As an educator, I use networked affinity spaces, mostly Twitter and Pinterest, as my top form of professional development. I follow elementary teachers, principals, colleagues, classmates, technologists, tech companies, and ed tech leaders. In addition to the intentional choices I make about my own information intake, news websites and search engines filter and personalize what data analyses have determined might be interesting and relevant to me. Although I may want to be the type of person who keeps up with the political race, I am inclined to find more interest in reading about The Bachelor, so therefore search engines deliver me with what I may find interesting when I get to their site or search engine, to keep me coming back (Praiser).
Recognizing the limitations of only receiving information on education and technology, I started following several people outside of my teacher/tech-enthusiastic world. Here are a few of the people I began following: @DalaiLama @BarackObama @BAFOUND I followed each of these people for a different reason. I want the Dalai Lama to provide me with motivation and peace, the president to keep me informed on politics and my world, and Brain Aneurysm Found because my mom suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm 2 years ago. By following the Dalai Lama, I was immediately welcomed with “Creating a better world will require willpower, vision and determination. And for that we need a strong sense that humanity is one family.” Then in a separate Tweet, Barack Obama stated, “American workers shouldn’t have to choose between their health and a paycheck.” And lastly, Brain Aneurysm Found Tweeted: http://www.9news.com/news/health/genetics-biggest-clue-to-brain-aneurysms/125035740.
I have already seen the benefits of broadening my information pool. I find so much power behind the statement made by Dalai Lama. What a fascinating outlook on the importance of the collaborative WE that Gee spoke to. This is important to me as a teacher who finds importance in shaping the whole-child. Following the Dalai Lama will help me help my students find ways to create a better world. I used this quote on my Morning Message after reading it. My students and I discussed what it meant to be one family and share a vision. A second Tweet by Dalai Lama challenged my thinking about technology in the classroom. “Whether technology’s effect is good or bad depends on the user. It’s important that we shouldn’t be slaves to technology; it should help us.” As educators, we need to consider why we are integrating technology in our classrooms and educate our students. Technology should be supporting positive change and not just something we feel forced to use. If these Tweets are an indicator of the type of information I will receive when reading the Tweets by @DalaiLama, I know I wilL be frequently inspired.
If I think about Dalai Lama Tweets as inspiration, I can see @BarackObama as the realest who brings me back to what is really going on in our world. I can’t choose to ignore the stark realities of the world we live in if I am delivered information about it frequently. And lastly, @BAFOUND serves as my outreach. In the video they Tweeted on Sunday, the importance of having a brain scan if you have a family history of brain aneurysms was shared. After my mom suffered a ruptured aneurysm, I was off to get an M.R.A., but my sister hasn’t. I sent her this link and asked her to please do so. Although each of these Twitter handles delivered me with vastly different and unique perspectives, they each had a profound impact on my thinking, which is immensely important.
I also find the idea broadening the information pool applicable to the information we deliver to the students we teach. “Some parents want to keep their children away from digital media in the first few years of life. This is as silly as keeping them away from books or crayons” (Gee, p. 201). This unique perspective got me thinking about how children can be influenced by social media in more powerful and useful ways. We can help create a world of passionate, informed, children. Like Henry Jenkins said, “What does it mean to be as passionate about the future of society as you are about anime, about games, about the sort of forms of popular culture that young people are involved with?” It’s up to us to deliver information to that not only do we think they need but they want and need, too.
Carr, N. (Director). (n.d.). The Dark Side of the Information Revolution [Video file]. Retrieved April 10, 2016, from http://bcove.me/7j4zpzwz
Gee, J. P. (2013). The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Jenkins, Henry. Media Scholar Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture and Civic Engagement. (2011, August 4). Retrieved April 10, 2016, from http://youtu.be/ZgZ4ph3dSmY
Pariser, Eli. Beware of Online “Filter Bubbles”. (2011, March). Retrieved April 10, 2016, from http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles