Last week, Dr. Alec Couros, a professor at the University of Regina, graced us with a lecture on online presence in our online Education Technology 300 class. We also watched a video by anthropologist, Michael Wesch, discussing the evolution of YouTube: An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube. YouTube is a website for uploading and watching videos. Both lectures made me consider the art of collaboration, and how this has grown and expanded since the age of the Internet. For example, producer and actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has created a website to allow for film producers to share content, freely, around the world. The website is called Hit Record, and it is absolutely worth exploring. To me, this is a great example of what’s made possible by the Internet.
The discussion with Alec was really interesting to me because it made me consider how children these days see the world. Because of how I was raised, I see the Internet as a place that can be turned off (whether this be the case or not). However, something that Alec brought to my attention is that technology and the Internet is such an integral part of student’s lives now that they would see it less as something that can and should be turned off, but as something that is very much a part of their life.
This means that they use it to research, learn, play, communicate, record, and document. Wesch brought to my attention the importance and evolution of Youtube. Youtube has become a way to communicate and share all over the world. Wesch highlighted the positives of Youtube that include: creating communities, expressing yourself, and enjoying life more. Youtube is probably the platform I use the least in my life, out of all the popular social websites, however I think I’ll be changing that in the future.
New Culture of Participation
Alec discussed in the lecture presented for our Educational Technology 300 class that we are educating the “selfie generation”. However… This means so much more than selfies, doesn’t it? This means that the next generation actually communicates differently than we do. In my opinion, every generation has disrupted the habits and lifestyle of the generation before them. As teachers, we should be here to encourage the progression and facilitate the appropriate way to embrace the change! As Alec stated, we need to learn about technology through the children, “it’s a really interesting contrast to what we knew when we were younger”.
What does a “new culture of participation” mean? Well, this means that students will actually prefer to communicate and possibly work in different ways than we have experienced. Sending photos instead of texts, videos instead of emails, or gifs instead of responses is only the beginning.
What Does This Mean For My Future Classroom, and Schools?
What this means for our students is that they are communicating with the outside world at a very early age and creating a digital footprint. For my classroom, this means that kids could be creating content inside and outside of school that is accessible world wide, something they might not completely be aware of. Alec’s daughter, who looked like she was less than six years old, was making makeup tutorials on her parent’s phone. For a six year old to even know what a tutorial is blows my mind, let alone make one accurately. But if you ask anyone over the age of seven whom their favourite YouTuber is, I know they’ll have an answer for you.
I’m reminded of my own elementary experience when I think of these situations. When I was in kindergarten we had one computer, and one computer game. For the whole year my teacher was going to allot a student to play on the computer game for one time slot every Friday. Her plan was to allow for every student to have at least one turn. I lied and told her that I had already played the game because I was nervous I wouldn’t know how… Would this reaction ever occur today or are students almost bred to understand technologies designed for them?
Wesch argues that a platform like Youtube gives users the opportunity to share so much more and add things to the art of creation like they wouldn’t have done before. He gives the example of recreating a popular song in the comfort of listener’s homes. This experience allows people to create and enjoy themselves, while still being a “regular human” outside of the Internet. As mentioned above, YouTube has created international “cyber stars”, which actually disrupts the traditional perspective of fame. As of right now, almost anyone can go viral if they have a funny video, wifi access, and a hint of luck.
This form of community is not only for kids and fame-seekers, however. My father, whom has never owned a cell-phone and doesn’t know what “wifi” is, checks the computer for two things:
1) His email
2) Volvo lover’s blog
Below is a photo of us in the Volvo he worked on for me: an 1989 Blue 240, great car.
The blog he found for his true love, retro Volvo’s, is something that brings my 68 year old father into a community he would have otherwise been excluded from. This is significant for every industry, especially teaching. Teachers can share resources and experiences more efficiently with the Internet, and we can find communities that we wouldn’t have been able to before. For schools this means bigger and better things, but it also means we need to be aware of how we’re teaching our students to represent themselves online. Students (and teacher’s, for that matter) might not be aware of seriousness of publishing online, and bringing in digital citizenship to the classroom should be part of the job of the teacher.
Wesch’s lecture was significant to me because I remember growing up in the age of YouTube. The first video my family ever watched was of a man urinating off the roof of his house, a hose obviously doing most of the theatrics. We thought it was hilarious. My sister even showed my cousin, who’s mother called mine and told her it was inappropriate to be watching this.
I wasn’t old enough at the time to understand the significance of YouTube, but later in life I started an online blog with my best friend. We made funny videos and publicized them online for the world to see. People from all over would message us comments and requests, and for a short time we took our new online roles very seriously. It was a great way for us to explore and be recognized for our creativity, however we were unaware of the permanence of our creations.
Take Advantage of the Good and Deal With Negatives
As stated above, we can take advantage of the “good” of the Internet by using it as a tool to teach, explore, and express. However, there are danger zones of this beautiful new platform. Something to consider is: what is taken away by technology in general? In some ways, we could argue that we are missing out on “real life moments” because of our ‘addiction’ to our smartphones and computers. A balance is key of course, but who is regulating us?
Another point I’d like to discuss is our freedom of choice and thought, influenced by technology. If a Facebook algorithm (for example) can find our interests and cater what we see by what we’d be interested in, could they do the same thing for news and advertisements? Of course they can, and I’m sure they do. This isn’t the worst thing, you might think, because you only really want to read about what you like… However, what if you never hear the other side of the story? This is a dangerous aspect of the Internet, and it limits our freedom of choice in opinion, because we may be seeing what we think is popular opinion, whereas it’s only popularized for our demographic.