Thursday, April 19, 2012

Media and Technology Critique

Teaching is no mere task of presenting written works, helping students understand their value and purpose or creating exams which test students’ ability to memorize new vocabulary.  Teaching is the ongoing process of expanding an individuals mind through inspirational means of presentation.  As teachers, we must lead and introduce new ideas and methods of learning and practicing.  During our current time of technological progress, we must learn to adapt to our technological environment in order to successfully educate the media centered generation.
      Mass media has produced a generation of beings who are constantly fed new ideas and concepts without conscious realization.  According to the Digital Media Literacy quiz created by PBS teachers, in 2009, students between the ages of 8 and 18 spent an average of 10 hours and 45 minutes a day on all forms of media.  Teachers clearly have become limited to what they can control in their students choice of “academic” resources.  Instead of focusing on rejecting the use of media and experiencing failure with teaching, educators can strategically incorporate the most powerful tools for feeding students with information into their repertoire. 
     Of the many forms of media (television, video games, films…) social networking sites appear to be most useful in aiding the transition of academic learning through means of media.  Facebook, for example was initially intended and created for and by elite university students.  It served as a platform to share, comment, and expose information among peers.  Facebook has now become one of the world’s leading social networking websites for its innovative style of networking.  It gives individuals the power to express themselves the way they want to be seen, and attracts curiosity with each new update. 
     Facebook can therefore be a great tool for keeping students interested, engaged and on task.  It is much easier to connect to your students with something they already use.  Many teachers try to use platforms such as tumblr or epsilon to create a media centered component to their class.  The problem with this, however, is that students end up creating an account for a site they will probably never use again.   Logging-in to the site would feel like a requirement and tedious task.  Instead of attempting to use more professional platforms, teachers can use the site on which students are most often.  By doing so, students will be more likely to visit the class/group page created for the class or course since they are already logged on and it is being filtered through their “newsfeed”. 
     Teachers can easily post the days homework, this way students cannot create excuses such as “I didn’t hear it”.  Teachers can continue class discussions online, while introducing students to additional sources to help their studies such as videos and interactive websites.  Students can become familiar with their class peers [allowing students to build stronger friendships].  Finally, students and teachers can discuss making conscious decisions about the information they make public, or what they make available to some circles but not others
     Though heavily centered for social networking, a site like Facebook can become an educational tool.  Opposition to using such tools for an educational purpose is natural, however adapting to changing environments is logical.  Teachers need not reject the new trends of their students but embrace them.  Creating a personal connection or reference to class or lesson is the secret of learning.  Social networking websites have the ability to create such connection on a local and global scale.

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