There were so many varying topics of discussion raised this week, that I had a difficult time choosing which to include in my #f5f. I tried my best to condense and reflect upon this week!
1. I found myself in agreement with Amy M. when she wrote on her blog, “it was chaos. I felt my eyes trying to follow too many conversations or I was in a circle of friends and 3 people where talking about elephants and 4 people where talking about africa. Twitter chat has too many dimensions for me,” in reference to the Twitter chat that took place on Wednesday night. I appreciate Twitter for its utility as a platform for social change and expression, but as far as virtual group discussions are concerned, I think that Google Hangout with instant messaging is a far easier , more efficient, and maybe most importantly, less stressful, than a group Twitter chat.
2. Although I found the Twitter chat in and of itself to be a bit impractical (at least until I get the hang of things), I did find the format of the night’s discussion very interesting and refreshing. Joe Dillon, a #techquity contributor, suggested that we write our responses to various excerpts in a “I believe….” And “I doubt…” format. This was first practiced by Peter Elbow, whom, as it turns out, is an English professor at UMass Amherst and was a pioneer in the “free-writing” style. I think we are often drawn towards our differences of opinion as opposed to our common ground. This is a format that I could see using with students in the future.
3. A blog post that stood out and struck a chord with me this week, was Eric’s post titled, “Exasperated Inspiration.” I think that is how many educators, particularly within the Philadelphia public school system, feel on a daily basis (minus the inspiration piece, unfortunately). He discusses a speech given by Mayor Nutter, in which the mayor addresses the connection between economic, racial, and other entrenched social problems with a lack of access to quality public education. He quotes several lines from the mayor’s speech, which I found to be very honest and thought-provoking:
“But underfunded schools and the perpetual crisis at the school district, the mayor says, feeds into the deepest chronic challenges for his successor – whoever it is. ‘Education and funding, poverty and the epidemic of violence effecting young men and boys of color. These challenges are long term, they are deeply rooted, they are connected,’” said Mayor Nutter.”
This article can be found via the link below:
So often the issue of education is brought up as a political promise, but so infrequently is it addressed in a meaningful way. I think it is important that the mayor included this pressing issue in his speech, but when will American society, as a whole, come to realize the tremendous value that good public education holds in solving, or at least lessening, so many of the social problems we face. Thank you for sharing this with us, Eric!
4. While the organization of the chat wasn’t the most inspiring (not that I have any right to judge based off of our less than smooth-sailing Twitter chat on Wednesday!), it did bring up several topics of interest for me. Foremost among these were the societal divide that is being further widened by the “technological revolution.” Is this “revolution” giving an unfair advantage to students who have means or the access to computers and iPads and smartphones.
Furthermore, is the connected learning movement, meant to bring people together and make education more equitable, actually separating us further because many people still lack reliable access to technology. Where is the equity in that?
The idea of uniting learners in shared communities is commendable so long as we have rationalized the fact that many learners will be excluded for a lack of access to technology. The question for me is not how we motivate people to become participants in online communities – as I and many of my family, friends, and acquaintances have – but how we provide practical and productive access to everyone. Connection via the Internet and the educational opportunities created when people come together virtually, can only be equitable is everyone is given fair access.
As one article discussed, many young people have access to mobile phones, but how do we translate that to digital literacy that goes beyond text messaging and Instagramming? How do we promote online, peer centered and production-oriented communities using only cellphones? And why should people engage in the first place once given the access and the means? It seems to be a matter of means first, motive second (a call to action, why should people get involved?), followed by participation and productive change. How do we combine all of these elements to make connected learning truly equitable? Just a few thoughts that I will continue to consider as we move forward….
5. And lastly, I want to mention my first experience annotating an article on Genius.com. Initially, I was completely confused by the entire concept. You post a piece of writing, and then what? After doing a bit more research, I began to understand that it is a forum for posting pieces that are of interest to you or tap into your unique knowledge or expertise, and creating annotations, or basically comments, that note the social or historical significance, meaning, or cultural impact of that piece. I posted my chosen article, titled, “What the US Could Learn from Finland About Education” by Samuel E. Abrams, with 6 or so annotations, and I was shocked to find that the article has 55 views! This may not seem like much to contributor’s who have millions of viewers, but for me – a connected learning and social media newbie – it felt like a huge accomplishment that my thoughts were suddenly accessible to feedback and criticism. A definite must for those of you who have yet to try it!!