Presentation Website: Annie Squared
Upon the first reading of the 3 pieces, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I didn’t necessarily agree with the instant gratification of the internet and how we don’t really need to store anything in our minds because we have technology to store everything for us. I tried reading them through multiple perspectives. The first read I was the skeptic, the second read I took everything at face value, the third read I exaggerated everything, and I just tried different voices and attitudes. Sounds crazy, I know, but it helped. One of the things I have been trying to do is keep an open mind about what technology is and how it can be used in the world. Not how it should be used, but its possibilities. So after much scrutinizing and processing, here are my reflections for each individual piece…
[AB]: My initial thoughts were the same as Annie K’s. I remember that when we approached each other after reading the essays overnight, both of our first reactions were of frustration and skepticism. We both seemed to be thinking, “Interesting reads, but not sure I buy it…” I love the instant access of information the Internet provides, but do not view it with the same level of optimism as Diamandis and DiBona, and am cautious of the great expectations Hood has.
1. “Instant Gratification” by Peter H. Diamandis (p. 214-215)
QUOTES THAT SAYS IT ALL:
“Instant and very unexpected gratification.”
“Ask and you shall receive.”
“How many times do I wonder about something and then let it drop?”
“I’m realizing that even complex questions can be answered.”
[AK]: How many times do I use technology to satiate my need for instant information? I google everything whether on my laptop or my smartphone. I feel as though I live in a time when knowledge and understanding is everything. There is no excuse to not know. You can always get back to someone with the answer, but there are no excuses for not knowing. Diamandis paints a picture for us that technology allows us to access point we never had access to. We can do it in an instant. Don’t know something? Google it or tweet it and you’ll get an answer, or multiple answers, from another corner of the earth. How phenomenal is that? But the teacher in my brain took over and started questioning everything. I realized that I had to change the way I teach and the way I ask questions. Knowledge cannot be assessed just by what you know, but really about what you understand. We can all regurgitate information found online, no problem. But how much of that is truly understood and could be used to scaffold to other areas? We need to teach our students the process first. Most of us who grew up with significantly less technology learned to develop higher order thinking skills and can therefore apply it to technology and our searches. We need to teach our students how to do just that. These students today have never been thought how to use technology and align it with their lives. They have just reacted to technology and its time we changed that.
[AB]: Diamandis has a lot of confidence in the knowledge within the Internet. He seems to view it as an end-all-be-all of information. It is all there at our fingertips and we don’t need to put nearly any effort in to access it. But one of my thoughts while re-reading his essay for the 5th or 6th time for this project was to notice that he is a Chairman and CEO of a foundation. To me this implies that he has probably had a pretty good education, and has already mastered the skills of critical thinking, evaluating reliable sources, and higher-order thinking. Our students haven’t yet done this. My concern as a teacher is that this “instant gratification,” if taken too far in the real world, will have a hugely negative impact on the next generations’ abilities to hone those necessary skills. Information may be going online, but we still need critical thinkers and innovators. How will we help students become the voices of their own future if they cannot think for themselves? How do we create lifelong learners if students think all learning can be done with the click of a button?
2. “Ephemera and Back Again” by Chris DiBona(p. 224-227)
QUOTES THAT SAYS IT ALL:
“I’ve come to think I should memorize things more for the health of my brain rather than for any real practical need to know”
“Some would equate this sort of information pruning to a kind of reinforced and embraced ignorance or evidence of an empty life.”
“People who wallow in ignorance are no different online than off.”
[AK]: The DiBona piece was the most difficult for me to not challenge, mainly because I don’t agree entirely with his notion of freedom of the mind from storing information. I can appreciate that he would rather exert himself to more meaningful activities than to memorize useless information, but I don’t think that our memory can topple over. Its not like we have a full line. While reading this I felt sad for him. I felt like he would be fine with experiencing life from behind a screen. I think what got me most was about not needing to take pictures during travels because he could relive his experiences through better pictures found online. That makes me sad for him to be able to replace his experiences with others. Its practical, yes, maybe too practical. I understand what DiBona is talking about in terms of living in ignorance. It is easy for people to live in ignorance today. We can completely surround ourselves with people who think like we do. Read from certain papers, listen to certain news stations, etc. Technology doesn’t make much difference in how people choose to live. All in all, DiBona’s piece reminded me that we need to teach our students to think critically and to entertain different thoughts. They should be able to understand different mindsets and ideals when forming their own opinions. Students should also find comfort in the fact that there is someone out there that shares their thought in one way or another. I also think that teachers need to teach, explain, and demonstrate high order thinking skills and make sure that their students learn how to do that both in person and on the computer.
