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I’m lazying on my couch right now on a Wednesday evening (5:53pm). I just spent the last hour and a half reading about digital media/tech/education stuff that barely made any sense to me. I”m doing it more out of duty than interest because 1) I’m attending the DML 2015 conference next next week and I don’t want to be sitting there without a clue, 2) I’m writing a paper on said conference and don’t want to be sitting at my comp without a clue, and 3) ed tech is the present and the future and I figure I’d better get a handle on things before I get manhandled by it. There is no avoiding it, you have to get on the wave or else risk getting left in the dust of your chalk board.

Some things I’ve learned so far about Digital Media, tech, and education:

1) Black and Latino youth are prolific consumers when it comes to social media, even more so than white and asian youth. There’s a sort of black and latino subculture on things like twitter. Black Twitter is a thing, where black twitter users use the platform to publicly display knowledge of their black culture. Some use has been linked to the “dozens”, a sort of “yo mama” joke insult game used by black slaves to toughen each other up for their masters.

2) Low-Income Parents sacrifice a ton to give tech/internet access to their kids because they believe it will help their education. However, immigrant parents do not adopt social media technologies because they’re not really familiar with it and they don’t know how to view their kids’ use of it. As a result, my guess very little social media/tech monitoring is going on in L.I. families*.

3) All-things-digital-education-related = Inquiry-based teaching. American philosopher and educator John Dewey promoted inquiry education back in the early 1900s and his work is still influencing us (whether we know it or not) today. Inquiry education basically mirrors the scientific method, in which teachers guide students in working out issues and problems directly related to their own context, helping them to have meaningful interactions with their problems which should produce knowledge and further inquiry.

As inquiry education relates to our digital age, 3d printers, coding, media development (through Adobe suite stuff) are usually elevated as tools to “produce” or “make” new things based on the interests of the students. Students “inquire” about some issue or problem relevant to them, and they use tech to gain knowledge or skills to present their findings or produce some final product like a pair of fashionable jeans or a new app. This inquiry-based model using tech doesn’t seem much different from a Senior Project that some of my friends did in high school, but now the game is to use tech or to learn some code to produce something.

4) Open Learning, MOOCs, and other jargon.

MOOCs = Massive Open Online Courses. I’m thinking Khan academy and all the other universities offering their courses through itunesU or other platforms online. I think the jury is still out on their effectiveness, and Gov. Brown was trying to arm twist the UCs to go this route to save money as opposed to raising tuition rates.

Open learning Communities and the Merit Badge System – I think people see the potential of the internet as a medium of free learning as we see people teaching themselves how to do stuff all the time through online forums, Youtube, and other digital media. It seems that this type of learning/teaching is going on at a very informal level, but what if we gave these informal learners a form of official recognition for all the work they’ve done? These informal students learn crucial skills like coding, algebra, and bike tire replacement, so why can’t they put that on some transcript or resume? After all, universities do the exact same thing except award credits, but are much slower and more expensive for the learner to learn. Some have called for introducing a “badge” system, where self-taught learners can earn an official “badge” (much like a unit or credit from a college) after demonstrating a particular skill or knowledge of a certain subject. Given the asynchronous nature of the internet and its ability to accommodate multiple learning styles and living habits (you can now eat at your desk and learn at the same time), the badge system seems like it would benefit a lot of people who don’t/can’t bend themselves to the schedules and bureaucracy of the school system.

* I’ve seen 3rd-party how teens use media to get into all sorts of mischief. A teenager using my stolen iphone still linked to my icloud accidentally sent my phone texts while conversing with his friends on imessage. Texts usually consisted of a lot of emoticons and slang about acquiring and smoking marijuana, the enjoyments/horrors of sex, and selfies. Actually, I’m pretty sure middle/high income students are texting about the same things, which leads us back to the problem of how parents should monitor their kids’ technology while respecting their freedom.

And even though there’s no connection between this video of NSYNC’s live performance of “Digital Get Down” and my post, it was the first thing I thought of when I wanted to insert some color in this rather drab post. Enjoy!

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