Archive for the 'Web 2.0' Category

It’s A Matter Of Approach

This morning Laura tweeted about an article by Danah Boyd. I was struck by this paragraph:

“I have become a “bad student.” I can no longer wander an art museum without asking a bazillion questions that the docent doesn’t know or won’t answer or desperately wanting access to information that goes beyond what’s on the brochure (like did you know that Rafael died from having too much sex!?!?!). I can’t pay attention in a lecture without looking up relevant content. And, in my world, every meeting and talk is enhanced through a backchannel of communication. This isn’t simply a generational issue. In some ways, it’s a matter of approach [emphasis mine].”

Besides surprising me with the little fact about Rafael (what a way to go, huh?) it reminds me of how I am a “bad student” too. The key thing to point out is that it has nothing, let me repeat that, nothing to do with being part of the “Net-Generation” (oh how I loathe that label). I had to teach myself to have the discipline to not goof off on my laptop and I had to learn to utilize the internet and its resources to better my education. I wasn’t born with this desire and I certainly didn’t learn it growing up. I learned it when I came to college and became involved with a community of people who loved learning and cared about the role of technology in learning. Being part of a caravan of life-long learners taught me a new approach to my education and it encouraged me to look beyond the basic things I used my computer for.

All of this reminded me of a post Martha recently wrote where she talked about the purple boxes that she had seen on the side of the highway. For her it was not enough to just take note of them, she needed to know what the heck they were. Martha said:

“And I had to know because I pretty much knew I had a way to find out the answer. I guess my point is that in this information-rich world, not knowing is simply not an option for me anymore. If I didn’t have access to the tools to find my answers, I think it would drive me crazy.”

This is the way I have certainly become and have been since high school. I’ve learned better ways to search on Google and if Google fails to help me I can figure out where to go next. While this may be true of me many of my friends don’t automatically think this way. I don’t know how many times I have to say to them, “Why don’t you look it up on Google?” and it is like the thought never occurred to them. These are students my age who aren’t taking this approach to the web, probably because they’ve never been pushed to think about it in that way before.

So can we drop the label “Net-Gen”? Or at least change the definition of it? If you call someone my age a Net-Gen kid you would be right in saying we grew up with the internet and probably spend a lot of time on it. I think it is wrong to say that just because someone grew up using it doesn’t mean they are tech savvy or think of new ways to use it. While the internet is radically different from a lot of technology in the past it is still a technology. Just because you might have grown up with a record player doesn’t mean you know how to work a turntable and DJ. Sure you know how to use a record player but, it doesn’t go much pass the basic. Just because someone grew up with the internet doesn’t mean they know how to make a mash-up or understand RSS; they can probably browse and create a word document though. That might be a poor analogy, I don’t know. I really wish we could forget the labels or actually think about what we mean when we say those things.

My learning has been augmented through the use of the web because people older than me pushed me to think outside my “browse the web & create word document-box”. Like Danah Boyd said, “It’s a matter of approach”. And personally, I have had to learn a new approach and make a concious decision to take responsibility for my education. I did not magically become this way just because I grew up with the internet.

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Chants from a Digital Native

Today Gardner tweeted an article by Christopher Scanlon, “The Natives Aren’t Quite So Restless”. Normally I avoid articles touting to understand what exactly a digital native is and what any of it means. But since it came with the Gardo© nod of approval I read through it. Right off the bat I will say it was one of the best articles I have read about Digital Natives.

The ending paragraph puts it succinctly:

If we are to equip students to navigate a digital world, education ought to be based on assessing students’ individual strengths and weaknesses rather than making glib generalisations that mistake using Facebook for technological savvy.

Thank you! This may seem obvious, but the way Scanlon goes through his argument is one of the best I’ve seen. While generalizations can be helpful in broad conversations it does not belong in higher education where generalizations paint with a broad brush over everything, obscuring important detail.

