Reflections on EC&I 831

I left class last night unsure of what I expected of the class.  For myself I have worked previously with in a small blogging community and am not as interested as I was previously.  I find myself more and more interested in the interactions in more well established communities such as reddit (which is really gaining its stride lately), New Grounds and maybe even as far as Eve Online.

The reason why I find these communities so interesting and relevant to how I need to approach my students in terms of social media is that this is where our students are coming from.  Instead of fledgling formal blogging groups we have students who are in communities that have been around as long as they have been using the computer.  Each one has all of the characteristics that Dr. Schwier mentioned in his talk last night.  I often wonder if we as educators will be able to create a “community” that is dynamic enough for the students to interact with us at an authentic level.

There are a couple instances where this thought sticks out for me.

1. I’m starting a Video Gaming club at my high school and have been playing games with students over the lunch hour.  I saw a student watching the game going on and asked if he wanted to join all he said was, “No if I wanted to play this game I’d just do it at home”.  Imposing any context that limited his experience was met with rejection because as educators we need to work at trust before we will have any sort of meaningful interaction.

2. The other example that I thought of was a quote I heard in the preview for the movie everything by everyone where a pod caster makes the comment, “On the internet I have all of the choices in the world, I have millions of choices.  So if you want to get my time and attention you need to create something that I actually care about like something that I’m passionate about.  So the whole world of media is moving from good enough to great.  That’s the central shift, and if its not great then you’re out of luck because there are too many people out there making stuff.

I hope that the things that I put together for my students border on great but anything less will be met with apathy because unfortunately once the novelty wears off people are going to move on to something else.

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About mrthejud

I'm a teacher at Greenall High School in Saskatchewan.
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4 Responses to Reflections on EC&I 831

  1. I think you have a unique opportunity, as someone very familiar with gaming and the edgy, fringe elements sometimes associated with it, to reach kids in the classroom who might not otherwise be engaged! Starting a video gaming club is an awesome idea!

    As far as dynamism of communities, I think that waxes and wanes as the members change. A group which is dynamic one year may be less so the next, simply due to the make-up of the members. Blogging, social networking, etc… are all simply tools to engage students and broaden learning. Like any set of tools, some students will engage more than others with certain tools – just as you are more engaged by reddit than by blogging. That doesn’t make blogging “wrong” or reddit “right” – it just means they appeal to different people in different ways.

    Finally, about that last quote: creating something students care about does not at all equate to creating something “great,” but something MEANINGFUL. After all, look at the popularity of YouTube. The majority of video that go viral aren’t “great” in terms of production standards or even content, but they are meaningful to the people who watch them and pass on links to them. The “good” versus “great” concept might WELL apply to video gaming (we recently inherited my husband’s childhood Atari game console and games – yeowch! it’s almost painful to watch!) but I don’t buy the concept as applied to online communities or content for students.

    • mrthejud says:

      I am sorry if it came accross that I thought one was right and one was wrong. I meant that the larger online community dynamics are what I am interested in.

      Youtube is a fairly open community where certain items catch and on and others don’t. The reason why I mentioned the New Grounds documentary is because they have been around for 10 years longer than Youtube itself. So with that time for the community to mature there is more competition and it is harder to get noticed/people become more jaded to content which is not up to par. So it really all boils down to the motivation behind using these tools for the students.

      What I need to look at more is why the students are as motivated as they are to use things like Youtube. Is it for the recognition? Is it to try and “get discovered”? Or is it just that they want to put something out there?

  2. Mary Worrell says:

    I think you hit on something teachers experience often – that when we mix education with something our students enjoy somehow we’ve “tainted” it. Trust is paramount and we have to straddle that important line between meeting them where they are and allowing them to have their own spaces.

    While that student didn’t play the game and just watched, I think you probably had some effect. Kind of like an US Magazine effect: “Teachers – they’re just like us!” It may change his perspective of teachers just a little bit and help build some of that trust.

  3. Fascinated by this point of yours:

    ” Instead of fledgling formal blogging groups we have students who are in communities that have been around as long as they have been using the computer. Each one has all of the characteristics that Dr. Schwier mentioned in his talk last night. I often wonder if we as educators will be able to create a “community” that is dynamic enough for the students to interact with us at an authentic level.”

    Perhaps the only way ‘forward’ is not to look for a grand unifying theory of blogging w/ students. All assignments — no matter how authentic/real-world — possess a slight degree (or more) of this tension. And the same will be true of all social media driven/supported efforts.

    The key, IMHO, about your point lies in the recognition that the temporary experience of being dropped into a class-based network (like the class itself with an end-date of peers showing up together) does not guarantee the long-term value or active nature of the network.

    But maybe the key is to also not need ‘all’ of it to be permanent. Perhaps a single point on the constellation of the network will be worth holding onto when the class and assignment fades over time.

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