Digital life is just…regular life

Yesterday, before the feature film (Inception, if you haven’t seen it, do) started, my boyfriend and I got to see an interesting trailer. The title of the film is The Social Network. And when you see the sans serif white lettering surrounded by a medium blue box, you immediately know what it’s about–Facebook. Isn’t it just crazy that there’s a movie about Facebook? But wait, give that some thought. Is it really crazy? To Digital Immigrants, digital media is a part of life, but to Digital Natives, digital media is regular life. In fact, the top ten jobs in 2010, didn’t even exist in 2004. And 2004 wasn’t even that long ago!! What’s crazy is that the importance of digital media literacy isn’t being taken as seriously as it should.

But, no worries. As Dr. Osborne has drilled, we are the revolutionaries. We can change the curriculum if we have enough passion.

I found a video, and though I can’t post it because of limited space, you really have to watch it. It’s about another revoluton–social media. The video states some startling facts that are pretty hard to ignore.

Despite those cold, hard facts, it’s still going to be a battle getting the people in charge to change their minds, especially in a politically fueled Department of Education like ours. To help, I bestow upon you, able one, a quiver of links to go to battle with.

6 Examples of Using Twitter in the Classroom

MacArthur Foundation Digital Media

Fearing Digital Literacy

Digital Literacy Implementation Strategy

What is Digital Media Literacy, and Why is it Important?

Your biggest ally in this fight is digital media itself. Use google and youtube in your research. There’s mountains of information out there.

As a last note, I’d like to thank Dr. Osborne for being enthusiastic and patient. Big ups to my classmates for being interesting, thoughtful, and nice enough to compliment me on my sub-par videos.

 Let us depart as brethren in the fight for digital literacy!

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I guess this is goodbye :'(

Yesterday was our last day in Digital Media Literacy with Dr. Osborne. It’s been a fascinating four weeks. Looking back, I have no idea how we all accomplished the things we did in such a short time. We must be demi gods or something.

During yesterday’s class, Dr. Osborne asked us each to compile the top 5 concepts we learned and the top 5 techniques that had been shared during the course of the class. Here’s mine.

Concepts

1. Digital Natives, though ingulfed in technology everyday, are not savvy enough to naviagte the digital media world without guidance.

2. Social media is changing the way they communicate and relate to each other.

3. Digital media is changing the way we think.

4. Students perform better when they’re engaged, and digital media engages them.

5. Our curriculum must evovle with the world. If it doesn’t, then our children lose.

Techniques

1. VoiceThread! Like I stated in an earlier post, I have an idea for VoiceThread that I’m excited about.

2. Teaching photo and film analysis to complement and enhance text analysis.

3. Creating a Facebook page for characters.

4. Pairing text with photos/videos and music as an interpretation.

5. Making video spoofs of text.

Of course, these don’t even scratch the surface of the interesting things introduced in class and on individual blogs.

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Digital natives get frustrated too

So…I’ve exceded my media limit. After a full ten minutes of trying to figure out why my YouTube video wouldn’t post in my last blog, I finally figured it out. And then I was more frustrated than ever. I didn’t upload the video from my computer to WordPress, it’s linked by URL, so why did it take up precious space? Why wasn’t this all explained to me in some sort of You’re an Idiot tutorial?

Even though I am a Generation Y-er, I do not consider myself a full digital native. I just immigrated young. When I was in kindergarten at Aynor Elementary Annex (RIP), we had the super fun privilidge of using green screen Apple computers once a week in the computer lab. There was only two computers, but we thought they were amazing. “Look, I can type!” Which is basically all you could do on those computers as a second grader. We typed sentences and printed them out on those scary loud printers with the tear-off edges. However, I did not grow up typing papers for school, having a cell phone, or researching on the internet. The true digital natives, I just discovered, are Generation Z. They were born after 1990, and can’t remember a world before the technology invasion.

Let’s face it, even when you’re dealing with technology that you’re comfortable with, somestimes it can still be a little scary. Digital Natives, though we consider them completely competant at dealing with all technological situations, often get frustrated, too. And most Generation Z-ers don’t have the emotional development to continue trying even when they’re confused. Guide to Online Schools offers some advice to use when introducing new technology to students. Some examples are:

1. Prepare Students in Advance: Whenever possible, inform students as soon as you can about the introduction of new technologies. Put details on your syllabus and distribute instructional materials to students prior to the first class when the technology is being used.

