By Jarrett Ireland, Karen Fisher and Nick Nelson

Communication And Development Desk Study: Twitter as a Political Tool in the Middle East


Weekly response 6 REVISED

After reading both “The Digital Natives Debate” and the article, “What Students Don’t Know” I found myself questioning the way that I do research. I fall into the categories that define the “digital native” and my research methods reflect some of what was discussed in the other article. I think that I am a little more competent as a researcher as those discussed in “What Students Don’t Know”. In elementary school, my class visited the library once a week for five years. We learned how to use both a card catalog and a computer based catalog to find books that we were looking for. Only a few students actually soaked up this knowledge, and I happened to be one. Throughout middle school and junior high my schools did workshops or classes on research skills, the class would walk to the library for the day and given a fake research idea to work through with help from the teacher and librarian. Once again, it seemed that only a few of us would actually get anything out of this.
Today, I utilize the library and occasionally consult with a librarian. I often use Temple’s “chat with a librarian function”. The first time i used it, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the librarians millions of questions in response to my question about which database to use. Other interactions with librarians at this school has proved again and again one thing: they are desperate and bored. They are completely willing to jump on board and help you with anything, zip around the library, pull out books, research online articles- they like doing homework! Its a little intimidating but incredibly helpful.
If these lovely librarians are so willing to help, why is it that they are usually staring at their computers, bored behind their circular desk? Because the library has become a computer lab, or a place with nice chairs to sit in while you work on you laptop, or in some increasingly rare instances, a place for silent study.
When i look around at these students who are barely utilizing the library, I realize that these are grown up versions of the kids in my elementary and middle school classes who completed the research workshops but retained none of the information or skills. When i think about why that might be, I realize that it may be a direct impact of their digital native mindset. When you show these kids a library, a database or a book, they’ll complete the educational assignment but scoff it in their mind, the same way someone might smile and nod at someone teaching them the card catalog but in the end completely ignore it because to most people this catalog method has become obsolete.  To these digital natives, everything is immediately obsolete. Its just the world that we live in. When they see books they know that it takes at least year to get a work published, and that much more updated information can be found with a simple google search.
So, they Google on! And most professors have no way of knowing nor time to care- after reading a ten page paper who has time to pick through the works cited? For this reason people with no research skills  float right on by, tuned into their laptops.

Week Five Response


Read Renee’s scholarly article, “Multiple Visions of Multimedia Literacy” and Alice Robison’s “New Media Literacies by Design.” THEN watch the PBS video “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century”

After watching, compose a blog entry that explores 3 – 5 key ideas presented in the film. Take careful notes of key phrases in the film. Which of the programs featured in the video was most interesting to you? What were the most exciting and compelling moments of the video? What aspects of this approach to learning seem troubling, unrealistic or difficult? How likely is it that these approaches to education reform will become normative in our society in the coming years? What might be some potential positive and negative consequences to these new approaches to learning? What questions are raised by or left unanswered by the video?

Use at least 3 hyperlinks in your blog and select an appropriate image to match the main ideas that you explore in your writing.

DUE: October 6

Charlieissocoollike- Challenge: Hoedown Throwdown


Most people have a favorite video blogger, and YouTube has brought many to fame. This young man is one of my favorites because he’s so charming.The author of this video is Charlie, a teenager from England who has become relatively well known and has passed the 1 Million “subscriber” mark on his YouTube Channel “charlieissocoollike”. The purpose of this video is the same as every other personal YouTube channel- to get more views on the video to generate revenue (partnered YouTube channels earn money based on how many views videos get) and to increase subscribers. Charlie uses a quirky-funny approach to gain attention in the beginning, but you can only have your attention grabbed if you’re watching it. Most people don’t think about it, but YouTube stars put a lot of thought into their titles. “Challenge: Hoedown Throwdown” represents two factors- firstly, the challenge trend that was sweeping YouTube at the time where viewers challenge  the star to do crazy thing. Using a fad of the time attracted attention, as did name-dropping the “Hoedown Throwdown” the name of a Hannah Montana dance that most are familiar with, whether or not they’ve seen the movie.  This video represents the lifestyle of someone who lives vicariously through their computer and encourages others to do the same by becoming a subscriber. It would be difficult to interpret the message differently as this video is in fact quite pointless, though entertaining.  Ommited from the message is the typical begging for subscribers- something that was probably carefully planned to make him seem like an experienced and uncaring vlogger concerned more with his viewers than with himself. Though these vlog-type videos are made by amateurs, they still represent unique marketing tactics that one might not see when watching the video for entertainment.

