Always changing, always accessable, and everyone can have a voice.. the new ways of the web.
An aspect of Alec’s classrom teaching during our May 25th class that interested me was his statement surrounding content and how easily accessable and ubelievably wide spread the information is that we can connect with. Also stating that it can be viewed as less valuable, which is a statement I truly believe a lot of learners, of every age category can relate to.
We live in an age where we do not have to work as hard to access information, a library? I have a feeling some people haven’t stepped foot in one for research, maybe for pleasure, but not necessarily to learn or teach themselves. Why? Because the world wide web has become our virtual library, museum, and think tank.. all accessable from our smartphones, tablets/IPads, or computers. Since there is no longer the uncertainty of “Will this book be rented out? I have to race to the library before anyone else can” the desire to learn immediately has been lost my many, turning what is valuable knowledge into “Ah, I’ll just look it up later. It doesn’t really matter right now.” As terrifying as that is to me, as a future English educator, I think it is also so important to acknowledge the negatives of such an incredible technological invention. Many students and adults are relying on spellcheck instead of finding a dictionary, our memoy boxes are being filled with social media and false information, instead of soaking in the mass knowledge that is at our fingertips. I am not above this, I can admit I have only gone to a library for pleasure and for a quiet environment, I too am filling my memory box with words, pictures, memes, and silly videos instead of history, culture, science, or art. I think it would be rare to find someone who is only utilizing the world wide web for the access to information that 50 years ago people could never imagine getting their hands on. And if you are out there, I applaud you.
But as educator’s we need to help guide our students into a balance, showing them the value in learning, growing, and utilizing the tool that they may only know as another port to their social lives. We have to lead by example and help guide our students through the many distractions of the internet in order for them to grow their brains in a positive and self-driven way. As Alec stated, we have to help students go beyond the first page, find what is true versus what is false, and prepare them to navigate through mass spread of information in a good way.
That being said, the web has far more positives than it does negatives. As educators, it opens up our abilities to meet the needs of learners in the classroom. Utilizing YouTube to meet our visual learners, accessing topics that interest our students, and bringing the news and culture of the world to the classroom. All of this at the tips of our fingers! Not only the access to content, but as Michael Wesch implied, it has and continues to focus on connecting people from all aspects of the world. How great for us and our students? We no longer have to live in the comfort of our own 4 walled classroom, we can connect with educators, classrooms, and schools down the street, across the country, or across the world. Bringing real life people into understanding and sharing information about culture, priviledge, and news opens the door for students and teachers alike to open their mind and to become empathetic and true activists in training. It is one thing to bring the information to your students, it is another thing for them to see it occur and to hear from people living and experiencing it.
With utilizing the web we can grow professionally with help from people all around the world, something I experienced through #SaskEdChat. But how encouraging is it to know that there are opportunities beyond Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets? Such as School World (link) that connects educators around the world to participate in different projects that opens up classrooms, cultures, and allows for students and teachers to learn in an authentic way. Or Teachers2Teachers (link) that are currently in the process of creating a program within their organization that will connect and monitor teacher’s as they interact in designated meetings from different countries around the world, to grow professionally and expand their pedagogy. These are two organizations I highly reccomend looking into if you are passionate about global education and bringing culture into your classroom.
The last point that Alec brought up during class that struck me, was the question: why teach when programs are out there designed to teach the same infromation at our fingertips?
This reminded me of the saying, you can show a horse to the water but you cannot force it to drink. I believe students and teachers can utilize the web to further their learning, but it is our job as educators to show our students the pathway to get there, the basics of telling truth from fib, security, and ultimately the importance of lifelong learning and how the web can play a part in their journey. We can and should show our students this information, but it will be their job to use the tools for the rest of their lives.