Sunday, May 17, 2009

first and last class of digital media production

back in late january, during the first day of class for digital media production, i wrote in chalk all of the tools and platforms we'd be using spring semester. under the names of the tools and platforms, i made two - and sometimes three - columns based on things like use vs don't use, know it vs don't know it, and read vs write. then i asked students to get out of their seats, approach the blackboard, and record, in chalk, their start-of-the-semester levels of knowledge and experience of each of these digital media platforms.

fifteen weeks later, on the last day of class last thursday, i re-wrote in chalk the names of the tools and platforms. i put an X through yelp and video because we ended up not covering them. for about an hour and a half, the students and i discussed each of the tools and shared our likes and dislikes. we collectively brainstormed and agreed upon appropriate questions and statements for each of the tools and platforms. for example, do you plan to keep using twitter? yes or no. each time we agreed upon a question, i asked the students to get out of their seats, approach the blackboard, and record, in chalk, their positions. when we were finished, the blackboard looked like this:

thanks, DMP, for an excellent and prolific semester.


Ivan Chew said...

Thanks for sharing the "before and after" pics. You know, you should indicate the date on the chalkboard the next time. I'm flipping both pics to see the difference and got confused! lol

Thinking aloud: For Facebook, 100% said they used it on day 1. On the last day, most said they'd use it differently. I'm keen to know the difference.

Re: Twitter - most indicate they'd use it now. I'm curious how they perceived a tool like twitter, before and after.

The 'Blogs' part had fewer 'reads' after the class. Did I get that correctly? I wonder why.

Re: Wikipedia, at first 4 indicated they'll edit (are they expressing an intent or actual experience?) and later only 2 said they will. Wonder what changed the minds of the other 2.

The results sort of sums one thing up: Create a purpose to something (tool, things, life) and people will see/ act/ do differently :)

david silver said...

Ivan - thank you for the excellent questions. this is finals week so things are a bit hectic right now. but i will try to answer your questions in a few days. and, hopefully, maybe some of my students will chime in, too.

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david silver said...

Ivan - hello!

your idea of placing a date on the chalkboard is an excellent one and i'll certainly do that in the future.

FACEBOOK: our discussion about facebook was fascinating. as you note, 100% of students used it on the first day. but through the semester, as students got introduced to other tools and platforms, many if not most of my students' commitment to facebook seemed to wane. it's not as if my students are quitting facebook - for them, and for me, too many of their friends and family members are on it, thereby "forcing" them to stay on it - but they are using it differently and, i think, using it less. as one student said in class, "i use twitter for stuff i care about and facebook for, uh, whatever." she went on to say: "i only follow people i care about on twitter, but on facebook, i'll let anyone be a friend." out of the whole class, only one student said that facebook would remain her "main" platform for communication - only one! i too am curious to hear more about how my students plan to use facebook differently.

TWITTER: good question. i'll try to get some students to weigh in on this question.

BLOGS: you are correct. i believe that the timing of this class - spring 09 - was the exact time during which the popularity of blogs began to decrease. blame it on twitter, blame it on information overload, blame it on something - but my students seemed to be less interested in blogs at the end of class than they were at the beginning. a lot can happen in 15 weeks!

WIKIPEDIA: interesting, huh? what i think is happening is this: at the beginning of the semester, i asked how many students have edited wikipedia - and 4 said yes. i strongly believe that all 4 did so because they were required to by a professor. i could be wrong, but i don't think any of my students did so voluntarily. my question at the end of the semester was, "now that all of you have edited wikipedia, how many of you will continue to do so?" and 2 said yes. i'm still mulling over what this means but i think editing wikipedia is a lot harder and much more time-consuming than they thought.

i hope this helps, Ivan.

one thing i found interesting was the google maps question. at the beginning of the semester, all of my students USED google maps but none of them MADE google maps. at the end of the semester, when i asked them whether or not they would continue making them, the majority said yes. in some ways, i think this encapsulates what this class was all about - that it's important to be familiar with various digital platforms and it's equally important to make/build/participate in them.

as always, thanks Ivan for your questions and insights. one day we will co-teach a class. wouldn't that be great?

Ivan Chew said...

David! Thanks for your reply. It's clarified a lot of things and also raises more questions.

Just thinking aloud here (I don't really expect you to respond, esp. not during your summer break!):

The response about how this particular class viewed Twitter and Facebook was most unexpected for me. I wonder how pervasive is this phenomenon/ practice of FB being viewed as a defacto extended online family network, where people feel obligated to add as friends?

Or maybe the phenomenon has more to do with the exclusivity (or inexclusivity) of the platform, i.e. the more people adopt the platform, the less "valuable" the platform becomes. It become a common and shared space, whereas Twitter is the new private space. That is until Twitter reaches a level of adoption high enough that it's relegated to a "uh whatever" platform.

One conjecture about the "reading less blogs" and "tweeting more": It could be more evidence of people's decreasing attention span. That the 140 char Twitter platform is easier to consume than blogs. Like how book summaries now become popular for "busy executives" who are too strapped for time to read books cover to cover. All this reminds me of an editorial by Stanley Schmidt in Analog science fiction and fact/ Jan & Feb 2008. He wrote about vicious cycle of decreasing attention spans. Concludes by asking what this means for democracy, if voters aren’t willing to reflect deeper on issues and have the tendency to respond based on condensed info.

Finally, in response to your 2nd last para: "...that it's important to be familiar with various digital platforms and it's equally important to make/build/participate in them".

I think this relates to shorter attention spans. It's pretty evident that most people who adopt new media (like FB, Twitter. GoogleMaps) don't spend enough time familiarising themselves with what each tool can do. And if they don't have a deeper understanding, they would tend to create less.

Does this signal a (potentially negative) trend of the dumbing-down of social media tools, thereby triggering a cycle of passive consumers rather than active creators?

OK, I know I've made several biased statements to disqualify the above as research hypothesis. But as I wrote, it's certainly opening up more questions.

Co-teach a class? WOOT! But I'd need a PhD for that right? Hmm... let me consider that with greater care. :)

Elisa said...

This class was excellent because it encompassed everything I love and sometimes hate about technology. When I was a youngin I never thought i would be able to take a class like this so thank you for coming up with the idea and allowing me to be one of your students.


Maia said...

Wow, interesting results. I noticed that most students said that they would not continue to use Zotero for their research. Could you comment on why this is? Also, I wonder if they might find Archivd to be more useful?