and your three family members all wearing AI/AR glasses, each sees a vision of the host welcoming you. The virtual host leads you to your table, handing you a virtual menu that also appears on your glasses. “Can I take an order for your drinks?” he asks.

This part of the hospitality industry has changed. Because restaurant hosts are as plentiful as the glasses or contact lenses that everyone is wearing, orders can now be placed virtually as the microphone and ear speakers interact with the virtual being showing up on each person’s glasses.

There’s no need to wait for someone to take your order, and many restaurants are contracting with celebrities whose virtual likenesses are now your waiters and waitresses and, in some ways, part of the decor and theme. One of your kids’ favorite restaurants back home had raptors from the new Jurassic Park 2030 movie taking orders as they jumped up onto tables to interact with guests.

Using glasses or contacts, virtual assistants of all kinds will appear to us using augmented reality.

Using glasses or contacts, virtual assistants of all kinds will appear to us using augmented reality.

As soon as everyone orders, an actual human being arrives to deliver your drinks and then returns to the kitchen, where she’ll wait for the actual cook to prepare your actual meal. Virtual ordering is now part of every modern restaurant — except for those “throwback” restaurants full of nostalgia for the time before 2025 when AI/AR truly transformed the world in which we live.

That was the point when humans with routine jobs (like showing someone where to sit or taking an order) were replaced with virtual beings made of the bits and bytes in the computer systems of businesses offering customer service, virtual beings that now interact with each person’s unique virtual assistant/ augmented reality display.

Rote Routines and Replacement

How does this vision of an AI/AR future apply to education?

In the Industrial Revolution, rote routine jobs were automated, replacing parts of the human labor force with machinery. In the Information Revolution, jobs requiring rote routine processing were either reassigned to computers or outsourced to places with less expensive but educated labor pools. In the AI revolution, those losing their jobs will be the people who pointed the way: hosts, museum guides, and others whose jobs were routine and repeatable.

And therein lies the prediction for the kinds of teachers who will remain relevant (and employed) in a world full of AR/AI.

In a successful techno-human ecosystem, technology does what it does best while humans do what they do best. In the case of education, building a relationship with students, noticing student strengths and weaknesses, helping students learn to collaborate and relate to others, and spurring on creativity through the creative leadership of passionate teacher-coaches — these are the kinds of irreplaceable teachers who will continue to be coveted in leading 21st-century schools well into the future, even after AR and AI transform school systems.

Sadly, however, those teachers who’ve been holding onto the same worksheets for the last 20 years and who “taught” by reading textbooks and showing the same video every year on the first of September — in other words, those teachers without creativity and whose methods are repeatable, recordable, and easily duplicable — their rote routines will make them replaceable by more engaging and exciting virtual teachers. Imagine a virtual Steve Spangler teaching science, or students getting a chance to talk face to face with a virtual Lincoln, Mandela, or Mother Teresa about their moments in history. Certainly, lecture will easily be transformed with exciting experiences.

A virtual librarian might give a library tour and a demonstration of how to use the resources might make sense if she could entertain as she does it. However, a librarian who helps kids create the perfect film shoot in their learning commons, who sparks interest and hosts students as they give a coffee shop performance, or who unveils a new makerspace where each child is creating and inventing something new — that would need to be a gifted human, most likely a 21st-century media specialist.

When change comes, there are two types of people: victims and victors. During the next few years in the education world, we’ll be seeing a clear division between those teachers who will hold onto their worksheet copies and wonder what’s happening around them and those teachers who will prosper and thrive because they’ve realized that we’re not making copies in schools — we’re making originals.

That Human Spark

Change and innovation, particularly in the most modern countries, should become part of our DNA as educators. We’re the lead learners. We should inspire creativity that will take our students far beyond filling in a worksheet or taking a multiple-choice test. We need to understand  — and we need our students to understand — that the cure for cancer can’t be found on a multiple-choice test. The answer for building peace and cooperation between two political parties is not a fill-in-the-blank answer.