[AB]: I saw a lot of similarities between DiBona and Diamandis. DiBona, like Diamandis, believes that there is a benefit in the easy access of information. He can now focus his energies and brainpower on what matters most to him. But, like Diamandis, I couldn’t help but notice that he likely already had an education that has provided him with crucial skills needed for critical thinking and evaluating. The reason I make this guess is that I noticed he works for Google. No wonder he is so positive towards the knowledge provided by the Internet—he works for the company that is synonymous with searching for knowledge and “instant gratification.” This isn’t a negative, but it puts his opinion into perspective for me a bit.
I agree that it is wonderful to be able to look up superficial knowledge quickly. I remember owning one of those giant books that had (presumably) every movie ever made listed in it, and using it to find limited random information. But now, we have IMDB! And it links to other sites with more superficial knowledge! And that is great. But I draw a line between that, and true depth of knowledge. I agree that we don’t need to know every fact in the world, but there are some things that I just feel are important no matter what technology is available—critical thinking, higher-order thinking, evaluating facts and sources, and creative thinking. If I, as a teacher, allow myself to sign my students’ futures over to the shallow and superficial knowledge provided by basic Internet searches, I think I am doing an injustice to my students. That would be allowing them to comfortably live their lives in ignorance, as Annie K. discussed above. I can do better than that. DiBona argues that the Internet does not create ignorance, but rather that ignorant people are such both on and offline. This may be true, to some degree, but isn’t that where education comes in?
3. “I Can Make a Difference Because of the Internet” by Bruce Hood (p. 260-261)
QUOTES THAT SAYS IT ALL:
“Most humans have a concept of self constructed in terms of how we think we’re perceived by those around us, and the Internet has made that preoccupation trivially easy.”
“The Internet has also made me aware of both my insignificance and my power.”
“But insignificant individuals can make a significant difference when they coalesce around a cause.”
“The Internet empowers the individual. I can make a difference because of the Internet.”
[AK]: Of the three pieces, this is my favorite and it ties everything up very nicely. Working with adolescents who think that everything is about them, the Internet plays a major role in their lives. A student’s high school years also happen to be the most formative years in terms of technology use and habits. When I see all the facebook, twitter, and insta-gram posts from students, I wonder what must be going through their minds and how they are not only wasting their potential, but also losing credibility by some of the choices they make. High school is the time that teacher need to stress digital citizenship. They need to know how much power the internet gives them and work to make a difference instead of adding to the problem. Students need to feel empowered that they can do something. Don’t we expect most high school students to act and be adults? But they aren’t. They need more and what they need it to know that they matter, that they are significant, that they can make a difference. What do most high school students hear? No. It is time to tell them yes and guide them to things they can do and teach them how to be better stewards.
[AB]: I agree with Annie, that this was the most satisfying of the essays to read. As a social studies teacher, I am very aware of opportunities to help my students realize that they are citizens in communities and have powers for good. This is something I hold very close to heart with my students, and I was pleased to find an essay about this topic. However, I am always a little skeptical when I hear discussions about the benefits of globalization on problems both local and international. I worry about the staying-power. Yes, we are more aware of problems around the world, but what do we REALLY do about it? Maybe you texted 4444 to the Red Cross after the earthquake in Haiti, but have you thought about it much since?
My point isn’t to be negative, but to point out that I believe this is an ongoing lesson, for students and adults alike. We CAN make a difference, but we have to want to. And we have to keep wanting too—we can’t give up even thought it is easy to. Educators must help guide students to realize the power they have. They can be active citizens of their community and make their world better. In order to do this, they need the skills to know how to make those connections. That is where we come in. Learning technology tools isn’t just to make our lessons better and more interesting. We have the tools and potential to help foster the creativity and lifelong learning that can make the world better for the next generations.
“Make ignorance insignificant”