This past week in our ECMP 355 class we explored the online world of digital citizenship. We had Alec Couros in class who is a professor at the UofR and he spoke to us about the advantages (and disadvantages) of this new participatory culture. We also were encouraged to watch this video by Michael Wesch. We were only told to watch the first fifteen minutes but this took me my storm and I could not stop watching!! As I have said before, I am a very traditional learner so in all honesty, the initial thought of even taking a technology course (nevermind implementing new technology in the classroom) was terrifying to me. I used to always think the pen and paper method worked for me so that means it must have worked for everyone else too! So why can’t we just keep teaching that way?
Both Alec and Michael emphasized this new form of user generated distribution which basically means the more people that watch it and share it, the more people see it. In fact, Michael actually talked about this free video he had created about WEB 2.0 on a Wednesday afternoon. By that Sunday (Superbowl Sunday), it had become more popular than any of the Superbowl commercials (that companies pay thousands and thousands of dollars for) including this one!
In the same aspect, Alec talked about a lady named Justine Sacco who went to Africa and posted on her Twitter “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m White” right before boarding her plane. She had hardly any followers but by the time she landed, her tweet had become a phenomenon. She ended up losing her job, and many books were written about this one tweet in particular.
I think both of these scenarios show how brilliant but yet how terrifying the internet can truly be. In this new participatory culture of digital citizenship, anyone from anywhere can have access to or share multiple videos, books, movies, tweets, ect with a single click. Adilyn Malcolm is a perfect example of how this access can allow for a whole new world of opportunity. Alec showed this video to us in class and it had me so intrigued I went searching for more information.
Throughout my search, I continued to find multiple videos of her including this. The ability to self-teach herself dance has now given her the opportunity to speak to a group of students in a school about how she learned all of these moves through the internet. I think it is beyond fascinating that we have all of these resources at our expense. Adilyn taught herself a multitude of new skills by simply watching videos instead of spending thousands of dollars on dance lessons. Let’s be honest, in today’s society, who has thousands of dollars to spend on any sort of extracurricular like this?
This brings me to my initial point about integrating technology into the classroom. Although I am still terrified of technology, I think it is critical that we teach to the specs of 21st-century learning and integrate this into our classrooms. I think one of the most critical aspects we need to do is teach our students about our digital footprint and how quickly things can spread when they are put onto the internet (just like the story of the lady going to Africa).
In saying that, technology is prevalent in every aspect of our students lives today. I think if we teach them proper etiquette at school, it will carry into their home lives and hopefully protect them there as well. I think this is a lot like the Birds and the Bees talk! If you tell your child student to just “not do it”, they will likely do it anyways. It’s like an “Oh yeah, just watch me” thing! If you explain to your child the safe way to do things, the chance of running into unexpected mishaps will lessen.
I also think this opens up a world of possibilities for new dimensions of learning. As you can see in my recent Learning Project post, I have recently started learning how to do DIY Woodworking. I have simply watched videos, read forums, and became really great friends with Pinterest! Alot like Adilyn, I am learning all sorts of new things and I think the exact same scenario could play out in our classrooms. Students could lead self-directed projects such as learning to write an essay or you could do class-wide activities such as exploring to see what Africa is like. The possibilities with technology (specifically forms of social media) in the classroom are truly endless.
Let me know what you think. Are there more things to be worried? What else would you use mediums such as Youtube and Twitter for?