In Michael Wesch’s talk, he quoted the fact that 88% of videos uploaded to YouTube is “new & original content”. This is simply incredible, there is no other way to describe it. I looked at my own YouTube channel and realized that I have over 30 of my own “new & original content” uploaded there, all of which have been uploaded in the past 3 years. Again, incredible. The reason I find this so incredible is because I think back to my childhood when camcorders became popular. They were bulky, expensive, and awkward. I was six the year these were invented and they looked like this:
Now, my family did not own one of these because family’s of the 80’s, as mine pictured below, did not get extra’s like camcorders because they were so expensive. I remember watching America’s Funniest Home Video’s as a child, in awe of the possibilities being recorded.
Fast forward 22 years to 2005 (I am now 28 years old) and YouTube is born. This becomes important because, as Wesch states, this becomes a “celebration of new forms of empowerment”, a “celebration of new forms of community that we had never really seen before”.
What becomes even more astonishing is that two years after the birth of YouTube, the first iPhone is born, hence the beginning of the ability to film/ record video with a device that fits inside our pocket that no one ever leaves home without and 85% of people own.
Yes, I am older than most university students, but this all happened within less than 2 decades! I am sure the younger generation will easily look back in their older years and be astonished at the technology that emerged because it develops at ever increasing rates.
So what does this mean for me and my future classroom? The first thing I think about is privacy. I need to make sure I have the proper permissions before I ever post anything on any social media. I love the fact that educators can, and should, use technology in their classrooms. Students are using it so let’s meet them where they are. I reflect on Katia’s slide displaying all the popular social apps youth are using right now and it overwhelms me. YouTube, SnapChat, Instagram, Tik Tok, Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite, Among Us, Discord, Reddit, and Twitch are just a few. Wesch describes this as “linking people in ways that we have never been linked before”. I need to be aware of what technology my students are using.
So, sounds awesome right!? I agree. But as with all good things, we need to take precautions. This new way of interacting in our world comes with risk and we need to be aware of these risks and talk openly about it with our students because if we aren’t talking, who is?
In our class lecture we discussed what is known as the “mediator” and that this mediator has disappeared in our new digital age. Parents, as an example, used to act as a mediator when the house phone rang. Now, parents do not even always know who their children are talking to. In these virtual communities, who knows who a child is talking to and where in the world that person is living. And there are predators lurking in not so dark corners anymore to lure youth in.
What does this mean for schools in general? Schools will certainly need to rethink things because the world now consists of “user generated content”. We have an “integrated media scape” that students are embracing. Wesch’s comment “when media change(s) human relations change”. Educators are going to need to be creative on how we develop relationships with our students because of this shift and change. Schools will need to adapt and be flexible. And many teachers and schools are!
To rethink the idea of schooling and education in our networked, participatory, and digital world I need to not be afraid of it! Sometimes fear of not understanding how some technologies work limits me. By choosing not to participate in this digital world, we limit ourselves as well as our students. Educators should meet students where they are at, and they are all using some type of technology. I think about the in class example Katia gave of teens eating Tide pods or participating in the black out challenge. We definitely need to re think how to participate in this digital world because sometimes our students can be misled in the big, digital world and they need educators to understand and not judge their digital realm..
How can we balance the challenges of our new digital reality with the possibilities that it offers? Balance is difficult in most things and I have found it comes mostly through trial and error. There is not a recipe to follow or a one size fits all solution for every classroom/ teacher. Choosing to not engage in any technology is not the right angle and yet trying to tackle too much is unrealistic! It is trying one thing and exploring and playing on that to see how it goes. Luckily “information is no longer guarded by institutions”, as Katia reminded us in class. This enables us the freedom to explore and try at least a few new things within the school year.