As a continuation to my Social Media series started last week, I introduce a new weekly series discussing the latest news articles themselves discussing various social media topics. Seems somewhat roundabout perhaps, but I will dissect the articles and present my reflections on the relevance to education in the 21st century.
I begin today with "The Chatty Classes" in the New York Time Magazine section. The article suggests that politics and Twitter should be kept separate and that Twittering, like the days of private diary writing, should be something kept to yourself. It's the same old story of "why do I care what you ate this morning?" People still aren't getting it. It's not about diary writing. It's about networking. It's about following people who share your interests in order to increase your own expertise or simply for enjoying discussion on shared topics. For education, this means that students have yet another outlet for learning. They can reach out to experts on Twitter to gain new perspectives on a topic not found anywhere else. And, by the way, these same students will be the experts in tomorrow's Twitterverse.
"With Kindle, Can You Tell It's Proust?" suggests that Kindles and similar devices negate the benefits of reading actual books - for publishers, that is readers who buy a book after seeing someone else reading it, and for readers, the snobbery or fantasy of trying to determine what type of person reading a book is. I introduce the topic of Kindle here because, besides books, many are also "cramming the day's newspapers" on to it. So, it's a device for social media. My perspective is somewhat different. I'm not too concerned with trying to figure out why someone is reading a certain book, and while I do sometimes get an idea to read a book based on someone I see reading it, I wouldn't oppose Kindle for that reason alone. For me, I do enjoy the feel of flipping through the pages of a book and spend enough time "on screen" that a book feels like down time to me. However, remember that I'm a "Digital Nagrant". Wearing my Native hat, I see lots of educational and environmental benefits to a Kindle. 1) All textbooks can be delivered through a Kindle (assuming the price drops dramatically) and students will only have to carry one little device back and forth to school. No more, "I forgot my book at home". 2) Notes and highlights are all stored and shared electronically. 3) Think about how much paper will be saved! And, these are just to name a few...
A Singer-Songwriter Ignores Musical Boundaries profiles Gabriel Kahane, a young classical/pop musician most well known for his song "Craigslistlieder" about online dating and personal ads found on Craigslist. I mention this article, not because Craigslist is so social-mediaesque but more because it highlights the new forms of inspiration that are driving artists to create music, art, theatre and more. Educationally speaking, social media and the Internet itself, is a prominent source of inspiration in the lives of students today and this should be leveraged in the classroom.
Web 2.0 is even making it's way into film in the upcoming (Dec 2009) picture "Avatar". The article, "Fan Fever is Rising for Debut of 'Avatar'", describes what limited information is available about the much anticipated specially designed 3-D technological film to rival any picture of the past. The idea is that the 3-D virtual world will feel so real that it's like "dreaming with your eyes open". So, it begs the question, how different is a 3D film from an immersive education platform? Could we someday transform our classrooms into movie theatres and learn in this transcendent otherly world where lessons are hidden among the actual experience of doing?
Lastly, we speak often of the democracy of the Internet, the fact that everyone has an equal voice and participation and sharing of ideas is what drives this new era we live in. But, what happens to Internet democracy in non-democratic countries? In "A Tibetan Blogger; Always Under Close Watch, Struggles for Visibility", we learn that Woeser, a Tibetan poet and blogger is blocked and under constant scrutiny because of her beliefs that she espouses on her blog - Invisible Tibet (not in English). Her first three blogs were blocked. It is scary to think that governments even today are not recognizing the individual's right to freedom of speech and expression, espcially in this new age of participation. I mention this here because it is a topic that we, as educators, should strive to impress upon our students. It is only through educational enlightenment that these ancient traditions have any chance of falling away and bringing forth global equality.