Elon University

High School & College

Ideas to implement in the High School/College curriculum

NOTE: A great number of the assignments and exercises outlined in the Middle School section of this site can be applied in High School or College courses as well. Be sure to check that section for additional ideas of use in many disciplines.

Database Exercise: To practice using databases effectively, have students access the “Early ’90s” internet predictions database on the Imagining the Internet site and use the advanced-search function. First, ask students to experiment in finding things and familiarize themselves with this area of the site by entering different dates, media and names. Next, send them on a “scavenger hunt” to find particular items included in the database by using specific search terms and the pull-down menu. Some examples:

  • How many predictions in the Early ’90s database include the word “dog”? List a favorite. How many predictions include the word “god”? List a favorite.
  • In which year did John Perry Barlow say: “The economy of the future will be based on relationship rather than possession. It will be continuous rather than sequential. And finally, in the years to come, most human exchange will be virtual rather than physical, consisting not of stuff but the stuff of which dreams are made.”
  • How many predictions from the New York Times are included in the Early ’90s database? List a favorite.
  • Find the subtopic “newspapers” and search to see how many predictions deal with their future. What are most people saying will happen with this form of media?

Predictions Survey assignment: One section of the Imagining the Internet site – Surveys – includes information gathered by Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center and the Pew Internet & American Life Project in several surveys in the early 2000s that were aimed at finding out what leading technology people, researchers and futurists expected might happen in the years ahead. The information in the “Surveys” section of the site can be used in many ways.

  • Assign separate groups of students to each look at just one of the many pages dedicated to explaining the public’s answers to major survey questions and report to the class and then lead a class discussion of the issue. For instance a group assigned to present the information included on the page with the response to a 2012 survey question on the future of young people’s critical-thinking skills should read the lead explanation on this Web page and then go through and find 10 favorite quotes that most accurately reflect the statistical results of the survey on this question. The group of students should compile and present a report to share with the class on this question, explaining the statistical result, supporting the report with the direct quotations and leading a class discussion about how students in the entire class feel about the issue.
  • Cut and paste the annual survey questions into a document and have your students take the survey and answer the questions themselves before looking at the site. Next have the students look at the site and compare their answers with those given by the Internet experts. How are they similar and different? After reading what the experts have to say, would students want to alter their original opinions?

Typical survey questions might include:

– In the next decade, among the following – media, education, government/politics, the workplace, education, medicine, entertainment, families, communities, religion, military, international relations – which institutions and human endeavors will change the most because of the Internet? Tell us how you see the future unfolding.

– Do you agree or disagree with the following statement and why: At least one devastating attack will occur in the next 10 years on the networked information infrastructure or the country’s power grid.

– Do you agree or disagree with the following statement and why: In 2025, it will still be the case that the vast majority of Internet users will easily be able to copy and distribute digital products freely through anonymous peer-to-peer networks.

– Do you agree or disagree with the following statement and why: As computing devices become embedded in everything from clothes to appliances to cars to phones, these networked devices will allow greater surveillance by governments and businesses. By 2025, there will be increasing numbers of arrests based on this kind of surveillance by democratic governments as well as by authoritarian regimes.

– Do you agree or disagree with the following statement and why: By 2025, as telework and homeschooling expand, the boundaries between work and leisure will diminish significantly. This will sharply alter everyday family and work dynamics.

SAT preparation: To help students prepare for the writing portion of the SAT as well as to encourage thinking about the future, assign your students to study portions of the Imagining the Internet site that present information about future issues (for instance, the Early ’90s section of the site has a list of topic categories that lead to predictions about such controversial topics as copyright, anonymity, censorship, crime, privacy, information overload, e-commerce, virtual reality and many others, and they can be found in the pull-down menus.) Next assign students to answer essay questions in a timed format similar to that of the SAT. Some issues to consider include:

  • What are the positive and negative moral and ethical implications of Internet use as it becomes faster, more enveloping and ubiquitous?
  • How can we come up with a fair and equitable plan for the future of copyright and fair use that can be implemented worldwide?
  • What are the dangers ahead when the world becomes so dependent on technology that computers are making most of our major decisions without our input?
  • How does the Internet create new controversy over the conflict between law enforcement and our right to privacy and free speech?

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