PBS recently aired the Frontline piece, digital_nation: life on the virtual frontier. I came away feeling the segment functioned more as a conversation starter. So I was pleased when I went online to find that the web site associated with the video offers multiple venues for viewers to explore more deeply various aspects of this topic, including the ability to engage in and follow extended dialogue with the filmmakers, interview subjects and other viewers. The film’s producer, Rachel Dretzin, talks about how they opened up the entire filmmaking process to the worId, allowing anyone to view the rough cuts, to make comments, and to submit their own videos as well. Is this perhaps a strength of social media for learning? Could we use the affordances these environments provide to guide our students into more complex, nuanced understandings of a subject? Support the development of critical (media) literacy skills? Or do we run the danger, as Mark Bauerlein warns (at 4:10), of sacrificing the essential ability to engage in slow, linear thinking, reading and writing?
Michael Jensen, in Authority 2.0 and 3.0: The Collision of Authority and Participation in Scholarly Communications asserts that “technology is less the driver of change than is our cultural response to technology.” How is that perspective echoed in our other materials? In what ways have these technologies made an impact on you as an educator and student?
It’s one thing to reflect on and react to these technologies, it’s quite another to figure out how to filter and manage the abundant resources and information now available through the internet. In the spirit of collaboration and community building, many educators are turning to these mediated environments to learn with and from each other. Bill Ferriter, a language arts teacher in North Carolina, created a wiki to share with others the what, why and how of social bookmarking for educators. We’ll devote class time to exploring some tools that can help us manage content of interest to us and that can provide our students and us the option of learning with and from those outside the traditional course environment.