Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out

The video below was a bit of an awakener to me, mainly because it highlighted that I am incredibly similar to our target audience (i.e. high school students) in terms of my online activity. 

While I may not be quite as “friendship driven”, (and hopefully a lot less drama-prone!), I really felt like “Messing Around” and “Geeking Out” portion really applied to me.  I’m sure this is not unique, but getting lost in gaming, web tutorials, using torrents to find media otherwise not available (especially outside of the US)–all of this is par for the course for me.  I was not terribly surprised by this, as students have commented to me that, “You know about that site?!”.  Yes, little Johnny–just because I don’t Vine doesn’t mean I can’t Torrent!

Twitter!

We’ve arrived at the most exciting part of this week’s readings and assignments:  Building your Twitter PLN.  I’ve been totally “twitterpated” (as @Chezvivien predicted) as I finally committed to giving Tweets a proper chance.  I had messed around with Twitter in the past, but had not really delved in and tried to make it work for me.  Now I get it.

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TweetDeck allows me to follow hashtags that I am interested in.

Most importantly, I discovered TweetDeck.  The power of TweetDeck is that it allows you to follow hashtags, instead of only following people.  There’s nothing wrong with following people, of course, but humans have this nasty thing called “free will”, where they post things that they want to post, regardless of whether the all-important-I want to see them!  Enter TweetDeck:  Nobody is going to use the hashtag #chemchat to deliver a “goodnight everyone” message.  I won’t find pictures of someone’s oh-so-cute baby with the #coetail marker.

I also sent a probe out to what I would consider an “old-school” PLN–my National Science Teachers Association listserve.  This is a hugely helpful resource, and when I asked “Who is using Twitter?”, I immediately found another 15 very tech-friendly science teachers.  Perfect!

Blooms Digital Taxonomy

It took me a while to really understand what this article was attempting to accomplish, and I am still a bit confused as to how useful it is to me personally.   It appears to be attempting to rank various types of ‘digital activity’ (for lack of a better term) based on the level of thinking associated with that activity–an idea that I believe might be fundamentally flawed.

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Can we really rank methods of communication?

At it’s core was a claim that certain stages of thinking are lower-order than others, and that as teachers, our job is to increase the amount of time spent in the higher-order thinking;  this seems to be unanimously agreed upon.  It is far superior to understand why the volume of a gas increases with temperature, instead of memorizing that the volume of a gas increases with temperature.  It is true that not all learning can be considered equal.

However, I believe the article went too far in it’s claims.  In the central diagram, where the digital taxonomy’s key terms were broken down (thesauras-style), a “Communication Spectrum” is presented.   Many methods of communication are presented (as well as some more general terms, such as Debating or Questioning), and given rank in order of lower to higher order.   It seems to me that claiming that instant-messaging and emailing are somehow by-nature to be lower-order than replying or collaborating is far too general.  I have written and received plenty of very high-level emails, and witnessed some incredibly low-level collaborative exercises.  I believe we get a bit giddy about anything where more than one person is involved. Throwing out email as a lower-order communication method is unnecessary and inaccurate.

I do believe that this list of communication methods was useful for me in my planning, as it will (hopefully) serve as inspiration:  How can I incorporate blogging into this unit?  Could my students use animation to help comprehend these concepts?  I wonder if a collaborative animation project would be useful?  In the dreaded and upcoming Internal Assessment, I am thinking about asking students to make a blog post in which they state their research question and invite feedback from their peers (i.e. commenting).  I could give the other students a rubric or checklist, which details what makes a good research question, and they could use this to comment on each other’s blog.  It would be a welcome change of pace for them–instead of only receiving feedback from me, they would hear it from their peers.