When I think about my own learning and how I find information, I connected to the first part of Diana Laufenberg’s Ted Talk. I completed my first degree at the very beginning of the internet so I also had to go to school to get the information. I researched using journals, microfiche, and the stacks and spent many hours in the library searching for something to inspire and justify my ideas. My second schooling was in naval training and this again was delivered to me only by the teacher, there was nowhere else to go to find the information you needed to calculate courses, weight distribution, and how to navigate a chart. There were experts you had to interact with to get information. Fast forward to 2008 when I changed to teaching and the internet was much more established, I found my digital searching skills far behind those of my younger cohort members. I had to fail a lot in order to learn how to find information that would allow me to succeed in my teaching degree. How I would have loved to have had Google Scholar back then. Now I can find out how to fix my car, rewire the toaster, or learn about facilitating Socratic discussions with just a few clicks.
This module helped me to think about how information is right there for the picking, but how does that translate to my students’ abilities and experiences. Reading Living with New Media made me think about the social world that my students experience online through Hanging out. Every day before at the bell as students are getting bags from their lockers they are planning their times to go online to chat, play games, and this week they went to a virtual concert in Fortnight. A real-life DJ Marshmello dropped some new tracks in a virtual environment and half my class hung out and made their characters dance. As much as I didn’t want to have my class flossing etc.. I thought it would be important to validate their social experiences and started a conversation about it the next day. They all said they had a lot of fun and enjoyed the opportunity to hang out together online, but they also brought up that if they had the means, they would rather go to a real concert. This concept of students hanging out in digital spaces makes it critical that adults recognize and value how children socialize but also gives us an added responsibility to nurture positive online relationships, have discussions, and teach ways to do this in a safe and respectful way through digital citizenship units.
Reflecting further on genres of participation, I thought about the connections between geeking out and inquiry. When students have the passion for a subject and we help them to navigate sources and find the information, we have helped them to inquire. How do we inquire online and find a source with the right expert and expertise to answer our questions? Just now, looking at a thesaurus I came across an article on experts which talked about whether or not the word has lost its meaning in 2019. It went on to discuss the idea of “armchair experts” and the problems and the great responsibility that arise with massive platforms of information and misinformation. Information can be a path to a better life as outlined in the Unicef article, unfortunately, it can also lead to a lot of harm. I thought about my Fourth Graders and how they are so desperate to inquire into their areas of interest and I wonder how can I help them to navigate safely and effectively. A couple of months ago I taught a lesson about the tree octopus website to try and take APART a source. I believe the lesson really made the students more critical of their sources as I watched them further apply their skills when looking for information on ecosystems.
It is really exciting to think about effective ways to improve as a researcher myself through advanced search techniques on Google and also how I can continue to foster effective inquiry through research in the classroom.