I probably know more people that have the characteristics of a “digital native” that by definition fall into the “digital immigrant” territory, than supposed “digital natives” that represent digital natives. The reason I even fall into the category of digital native now comes from knowing those digital immigrants who have showed me the way. Yeah I was good at the lower-level digital stuff beforehand, most people are, digital natives aren’t special in that. Scanlon points out that we mistake my generations use of Facebook and constant connection to the web as digital literacy and creating processing and thinking. So lets look beyond broad generalizations that work on the surface and start digging deeper for what is really going on. Its not as simple as native and immigrant, it never has been one or the other throughout the history of man, so why would the digital world be any different?

I Love The Kool-Aid, But…

    Now that Joseph has stirred up the pot, and it is a pot that definitely needs to be stirred, I thought I’d do a little bit of a response at this late hour.

Right off the bat I think Joseph is right in saying that students don’t use what they don’t think they need. I see this apply to blogging a lot, if a student doesn’t see an intrinsic value in it they will not use it. For those skeptics it takes a lot of convincing that blogging is not really like writing a paper in a word document. I would also say what they have to blog about may make it harder or easier for somebody to write. I will even admit that I have been behind on my blogging for my Digital History Seminar because a lot of what I am doing for that class involves technology and I don’t really like writing documentation. But sometimes you just have to suck it up and do it. I am really looking forward to the idea of talking about solutions for these kinds of problems at Faculty Academy, like really excited. I see this also be connected with something Martha recently blogged about, along similar lines with the FSEM. Basically, I am excited hah.

Jeff also responded to Joe’s post with a lengthy comment/post, there is one particular part that stuck out to me:

Yes, I’m asking students to do something new, or to push themselves, or to think about doing something in a different way, and yes, that potentially takes away from their time to read (or learn) about those darn battles, but that’s a choice I’ve made as the creator of the course. That choice is based in my desire to balance the skills and content portions of my class (that’s an over-stated dichotomy here) to provide the best possible experience for the students going forward, not just in that course, but hopefully in others as well.

This goes back to something I have been thinking about lately. What exactly is the purpose of higher education? Is it about content or is it something more? I would like to think that it involves more than content, in fact I can’t stand the thought of purely a content driven education. Personally, at this moment I am not planning to teach history (my major), or work at a museum, or necessarily do something along those lines. I am investing in a college education because of the experience and the skills, the content is more a coating on the pill to make it go down easier. This is just my opinion, but I am guess that the majority of students are traveling down this same road.

There is more I want to say, but its is too late and I have to get up early. More to come.

Trying to Expand

About a week into the year of blogging and I’ve already realized I can’t go about ranting everyday, without driving myself crazy. I think I edited yesterdays post about 10 times after publishing it. So I’m trying to push myself to think outside my normal cycle of “real school kool-aide”, I’ll admit I am bit addicted.

I had a conversation with Joe (who has also fallen into the trap of working as a student aide at DTLT) and his different view on real school and web 2.0 matters has stimulated some thought. As we chatted I talked about how blogging is important to me because I feel more connected with everyone and that I value having a pathway to converse and learn from other bloggers. Joe responded by saying he never really thought of blogging like that and for him blogging is another form of press. Our conversation carried on and I felt like I was getting that other perspective I have been wanting for awhile. One of my problems is that when I try to think of counter-arguments I tend the counter those counter arguments and I am stuck with the same old record playing in my head. I’m still learning to be critical of my own beliefs.

So one of my goals over this year of blogging is to critically examine my ideas and beliefs, play a bit of devils advocate. In some ways I am looking for an argument, someone to challenge what I have put out there, to stretch my thinking a bit. I could put something ridiculous out there, I’m not sure yet, but whatever it is, it will take some thinking.

Now taking a few steps back to something I mentioned in the first paragraph. As I mentioned, blogging has been important to me because of the community that is involved and the connections between people. So another goal of blogging over the year is to come up with questions I want other people to respond to. I would respond to these questions too, but I’m really looking what you guys have to say. Nothing incredibly personal, but questions that encourage the community to respond and share an experience. Again I’m not exactly sure what kind of questions I will ask, it could be anything I suppose (off the top of my head: describe a class that changed your life) and I would even encourage other bloggers to put out questions of their own. It sounds kind of creepy, but I want to know you! Growing up I didn’t want my parents to tell made-up fairy tales, I made them tell me stories from when they where younger. So, whats your story?