Literacy as a Social Practice

“The individual instantiates, gives body to, a discourse every time he acts or speaks and thus carries it, and ultimately changes it, through time. Americans tend to be very focused on the individual, and thus often miss the fact that the individual is simply the meeting point of many, sometimes conflicting, socially and historically defined discourses.”
(Gee, 1991: 3)
In his essay “What is Literacy?” James Paul Gee shows how discourse functions as a vital tool of literacy. In the above quote, Gee makes a compelling claim- that each individual as a member of a discourse (or a participator in a way of thinking, speaking and understanding that is shared by a group based on similarities in their experience) is reflecting his or her discourse virtually every time he or she acts or speaks. Since literacy is achieved through and in terms of an individuals identification with a discourse, it is interesting that a persons communications (which are a sign that a person is literate) act to change the very discourse that they learned to communicate through. In a sense, every member of a discourse changes the discourse for future members, changing the way that these future members will become literate until they communicate and continue on the cycle.
“Customized curricula in school should not just be about self pacing, but about real intersections between the curriculum and the learner’s interests, desires and styles.”
(Gee, 2005: 35)
This quote comes from another essay by Gee entitled “Good Games and Good Learning” in which Gee discusses the principles of learning that can be found in video games. This particular quote falls under Gee’s 5th learning principle: customization, and states that what a student learns should be directly related  to what he or she is interested in. I think this idea is important because it makes learning into a conversation between the curriculum and and the student, with both parties constantly changing and  responding to one another.

“Throughout the country, young people were logging in, creating elaborate profiles, publicly articulating their relationships with other participants, and writing extensive comments back and forth. By early 2006, many considered participation on the key social network site, MySpace, essential to being seen as cool at school. ”
(Boyd, 2007: 1)
In this quote from Danah Boyd’s work entitled “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life,” Boyd explains that by 2006, it was socially unacceptable for young people to not have and operate a Myspace page. This demonstrates media literacy as a social practice perfectly. In order to be “cool” youth must be computer and internet literate enough to operate their own profile and participate in other peoples Myspace profiles. Youth society demands that a youth has these skills in order to be accepted socially.

“MySpace accidentally left open a technological loophole and their forms accepted (and then rendered) HTML and CSS code. Capitalizing on this loophole, participants can modify the look and feel of their profiles.”
(Boyd, 2007: 6)
Here Boyd tells how a mistake on Myspace’s creators part led to a new way for users to express themselves, through using HTML and CSS to design their profile the way they liked. In order to have the “coolest” profile, teens began to explore their internet literacy and learn to use code to achieve something that would impress their peers. Social pressures motivated Myspace users to learn something that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

A negative impact of social pressures on the development of literacy? Thats 4 u 2 decide.

“Friendster implemented this feature to encourage people to write testimonials about their friends for strangers to read…. Over time, reciprocity motivated people to write creative testimonials back and forth, creating a form of conversation…”
(Boyd, 2007: 7)
In this quote, Boyd tells about the original intention of the public comment section- facts about the owner of the profile so that strangers would know about them- and the transformation that occurred, making the comments section a place to have conversations. Social pressures motivated people to be more creative, to write bigger and better- because everyone can see it. Interestingly enough, I think that this social phenomena may have simultaneously contributed  to decay of literacy. Personally, I remember a time when it was cool to not fully spell out words and ignore grammar, encouraged by the public comments section and the youth view of “the cool way to type”.

The essay that I found most interesting was Dannah Boyd’s “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life”. For this reason, I looked at the works cited of that essay for the next portion of this assignment. The first one that caught my eye was a “Parent and Teen Survey” taken by  the PEW Internet and American Life Project. I googled the title and organization and was directed to the most recent Parent and Teen Survey, taken in 2009. It took some unsuccessful searches and a bit of frustrated clicking around to find the “Data Sets” section. Here i had to scroll through four pages to get back to data taken in 2004, the data used by Boyd in this essay.

The data is taken from two groups, parents in general as one group, and parents of “online teens” as another. The data shows that more than 4 out of 5 parents from each group go on a computer at least on an occasional basis and use the internet to send and receive email. The survey covers a variety of areas, asking questions like, “are there rules about when or for how long [your] child can go online…” and asks about opinions on the impact the internet has on todays children. This source was a lengthy but interesting read, and I noticed that the fact use by Boyd was from one of the beginning questions- which made me wonder if Boyd herself read as much as I did to complete this part of the assignment.