Post # 15

In high school, I recall doing many book reports, all of which included a creative aspect—make a collage, write a poem, create a diary, ect.—as an attempt to deepen our understanding of both the characters and author.  Although nothing really brings you closer to protagonist quite like dressing up like them to present your shoebox diorama of the climax, I think that a movement to integrating technology as a replacement for the arts and crafts portion of book reports is what we need now.  Macaroni art lost its luster when power point came out, and I think it is high time we take the next step forward in school work: integration of social media.

I am not personally familiar with twitter, but I have a basic understanding of the principles of the structure: people create a user name, make “tweets” and “follow” their friends or interesting people who say funny things.   Each of these tweets can consist of only 140 characters, so it is hard to imagine how informative and in depth a discussion about World War II can be.  Forums however, designed to engage conversation without limitations on word count can lend themselves to the long winded, making focus difficult for our blossoming generation of short attention spans.  I think that integrating fun into learning is the best way to engage learning, so maybe it is time that teachers recognize the untapped power of using social media in lessons.  Students are already very familiar with the way these sites work, and are willing to use them more often than textbooks. 

As I mentioned before, with the character limitations, the online portion of the discussion will often lack depth.  Despite this, one should never underestimate the power of one-liners.  Influential sentences or quotes can have lasting effect and spark a student’s interest in something they did not know that they did not know.  To have a chance to commemorate something extraordinary from our history as humans, in our own modern way, could be a real selling point to some students.  Making it interesting is what it is all about, and textbooks and fake photo albums just cannot compare to the opportunities available because of modern technology.  

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Post #14

Intellectual property is an abstract, intangible thing.  It is a noun, to be sure, but not the kind one can steal or destroy, only create.  In the film The Social Network, however, some people try to suggest otherwise.  Accusations are made, fights break out, and people loose friends over an idea sparked with the intent to make friends.  But I feel that intellectual property becomes public property once you release it from the depths of your mind.

Society is built on the collaboration of the ideas and thoughts of many.  No one individual is the center of the universe, whose word is law and governs the nations with their immense brainpower and limitless skill for problem solving.  Society is dependent on newer products, bigger payoffs, and better solutions.  Once you put out an idea, suggestion, or thought, –no matter how simple or complex—even if no course of action is taken to make it a reality, then it is still out there.  You cannot take it back and keep it for your selfish self, the now public opportunity is the responsibility of humanity.  You make a car, I will make one better.  You build a tall building, I will build one taller.  Competition is the way of life and it is the natural order of human beings.  Romans were excellent borrowers and improvers, and they lived thousands of years ago.  Without them compiling and refining ideas, we would not remember them. 

People get so caught up in themselves that they often forget the bigger picture—especially people from low context, individualistic societies like the one I am so privileged to come from.  We create new fantastic things that my grandparents would not have dared dream about, incredible things that have so vastly improved our lives that we have time to worry about how many Facebook friends we have, instead of whether or not we will eat today.  And yet, we still find things to get upset about and whine to each other like children on the play ground shouting “she stole my idea!” No, she heard your idea, and then improved upon it. 

Post #13

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/04/03/new-starry-time-lapse-a-tribute-to-sky-watchers/

I found this blog by Victoria Jaggard on National Geographic’s website.  She is a professional journalist who writes about new discoveries in astronomy, entertaining facts we all already knew, and everything in between.  From stargazer’s time laps videos to people playing angry birds in space, almost every post is in response to a new exciting video or astonishing photograph.  She is obviously in the know, as she quotes astronomers and references well known, credible sources.  Her posts are based mainly in factual information, but she is not afraid to give her opinion on a video or express how excited she is to see a photo of the milky way. The balance between her personal and professional opinions is precarious, but she maintains it fluidly.  When her opinions are being expressed, Jaggard is so genuine and convincing that I have no doubts in her mastery of persuasion.  However, it should be noted that I am a HUGE fan of astronomy and am fascinated by the mystery of what is beyond.  I often find myself, just as she does, in awe of the colors and patterns found in the image of something as spectacular as a supernova.  To get a better handle on things that seem so abstract, so distant, so impossible to comprehend, makes me catch my breath as I feel my insignificance.  Some people do not care for the ecstasy the universe is prepared to provide, but I am glad to share Jaggard’s wonder.  It might not be a source full of pressing matters like the economy, or entertaining factoids about the hottest celebrities, but it is a great place to catch up on what’s new (or what is millions of years old) in the vastness that lies beyond our teeny tiny world.  I am definitely going to be checking it out for fun news.

Post #11

Tweets can now be cited with their source properly documented in any MLA style writing because official guidelines have been posted.  Great.  Although I do not have a twitter account and therefore have no right to say that nothing profound has ever been posted on a feed of tweets, but I am going to anyways.  Twitter was invented to be an endless stream of status updates shared amongst friends and to help young girls easily cyber-stalk hot, teen celebrities like Justin Beiber.  Unless you need to write a paper about how much Sally “loves her cat Simon!” or how Timmy “pwned Call of Duty 2” Twitter will not be of much help.

I fear that creating guidelines for citing tweets is a step taken in an attempt to modernize writing standards, but we would have been better off without it.  Younger people who are learning how to write essays and make citations have not yet mastered the skill of critical thinking and are not cautious of the validity of everything they read.  To tell them that they can now cite twitter could be potentially dangerous to their development as a good writer.  What cold hard facts can one possibly find from twitter that could not be acquired from a more reputable source?  Social network sites are not where you go hunting for data about the rainforests or the anatomical diagram of a frog—it is where you go to socialize. 