2. Be Patient: While some students will quickly catch on to the innovations you introduce, others may struggle to handle both coursework and learning new technology. Keep these students engaged by maintaining a positive attitude and remaining patient with them as you help them learn the technology. Whenever possible, work directly with these students to understand the specific challenges they are having.

3. Ask For and Engage Regular Feedback: During the entire process of introducing a new technology, you need to get buy-in from your students. To do this, you need to engage your students by soliciting their feedback, and it is also crucial that they know that their input is being heard by seeing you respond to their comments in productive ways.

4. Discourage Procrastination: Some students will wait until the last minute to try to complete assignments, but that strategy could backfire if they also wait to learn the new technology. Stagger small, targeted assignments in the process to encourage students to learn the technology and get the ball rolling early on major assignments.

5. Walk in their Shoes: After you have prepared all of your instructional materials, put yourself in the position of a student and try to learn the technology as if you have never been exposed to it before. You should always practice using your own materials to ensure that they are concise and easy to follow.

6. Do Trial Runs: Ask friends or family members to role play as a student so that you can test out your teaching strategy with someone who has no familiarity with the new technology. By doing this a week or more in advance of introducing a technology to students, you will be able to predict a number of potential problems that you will face in the online classroom.

7. Write a FAQ Section: As you’ve likely seen on many website and in many user’s manuals, a guide of Freqently Asked Questions (FAQs) can be a powerful tool for improving a user’s comfort with a new technology. The FAQ is different from typical written instructions in that it anticipates common questions and problems and provides a handy resource for resolving them.

8. Stay Committed: If you run into troubles early, persevere. If you appear to be waffling in your support for the new technology, students will pick up on it and won’t put forward as much effort to learn it. Keep your commitment and spirit levels up and keep working to make the technology work.

It’s easy for us to assume that our children intrinsically know how to navigate technology. In all honestly, they don’t have to be able to. What they need to know, is how to troubleshoot and figure it out without quitting when it gets hard. That’s  the winning skill.

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E-Literature: Enthusiasm Manufacturer

“The Electronic Literature Organization was founded in 1999 to foster and promote the reading, writing, teaching, and understanding of literature as it develops and persists in a changing digital environment. […] the ELO includes writers, artists, teachers, scholars, and developers.”

~Electronic Literature Organization

Our professor, Dr. Osborne, introduced us to e-literature just the other day.  And I have to say, it’s really amazing. I never knew this medium existed.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time to talk about the possibilites of e-lit in the secondary classroom. After some googling, I found that most secondary schools use e-literature as a study tool instead of a project for the students to complete themselves. A study conducted in a 9th grade biology classroom revealed promising data about the use of e-literature as a study aid: “When asked about similarities and differences between HyperCard and regular text projects, all 10 students stated that HyperCard is more interesting, more enjoyable, more exciting, or better than more conventional writing assignments. In addition, 5 students described regular text projects as boring. Even though a total of 9 students felt that HyperCard takes more time and requires more work, only 1 student showed a preference for working on regular text projects.” This study also conducted research on students making their own HyperCards. The students found it much more difficult and time consuming to make the HyperCards, but ultimately much more rewarding.

Let me ask you this: since when does a high school student knowingly favor a project that required the most amount of effort?

E-literature– enthusiasm manufacturer.

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Shreddies–Knitted by Nanas!

A few of my classmates, whose blogs you can find here and here, have been discussing the idea of teaching advertsing in the classroom. I find it to be a fantastically wonderful idea! Not having ever been taught anything about advertising myself, I am very appreciative of their blogs and lesson plans that they presented to the class. There’s so much floating out there on the internet regarding educating children about advertising, that I’m convinced it will be an acceptable practice in my future school district. Isn’t this exciting?

First, I did a little research about advertising that is being used within the schools themselves. According to EducationWorld.com schools get $25 to $35 dollars per student for having Coke or Pepsi products offered for student consumption. And though schools reject any ads with inappropriate content, some US schools are toying with the idea of accepting deals with shoe companies, restaurant chains, telecommunications companies, and hotel chains. Not only is Generation Y being constantly bombarded with advertising rhetoric outside of school, but budget cuts are likely to result in Pfizer sponsored chemistry classrooms. This means we gather arms, and give them the weapons they need to look at ads critically and to be able to use that rhetoric for their own purposes.