The future needs people who can collaborate, communicate, and cooperate with creative solutions that are built upon a foundation of a strong knowledge of how the world works. And to educate that type of future leader, we need teachers with these same skills.

Artificial intelligence and augmented reality are like any other technology before them. They will clear the way for some exciting innovations, and they will clear the workforce of certain types of jobs that were held by those who didn’t see the change coming. And the teachers who will thrive and survive in the AR/AI revolution will be intelligent but also human. There won’t be anything artificial about their creativity, passion for learning, and excitement about their topic. The reality of their future classroom will be improved and augmented by technology, but they will partner with the emerging technology to create powerful classrooms full of learning.

So, what will you be? Will you be the kind of teacher who anticipates change and works to learn and adjust? Or will you continue to insist on an Industrial Age model where you can easily be replaced by AI and AR?

I don’t want to scare teachers, many of whom are already tired and overwhelmed. Neither do I want those who don’t really understand the power of an incredible teacher to honestly think that teachers can easily be replaced with artificially intelligent beings who can neither coach, nor handle behavior, nor spark the kind of interactions that already exist in today’s most excellent classrooms.

There’s always a place for the creative teacherpreneurs among us who are committed to sparking greatness. However, we don’t see much of a spark or much greatness emerging from a test-factory mentality where multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank dominate the day.

So, I guess the answer to whether or not you’re replaceable truly depends upon the kind of teacher that you are and the kind of teaching that you’re doing. You see, when you talk about innovative, creative, project-based approaches to teaching and learning, there’s much more at stake in your classroom and school than just your career or mine. The future of our students is also at stake. Let’s end with a fill-in-the-blank that matters for your future career as an educator. Ask yourself this question:

“When AR and AI are available to my students, I will be ________________.”

Further Readings

Interrante, V., Höllerer, T., & Lécuyer, A. (2018). Virtual and Augmented Reality. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 38(2), 28-30.

King, B. (2017). Frankenstein’s Legacy: Four Conversations about Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and the Modern World. Lulu. com.

Royakkers, L., Timmer, J., Kool, L., & van Est, R. (2018). Societal and ethical issues of digitization. Ethics and Information Technology, 20(2), 127-142.

The post The Irreplaceables: What AR and AI Mean for the Future of Teaching #iste18 appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/irreplaceables-ar-ai-mean-future-teaching-iste18/

ISTE 2018: Where I’ll Be Presenting and Joining in the Learning #iste18

My schedule for the Edtech Event of the Year!

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

ISTE 2018 is here again. I’ve been going most years since 2006 and while it overwhelms me, it is truly an awesome learning experience. This post is full of resources to get the most of your ISTE 2018 experience whether you are there (or not.)

ISTE 2018 hashtags

Remember to follow (and use) the official hashtag of #ISTE18 and #NotAtISTE18 so you can see what needs to be seen!

Lots of PD for those Not at ISTE

Remember that if you’re not going, there are lots of events including the Not at ISTE Ignite and other Events. The folks over at Edublogger have created an epic remote participation guide for ISTE 2018

Places to Join:

If You’re Attending ISTE Live or Online

If you’re attending and you want to help crowdsource the notes, check out Tzvi Pittinsky’s crowdsourced ISTE Notes and join in with the Google sheet where you can add your notes.

I’ll also be taping quite a few ISTE 2018 episodes for the next season of the 10-Minute Teacher. If you want to know how to get the most out of ISTE, check out this podcast I did last year with Terry Freedman from the UK.

Where I’m Presenting at ISTE 2018

I’ve tweeted with Peggy George and I think she’s going to ask the #PasstheScopeEDU folks to join the session as well (and I hope they do!) Say hello and if you join the session, tweet me @coolcatteacher – I’m always happy to help with your questions.

