These past few days I have started to feel a bit overwhelmed with all that I want to write about, and with the encouragement of my professor I think it is wise to take a step back and reflect on how things are going in general.
I started this semester reading David Buckingham's Media Education, a book that I feel is extremely important for anyone interested in teaching and learning in today's digitally saturated world (see my whole review). Perhaps the most significant point I learned is the importance of understanding that children are "growing up" much faster merely due to the fact that information is so ubiquitous. It is essential that teachers and parents not only recognize this fact, but take active measures to utilize the situation for the benefit of the children. Media and technology literacy should be at the forefront of our education system, and if it isn't then students will learn those skills in other ways that may lead them down a less healthy road. After reading this book I realized that knowing principles such as how to connect, create, and consume in an informed way on the Internet will become increasingly more important. We need to start teaching this now.
About a month or so ago I had the chance to read The Odyssey. It was my first time reading Homer's classic, though I have heard the story before. As I read I thought about how the ancient story carried with it specific themes that we may consider to be elements of digital culture (see my past post about masks). I really enjoyed looking for these themes, and connecting the literature to concepts like identity, exploration, and self-control was revealing as I came to realize that many of the seemingly new issues of the information age are really as old as civilized society.
In thinking about the movie clip database, and more recently educational badges, I have learned to take a large initiative in my personal learning. I have learned and started to actively use Diigo, Google Sites, Twitter, Google Reader, and Google+ among other networks and tools. These platforms have lead me to enormous vaults of knowledge and helpful opportunities for progress and feedback.
So far the experience with these new platforms and concepts have been greatly supported by my classmates. We have been interacting on Google+ and I have found that receiving just a small degree of social proof has had a remarkable impact on my motivation and ability to accomplish things. In addition to the sense of encouragement I have received, I have been exposed to some really interesting and helpful ideas. My classmates are doing incredible things, and at times I feel a bit inadequate when I make the mistake of comparing my progress to theirs.
Perhaps the most intriguing concepts I have found so far in this experience is that there really is a digital culture both online and all around us. By jumping onto these different platforms I have started meeting people and having conversations I thought I wouldn't be having for another 10 years! It is remarkable what a little initiative and activity can accomplish these days. There are so many things I am interested in, and I have been especially excited by how in general people online and experts in fields like media literacy and education are kind and positive. I am probably getting ahead of myself and the process, but I want to turn some of my somewhat abstract ideas into concrete products. I also want to learn how to better manage my online presence so that I am more consistent and less spastic when it comes to my online activity.
Anyway, this has been a somewhat brief but much needed reflection on my experiences so far with these projects and in my digital culture class at BYU. Look for more posts soon about the badge project (we still need to find a good name for this) !