the first time i taught college students was in 1995, when i was a teaching assistant for professor mary corbin sies' class material aspects of american life at the university of maryland. a year earlier, mary and professor jo paoletti received a grant from the university to add technology to their classes. so along with fellow teaching assistant pysche williams, i was tasked to brainstorm ways we could integrate this new tool called the world wide web into the course curriculum.
in place of traditional papers turned over privately to the professor, students in material aspects of american life designed "homepages," or personal web sites, and shared their research them publicly onto the internet. it was an incredibly powerful learning experience - for me, for the students, and for the professor. it was also, in retrospect, an incredibly time-consuming experience.
in addition to teaching about material culture, we had to teach the students (and often ourselves) five new things. we taught them html, which took us about an hour or so. we taught them pico text editor and basic file management, which took us about an hour or two. and we taught them ftp, which took us about an hour, plenty of headaches, and an occasional extra office hour.
in addition to, and perhaps even more than, these more technical skills, we taught them more behavioral skills. we taught them how to write for the web - to think before you publish, to consider what was appropriate within an academic setting, to understand what they were creating could and most likely would remain online beyond the duration of the class, and to take responsibility for the work you make public. and, finally, we taught them how to read for the web - to read other students' work, to take some time to think about how their peers could improve their work, and to relay those comments back to their peers.
this thursday, students in digital media production will demo their first projects. the projects are being built with and presented via facebook. this semester, all of my students are on facebook. this means that all of my students know how to design profiles, create content, upload and share photographs, comment, tag, blog, and micro-blog for a public/semi-public audience. and this means that here in 2009 i'll spend zero minutes of class time teaching students how to use the tools necessary for project one.