Students Won’t Stop Fact Checking Me: Teach Kids to Read News Critically (Panel)

Monday, June 25, 8:30 – 9:30 am CDT
Type of Event: ISTE 2018 Panel Discussion on Location and Streamed by ISTE
Location: W196C
Panelists: Scott Bedley, Amanda Dykes, Bill Selak and me!
Program Link: https://conference.iste.org/2018/program/search/detail_session.php?id=110831195

It’s more important than ever to teach kids how to read news critically. We’ll cover strategies for evaluating online resources and discuss media fluency to make sure students know which sources to trust and which to reject. We’ll also address fake articles, fake photos and fake videos.

Live Q&A: Using Technology to Stay in Touch with Parents (Facebook Live)

Monday, June 25, 11:15 am – 11:30 AM CDT
Type of Event: Facebook Live Stream and in the Exhibit Hall Booth 685
Location: https://www.facebook.com/events/190681735103549/
Panelists: Christelle Pasteals (Instructional Technology Coach) and me

Join us for a live conversation from #ISTE2018 where we’ll be chatting about ways teachers are using technology to stay in touch with parents. Joining us will be blogger Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) and Christelle Pastelas, an instructional technology coach. Vicki and Christelle will be sharing their experiences using parent communication tools, as well as tips for making it go smoothly.  Bring your questions and we’ll try to get as many as we can during this exciting live event!

ISTE Bytes: a 2 Minute Overview of the GoogSmacked Panel (Presentation)

Tuesday, June 26, 10:15 – 11:15 am CDT
Location: W181a
Type of Event: Listen and Learn Multi Presentation
Presenters: Gayle Berthiaume, Jeff Bradbury, Jessica Cabeen, Rico D’Amore, Jen Giffen, Dr. Randy Hansen, Carl Hooker, Jennifer Hehotsky, David Lockart, Jenny Mgiera, James McCrary, Kim Polishuke, Diane Powell, Dr. Julene Reed, Dr. Mike Ribbel, Kenneth Sheldon, Beth Smith, Sean Wybrant, Mike Yakubovsky and me
Program Link: https://conference.iste.org/2018/program/search/detail_session.php?id=111014077

Join an ISTE Bytes session to get a preview of future presentations from the ISTE program. Enjoy 2-minute presentations on upcoming sessions.

Get Goog-Smacked: An Epic Smackdown of Gsuite Tools and Teaching Tips (Panel)

Wednesday, June 27, 10:00 -11:00 am CDT
Location: W375/Skyline
Type of Event: Listen and Learn Panel on Location and Streamed by ISTE
Presenters: Kasey Bell, Eric Curts, Matt Miller and I’ll be moderating!
Program Link: https://conference.iste.org/2018/program/search/detail_session.php?id=110856258

Join a high-energy panel of Google Suite pros to learn about best practices and tips from K-12. During this smackdown, panelists will share at least 50 tips and examples of how to use G Suite tools across all subject areas and grade levels, including some of the latest innovations.


Other Places I’ll Visit and Chances for You to Win Even If You’re Not at ISTE

PowerSchool School of the Future

I’ll be visiting the PowerSchool School of the Future booth #1209. Last year, their classroom of the future was really cool but this year, they are leveling it up.

Link for information: https://www1.powerschool.com/iste-2018/


Booth 2002. I’ve been partnering with Acer to promote their STEAM Lab Makeover contest. Whether you’re going to ISTE or not, you’ll want to enter this contest!


SMART Technologies

Booth 1203. I’ve been partnering with SMART promoting their Give Greatness program designed to recognize educators with classroom equipment. Nominate an educator who inspires you to give greatness and you can both win!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the companies mentioned have sponsored blog posts or podcast episodes with me in the past including: SMART, Acer, PowerSchool and Bloomz. The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post, however, is not a sponsored post and this schedule is my own.

The post ISTE 2018: Where I’ll Be Presenting and Joining in the Learning #iste18 appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/iste-2018-schedule-events-fun/