Transistions and Change

The transition from high school to college is complex enough and recently I’ve been wondering if technology has made it easier or harder. I don’t have much analysis on the matter because it is more a problem I have been dealing with and have felt more acutely since being home. College has long been regarded as a time where you can start over and find out who you are but, how easy is it in this very connected world? In this transitional time where society is becoming more and more dependent on the technologies that make us connected is my generations college experience (or our lives for that matter) setting a new precedent?

For instance, cellphones keep you connected at all times and even screening calls is a little more difficult because people know you can see their missed calls. People even get upset if you are the type of person that keeps your cellphone off regularly (I used to be this type of person) because not being able to contact someone at every moment is just horrible, right? I’m not trying to put down connectivity because I have been enjoying the benefits of applications like Twitter ever since the Faculty Academy but, I’m wondering how do we go about disconnecting from certain things? Isn’t there a time when we need to move on or readjust our connections?

Perhaps I feel my worlds (yes worlds) are colliding (or will soon be) and I don’t know if I should put up boundaries or just let it be. Most of my family knows I blog but, I am still reluctant to give those who ask the URL. I can think of some family members I wouldn’t mind sharing it with but, others I rather not see it. The same thing goes for friends from high school and friends from college. My blog is out there though, isn’t it? I don’t make posts private and I really don’t talk about embarrassing personal stories that I wouldn’t want my mom to know but, I can’t help feel that there needs to be a separation. In an attempt to try to sort out who I am my thoughts often end up being showcased on my blog. A simple solution would be not to blog about it or limit it but, I don’t think I could really consider that option. Maybe I feel like I am under a microscope of sorts and because my generation spends countless hours on Facebook following people I fear if I shared my blog with peers I would be subject to that same watchful eye, especially since there aren’t many student bloggers. Maybe it is my fear of being known or maybe I just care too much about what others might think?

Today I googled my name and on the first page there was multiple links connecting people to me. It is becoming easier to find me and things I have said.

googlesearchmyname.png

One of my friends recently left a post on my wall on Facebook and told me while doing a google search she found my blog.

Am I really afraid to fail and “fail gloriously”? Yes. Years of being subtly told failure is to be avoided and making a mistake is a sign of sloppiness, stupidity, or apathy. I’m struggling because I’m not sure I am really ok with making a mistake. When people are more likely to ask me what my GPA is than what I learned I cannot help but feeling failure needs to be avoided. People will try to put learning from mistakes in a shiny light but, more often it feels like it would have been better to have avoided making the mistake in the first place.

Here I am though, sharing this with the whole world. Although while I am writing this I am thinking about the people who read my blog and comment, more than I am imagining everyone on the web. A wise friend recently said to me it is “…interesting how the audience can call something out of us. We know that at least a few trusted readers will read it. Later we learn that many other folks will also love it–but it’s the trusted circle that calls it forth”. I think that is one of the reasons I continue to share and put this out there, it is these people who I can trust to respond with something meaningful to say. If I fail in front of these people I need not fear being ridiculed, these people embrace “making a mess”.

My life is the editing stages, preparing for a major mashup of my past and present lives. As my online life becomes more transparent and as I plan to purposely do this starting this fall (atleast that is what I am telling myself) I have come back to idea of connections. It is clear that not all connections are equal, some are more valued than others. So as I deal with feelings of anxiety and worry about how well things will come together I have to remember to take a deep breath. I am starting to realize I am not enslaved by these connections, in fact I may very well be in charge of these connections. This may just be a matter of asserting myself and taking risks but, that is an issue for another blog post.

It must be true!

Found an article today, “Web 2.0 wave starts to take hold”

If BBC news says it, it must be true! Maybe they saw the pictures of Web 2.0 and could no longer deny it’s existence?

I’m still waiting for BBC to report on University 2.0…


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