The Internet is Not the Problem

During our last class session, as Dr. Couros presented various critiques of technology through the ages we are reminded that every new technology brings what Devorah Heitner calls a cycle of anxiety. A NY Times columnist writes “Before the Internet, television, telephones and automobiles all had their turn at being bashed by people afraid of social changes wrought by new technologies”. My classmate Logan illustrates this point further in his post “Stop Villainizing the Internet”.  The internet, in a techno-dystopian manner, is constantly “blamed” for the demise of society and especially of today’s youth. Blame is incorrectly placed onto the thing itself (the internet) rather than placing accountability on its users (it’s visitors and residents).

Part of our assignment this week was to view the videos Do “Digital Natives” Exist? and Visitors and Residents which provide a critique and alternative to Mark Prensky’s “Digital Native vs. Digital Immigrant” binary argument. In critique of Prensky, I think it is important to understand that just because children and youth are born in to the Digital Age and may know how to use technology more adeptly than the previous generations (a privileged perspective), there are challenges in raising children to be caring digital citizens. This video by Devorah Heitner titled “The Challenges of Raising a Digital Native” raises some important points and is an excellent watch. Heitner discusses parents fears and anxieties of raising children in the Digital Age and how parents want to “spy on” and “catch” their child “doing something bad” on the internet. There is a very real parental fear that because their children are members of the Digital Age that they will automatically be susceptible to the evils of the Internet. This fear can be legitimate if young people do not have guidance.

Heitner suggests two important ideas. First, that just because children are tech savvy, doesn’t mean they have the tools to create a positive digital footprint or navigate the world of social media with kindness and caring. Second, that before parents try to catch their kids doing something wrong, Heitner asks “have we done a good enough job of modelling the right thing?” Students may be more tech savvy, but they still require guidance and a significant part of that guidance is educating students about empathy. There is immense power in positive digital sharing but the role of the parents and educators remains to guide students in bringing an element of humanity into their online behaviour.




The Jurgenson Effect: A New Year’s Resolution Ruiner

This New Year’s season I heard many people talk about their resolution being to scroll


Here is me using a real life map 🙂

less. That is, to spend less time scrolling through social media sites or apps in favour of spending more time IRL. This sounded like an excellent idea to me as I often find myself trying to disconnect.

As Nathan Jurgenson (2012) tells us in his article The IRL Fetish, “Having to navigate without a maps app, eating a delicious lunch and not being able to post a photograph, having a witty thought without being able to tweet forces reflection on how different our modern lives really are”. In fact, I recently had to use a map (yes…a paper map that you unfold and have to figure out the actual directions yourself!) while in Phoenix over the winter holiday. We had to turn off our data which meant not being able to use Google Maps to take us from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon and on to Las Vegas. I have to admit it was a little weird (and also unnerving!) to map out our own route (what if we got lost?!). Of course, even though I didn’t have access to data, I still took a photo (three to be exact) so that I could post this bizarre feat (using a real life map) into my Snapchat story once we reached the hotel and could turn on the wifi.


Selfie from the Larch Valley Trail @ Moraine Lake

Earlier this fall, I hiked the Larch Valley Trail which is out of service area but my phone was still in my backpack to document the journey. Now, I am all about documenting life experiences as I explained my love of photography in my introductory post. But I also thought I was all about being unplugged and disconnected and getting in touch with nature. For one week each summer my family heads up to Northern Saskatchewan where we are isolated and without service. Each year it is a breath of fresh air (no pun intended!) to be disconnected for that period of time. However, this week Jurgenson has me reconsidering my approach a little. Jurgenson (2012) argues “Twitter lips and Instagram eyes: Social media is part of ourselves”. It is quite literally an extension of our own bodies into a digital space. The dichotomy of online and offline becomes a blurry mess: “The clear distinction between the on and offline, between human and technology, is queered beyond tenability…time spent not looking at Facebook becomes the status updates and photos we will post later” (Jurgenson, 2012). Jurgenson (2012) argues “we’ve never cherished being alone, valued introspection, and treasured information disconnection more than we do now”. Even though the IRL fetish exists, he counters the obsession by indicating society’s desperate cry to be unplugged is create by the fact that we are so connected. As I reconsidered my “disconnected time” this past year, I realize that even though I was not connected at the time, there was time spent planning and preparing photographs that could later be posted to my social media pages. I now feel like a bit of a IRL fetish fraud.

