During this post I will look at material that is relevant to the second of my three sections for the main content of my work. This post shall focus on the following:

The practice of searching for information and reading texts.

  • The surge of video tutorials and entertainment platforms such as YouTube as a learning environment.
  • The changing habits of intercepting information, from chronologically reading a book to skipping between links.
  • Participatory culture and its effect on creativity, self-learning and autonomy.

This animated video gives a very good insight into the habits of younger generations of students and ultimately the way their immersion with digital technology has a profound effect on how they learn best, and how they will have a differing experience to that of older generations.

“I will not take out a pencil or open a textbook; you grew up with books, I read from a laptop, an iPad, a smartphone. I use a keyboard more than a pen; I am a digital native.” (Blackboard Inc 2010: 0.07 – 0.22).

This quote in many ways points to the obvious, but none the less it is true, and therefore something that should not be ignored in relation to education and learning. Furthermore, the video reveals some very surprising facts regarding digital natives and their preferences that really represents the significance of these platforms in their lives.

The video argues that by carrying a laptop/tablet/phone over a textbook gives us an abundance of instantaneous information, and to learn we should utilise these tools that are all harnessed together by the Internet across a wide spread of multimedia. It puts forth the notion that students’ ambition and desire to learn can and should spread further than the classroom, even making a point that the class is not enough when these platforms provide so much more valuable information.

The video states that 78% of students say electronics help improve their grades and get them more involved in education. Whilst the latter may be very measurable, the former is not really built upon any authoritative fact, but rather opinion (in the way it is expressed at least). However the idea that it gets students more involved is a good argument and relates well to Jenkins research that found students had a richer learning experience outside of school. Therefore this does provide some evidence to strongly suggest that the inclusion of digital technology in the education system could have great benefit in terms of the students passion, involvement, motivation and satisfaction.

The video does put forth the idea that we should accept that students would be greatly benefited by the inclusion of technology in relation to education and teaching. However it suggests that this idea is one without flaw and that it should be whole heartedly accepted that it is for the better of students learning experience. It fails to really bring up issues that are involved with this notion and so it does lose some credibility in that respect. Having said this, the basic view that the video is based on and the notion it encourages is one which is very true in many ways and could have very positive effects, and for this reason it does have good value towards my research.

In terms of the second point (The changing habits of intercepting information, from chronologically reading a book to skipping between links) much of the work I have looked at with Bush, Nelson and Carr is very applicable in this sense and for this section I will refer to a lot of their work. I think it could be very beneficial for this section to look at some of Espen Aarseth’s work and to consider the notions of ergodic literature and the effects tmesis has on learning as both of these have implications online in comparison to a book. For example when researching online the user can feel a strong sense of tmesis where they feel they have missed potential material. This is in many ways inevitable due to the structure of a hypertext as unlike a book there is no chronological order. So on one hand you could argue that the Internet provides us with a rich and diverse pool of material whilst on the other hand it could be said that we are in fact uncontrollably skipping important information and merely browsing, as Carr argues, the shallows of information.

In this video Jenkins comments that his grad students who interviewed high school children found in most cases that those pupils felt that they had a richer and more creative life outside of school. The study found that the things they learnt and the things they had a passion for were explored in their own time away from the classroom. Jenkins makes an argument for the avocation of infusing elements of this into education and believes that teaching should aim towards considering different techniques that are more open minded with the future in mind. Jenkins stated that students are in most cases omitted from the possibility of introducing participatory culture. He states that there are strict guidelines that form boundaries about the way education is delivered and because of that, aspects of new media are not looked upon as a solid solution to improving education

In response to this, of course it could be the case that students in their own time enjoy the things they involve themselves in, and what they learn and have a passion for. It could be strongly argued that the interests these students partake in are trivial and not in any way related to that of education. However I think Jenkins is very accurate in saying that education has strict rules about the content and structure of teaching and this can make it hard for participatory culture and elements of new media to be given an opportunity. However I do feel that often the teaching system in school is in some respect out dated and does not truly reflect the needs or requirements of students who live in a society that immerses itself in technology and media.

Participatory culture as Jenkins identifies encourages common interests, peer reviewing, confidence in improving ones interests and abilities, an improving in evaluative skills, problem solving and communication. At this point it would be helpful to mention Matt Hills (2002) who supports this notion in the first chapter of his book, Fan Cultures in which he argues that the difference in writing fan fiction and analysing a particular text are not all that different in the underlying skills they encourage to develop. He argues that the presuppositions that arise from both activities are closely related. Both analysing a text and producing fan fiction inspire further creativity that requires a strong evaluative understanding and the ability to closely examine that text through an understanding of symbolic theory. Moreover, the individual has to determine whether the text itself is worthy of further consideration and this demonstrates analytical thinking in order to judge how that initial text can be influential to that persons own interests.

References

Blackboard Inc. (2010) The Voice of the Active Learner. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ5Vy9BgSeY [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Jenkins, H. (2013) ‘Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture and Media Education (Big Thinkers Series)’ [online] Edutopia. Available at: http://www.edutopia.org/henry-jenkins-participatory-culture-video [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Aarseth, E. (1997) Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Hills, M. (2002) Fan Cultures. London: Routledge.

 

 

 

 

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