Second, I did a little poking around websites like TV411 and WebEnglishTeacher to find out what educators are teaching about advertising and how they’re doing it. One of the major issues teachers discuss about adverstising is fact versus opinion. Do advertisers lie? The Shreddies video points out that there is a fine line between lying and comedy. Other lessons focus on persuasive language and the ads we don’t even realise we’re seeing. Most of the suggested strategies involves an advertising project for the children.

I encourage all English teachers to ingage your students in a conversation about advertisements. As children they need the guidance, as English teachers it’s our responsibily.

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The Age of Facebook: or Civilzation’s New Cocaine

With over 500 million active users, Facebook it a force to be reckoned with. It’s like the gulf stream, affecting everything. It’s more than 500 times more powerful than the New York Times. 500! Take everyone who watched the exciting Super Bowl (am I allowed to say that?) XLIV and clone them five times, then you’ll have the active users of Facebook.com. And at least 50% of those users sign in each day.  Apparently, all those people sign in at work. Facebook causes $264 million  year to be lost in productivity in Great Britain alone. It really is a phenomenon.

And despite the common thought that Facebook is bad for social interactions, there has been reasearch that proves the opposite. That research claims that shy children feel more comfortable making friends with people from school online. Then, once they have that “social collateral” they are confident enough to talk to those friends face to face. Plus, think of the smile it puts on your face when a long lost friend or cousin who lives across the country friends you on Facebook. Facebook has those powers.

How do we as teacher fight against such a mighty force? My answer: we don’t. We can’t beat ’em, so we might as well join ’em. Now, you’re reading a blog. So, I’m going to make the assumption that you have already sold your soul to the devil and joined Facebook. What we must do next, is steal a little of that power and utilize it in our classrooms. My classmates have had some really awesome ideas about how to go about doing that.

My favorite of those ideas is to have the students create a Facebook pages (on paper, not online) for characters they’re reading about. The photo above is an example of what the town of Verona would be doing on facebook over the course of the play. Those characters might even interact through status updates and photos. This isn’t just a fluffy activity assigned only to shut the kids up for a day or two. This activity requires a deep understanding of the literature, the characters and their motivations.

If we can utilize more technologies like Facebook in the classroom, we could nearly revolutionize education. Even as a literature lover, high school English classes were more often than not snooze worthy. How much more could we teach students if they were actually engaged with the activity?

Facebook better look out. We’ve got revolutionary teachers on the prowl!

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Comixed.com

Every article we have read has proven the same point over and over: Generation Y students are more engaged in a learning activity when it involves technology or new media. As teachers who didn’t grow up using new media or technology any more evolved than a transparency projector, we have a daunting task. We have to change a lot of what we know about teaching. We’ve got to go in there with our game faces on, or they’ll devour us. Like flesh eating wasps.

Fortunately for you, my little overworked dearies, the internet levels the playing field considerably. Everyone has access to everything. Whatever technology or websites they are interested in, you can learn about online and try to incorporate it into your lesson plans.

I’ve only been thinking about lesson plans since the beginning of June, yet I’ve come across several websites that encourage use of comic strips to teach story, inference, organization, etc. Well, I can one-up that: Comixed.com. Comixed.com is a photo blogging website much like aforementioned icanhascheezburger.com. Users submit photos that they have created humorous text for, and then it is enjoyed by the masses. The fun thing about comixed.com is that it’s a series of around four photos that create a sort of comic strip. Often photos of one person or even are mixed with a totally unrelated person or even to create the story with results varying from LOL to that-was-a-waste-of-four-seconds.

Now, while I would not recommend that you send your children to this website, I do think we could take their idea, and evolve it for classroom applications.

1. Find some child-friendly Comixed submissions and present them to the class, sans one photo. They can then use inferencing skills to figure out what the missing photo might be of and/or say.

2. Ask them to make their own comixes. They could use photos from the internet or magazine and newspaper clippings. This would be a simple way to talk about beginning, middle, and end, and climax and resolution.

Of course, there are surely many more classroom applications, but I’m all tapped out for the evening.

If you get a chance, surf on over to the website and see if any inspiration hits you right on the funny bone.

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