We can further our understanding of a lack of an online/offline dichotomy as we explore Michael Wesch’s 2009 article “Youtube and You” in which he examines the complex relationship between Youtubers and their audiences. One ironic example lies in this following video (which I actually thoroughly enjoy!). The vlogger is suggesting that people can and should spend more time alone. But this author/vlogger is not alone. The video has been viewed more than 8 million times. As vloggers create in an environment of seeming loneliness, the audience feedback and views indicate a complex relationship that holds significant potential for human connection.

So, to truly be unplugged, do we need to disassociate the experience from the realm of possibly posting online later? While out enjoying “real life”, do we need to stop and think about photographing an experience simply for our own viewing pleasure? Or do we just need to embrace the fact, as Jurgenson (2012) argues, that we are inexplicably connected, even when we are disconnected? I think these ideas are something I will tangle with throughout the course of the term and have to reconsider during my Summary of Learning or future blog post. After reading Jana‘s post, I know I am not the only one grappling with these new understandings.

Either way, I suppose I will need to rethink my New Years resolutions.

What do you think? How can we disconnect? or are we so enmeshed in technology that we are unable to truly disconnect?


Major Project Projections

Welcome back…to my second blog post! So far this course has been fairly out of my comfort zone in terms of a new level of engagement with social media. While I would say I am a social media user, I would describe myself more of a consumer of social media than a creator. If not for this class, I wouldn’t be posting on Twitter or writing blog posts but I do enjoy reading what others put out there. But I am here to learn more and putting myself out there will be part of this EC&I832 journey.

One thing I have noticed is the number of tabs I have open on my screen is a little overboard and for my neat, tidy, OCD self, sometimes the tabs are too much!

For the past week and a half I have been in a bit of a slump trying to decide what I want to do for my final project. After reading Brittany, Kyle and Nicole‘s posts this week, I finally decided to go with Option 2: Personal journey in to media.

There are three media spaces I plan to delve in to over the course of the semester.

First, I plan to look at the app Snapchat. I use Snapchat quite frequently (mostly to share pictures of my dog!). However, having teenage cousins, I know that this app is often used for bad and has become “synonymous with sexting“, bullying and the anxiety of Snapchat streaking. Since so many young people engage with this app there has to be a way to use it for good and I would like to explore if and how Snapchat can be used in a classroom setting for engaging educational purposes.

The second media space I would like to explore is Seesaw. Our school division supports the use of this app and many of my teacher friends are using it, but I know little about it. I have been thinking about giving it a try for awhile now and thanks to Nina, I finally signed up today. I am currently using Remind but am curious if Seesaw will work synonymous with Remind or perhaps replace what I am doing with Remind. Perhaps I will like Remind better? I hope to explore this further in my investigation.

The final media space I hope to explore is not an app in particular but an exploration of the use of memes in literacy instruction. At a conference last year I heard a bit about this but dismissed it as mostly a tool for older students. However, I would like to use memes with my younger students this term to see how it enhances literacy learning and engagement. In this third media space I am currently (maybe I will change my mind) not thinking about using an app such as MemeGenerator because it has too many inappropriate images that I do not want my students accessing. However, I plan to use images from the app or other internet sources in my planning for meme exploration in the classroom.

I plan to examine Snapchat & Seesaw over the course of the semester and then focus specifically on a literacy meme exploration in March while continuing to use the other two apps. Following this extended use of the three media spaces I will conduct my analysis from a personal and professional lens.


Back in Action…for EC&I 832

Considering I had to reset my WordPress password from six years ago, I say it’s been awhile since I have been up to this whole blogging thing.

My name is Brooke. I am a grad student at the University of Regina. EC&I 832 is my fifth course. I can’t wait until the end of April to say I am officially halfway done my Master’s degree. Considering I only started this degree last September, I’d say I am kicking butt so far! I was interested in taking this course because I was feeling a little out of the tech world and wanted to join back in. Although I tend to be more of a reader or “lurker” than a participator when it comes to Twitter. I suppose I’ve got to put myself out there!

I am also an aspiring photographer, dog mom to a German Shorthaired Pointer named Odin and a Harry Potter fan. Here is one of my favourite and most recent photographs from Horseshoe Bend Canyon in Arizona. My husband and I visited this amazing site over the winter holiday. test photo