I acknowledge that there are scholarly individuals who use twitter, but it is not a location intended for people to post scholarly works.  The best information use when creating an academic work is peer reviewed, scholarly, and comes from a credible source.  If you have turned to twitter to find information, I think you need more help than good ol’ Sally and Timmy can give.

Post # 10

In the article “Finding Your Book Interrupted … By the Tablet You Read It On” by Julie Bosman and Matt Richtel, the pros and cons of e-books and the devices available for e-reading are discussed.  I do not personally own an e-reading device, but if I did get one, it would have to be something without internet access capabilities.  I do not enjoy reading very much.  It has to be an excellent, captivating book for me to continue turning pages or I easily become disinterested.  There is a fine stack of unfinished reads in my room back home to prove it.  With a Kindle Fire or Tablet Reader, I would be hopeless.  

My ADD kicks in when there is technology in my hands and I cannot help but have eight tabs open at the same time on my laptop or play four different games on my phone in twenty minutes.  I find it impossible to focus when, with just a few quck movements of my fingers, I could be playing Heaven&Hell or Sudoku or looking up Dictionary.com’s word of the day.  I have severe trouble with online classes because of my “techno joy” and cannot read a text book unless I can hold it in my hands and flip pages and write notes on Post-its.  With any possibility of distraction, I will simply never get it done.  Studying is a precise process for me that includes turning off my cell phone and allowing myself minimal internet time.

A print book does not offer me the cripplingly constant disruption I find in online text books.  I am very fond of them and will never give them up.  But I can definitely see the appeal of the Kindle, allowing one to easily bring any book anywhere, and I would be delighted to receive it as a lovely gift, but I doubt I’ll ever buy one on my own dime.  I am simply far too attached to the simplicity of a printed on paper book to purposely pay to make my life more difficult with such distracting capabilities.

 

Post # 7

Social networking sites have literally millions members who post billions of statuses, photos, comments, and “likes” everyday. Many people have hundreds of “friends” that they do not know personally, or don’t regularly connect with directly along with the 150 individuals you might actually be real life friends with that the human brain can efficiently log social relationships with.  Every one of those posts can be viewed, depending on your privacy policy, by your friends, their friends, your friends’ friends, or anybody who has a Facebook. People who post want their opinions to be heard and validated by someone in their network of “friends”.

Teens are melodramatic by nature and often express their assumed anguish to their friends in any way possible.  Facebook is a new medium for channeling emotions, but unlike a personal journal or diary, Facebook “friends” can provide immediate feedback.  Not only can teens have these intense emotions and express them, but they can receive instant feedback from an audience that is now more vast than comprehension.  So it’s easy to say you really can’t read too deeply into anything, but we shouldn’t say that.

Although it is difficult to weed out the daily moody “fluff” from true cries for help from individuals in serious need of assistance, Facebook is a good place to learn things about people that, oddly enough, they might not reveal in person.  Some find it easier to pour their heart out to no one in particular and allow the cosmos to decide if anyone cares.  You don’t need to be a trained therapist or counselor to noticed that someone is seriously sad.

I have a personal connection with Facebook being a lifesaving tool.  A friend of mine (lets call her Lucy) was going through a rough patch in her life–nothing was going well for her and she expressed her anguish on Facebook regularly.  After friending our math teacher, Mr. Haines, he noticed how unhappy the young girl was and told Lucy’s parents.  Luckily, Lucy got help.  We all found out later that she had bought sleeping pills and was deliberating the ultimate decision.

Like I said, you don’t need to be a therapist to see that someone is sad.  If you’re worried about a friend or daughter, brother or student, talk to them.  Show some empathy and let them know that yes, the cosmos is responsive and people do care.  It’s called being a human being and I fully support it.

Post # 8

“Where are the computers in your neighborhood?” isn’t really a question most two and three year olds would ask, many of us have a computer, laptop, or iPad in our house. Elmo however, was on a quest for technology and I liked that they did not make the assumption that there might be a computer in the home: he was offered the library computers and the school computers.  Even in this age of technology, not everyone has access to things like the internet or HBO and Sesame Street offers an alternative source to something that many take for granted within their home.

First Elmo crosses the path of the librarian, a puppet who is more than happy to show Elmo the computers in the library.  She shows him where the computers are and then tells him it has a screen and keyboard.  The librarian offers to turn it on for Elmo, which says to children that adult supervision required for using these public computers.  A connection between computers and learning is established because children associate things that require the help of adults with being beyond their current capacity. Such challenges often inspire a hopefulness that they will one day achieve such grown-up things themselves. The boy who shows Elmo the school computers demonstrates clicking the mouse and mentions that playing games on the computer is an option, too.  Schools are obvious centers for learning to children, so pointing out computers in school aids children to quickly establish a connection between computers and knowledge.

I did not notice a connection between computers and literacy though.  The children who watch Sesame Street are learning their alphabet, letters, shapes, and colors and are not likely to know what a keyboard is for, what an icon is, or why everyone laughed when the librarian said computers are ENTERtaining.  The computer screens in the show displayed first a geometric smiling face, similar to the icon of a popular reading program in elementary schools, and the second displayed colorful shapes.  No one mentioned what you can use a computer for other than games.  Though it was brief and relatively uninformative I feel it was a good place to start the introduction of computers to children.

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