“Old Communication, New Literacies: Social Network Sites as Social Learning Resources”

Old Communication, New Literacies: Social Network Sites as Social Learning Resources, written by Christine Greenhow and Beth Robelia discusses the revolution of communication and social media as well as the importance they have on education. Greenhow and Robelia are two writers who engulf the truth to how students want to learn, and this new reality includes one not just of standard print books and lectures, but inclusive to social media: the constantly updating and active truth of our world, holding, truth, lies, and everything in between. I sit in the library of SCSU writing this, only to find every single individual with a phone or computer at hand, using social media in between study sessions. Greenhow and Robelia question that if we take the same learning concepts and reform them to include social media, how much would students benefit, and they argue that the benefits are increasingly great. There article states, “If as educators, researchers, and citizens, we want all students to be fully literate and able to communicate to be successful in a global community, we ought to attend especially to those students from low-income families who may be more likely to experience lower levels of online participation at home or at school, compared to their more affluent peers, and therefore, have fewer opportunities to practice new literacies. Looking at these teens’ use of social network sites through the lens of new literacy theories raises interesting questions, such as: What are the unwritten rules, expectations, or strategies for self-presentation and network production, maintenance and development? What role do different modes (e.g., language, images, music, etc.) and other forms of communication play in the development of the social network? How do the practices participants demonstrate fit with or depart from school practices?” This exert analyzes and concludes the opporunities for learning possible if we open up education to social media. If we can use social media almost as if its own large journal composed of millions of perspectives from all over the world, we can open our learning to the views and opinions of others as well as presenting our own views and opinions to others to enhance the knowledge and culture of social media. As Greenhow and Robelia state, if we want to be a globally-aware society, we must conclude to the most globally-diverse place consulting to the opinions of cultures everywhere: social media, as well as providing that ability in schools for all students to experience.

Defining Culture, Identity, and the Struggling Reader

While reading this module’s article, “Reading Adolescents’ Reading Abilities: Looking Back to See Ahead” written by Donna Alvermann, It has become clear that someone is looking out for all the discriminated-against readers who maybe just aren’t quite on the level that they “should” be on, and the way she puts it is remarkable. We’ve declared identities of reading as well as a cultural congecture that every year you get older, you should also increase your ability to read, both fluently and in speed. However, what we don’t realize is that these standards we have imprinted on our educational culture deteriorates the morals and abilities of a large portion of our society: those who don’t live up to the standard that is quite unreasonable for every single person to conform to. With reading tests required every year of schooling, we force kids to be nervous and to even strongly dislike reading because we have implemented stressful standards for students who feel that if they don’t meet these standards for whatever reason, they are not apart of the intellectual culture or identity of America, and this is extremely concerning when the teaching aspect is brought into it. In many schools and situations I have been accustomed to hear stories about as well as see, teachers use these standards to favorite those who are strong readers and meet the standards of reading, while those are left to envy those who are prioritized Teachers don’t prepare or prioritize those who need help, but in a ridiculously significant amount of cases, teachers neglect and stereotype those who are at a different level of education, often becoming a reputation that follows the student their entire life. What Alvermann suggests we try is to not look upon the negative characteristics of a student’s reading ability, but instead reflect upon the positive abilities they have, and what the next step for that individual is in order to grow as a reader. Often, the way a child learns in elementary school shapes the reputation and the identity teachers will see them and treat them as for their educational life, and this must stop. Rather than exploiting their “inability” to meet standard levels, we should praise them for where they are and help them to grow on an individual basis as well as remembering that each student does truly want to grow as long as the teacher is willing to let them.

Construction and/or Creation of Online Content

While reading the assignment of Construction and/or Creation of Online Content, I was reminded a considerable amount of the ignite talk in which i touched upon multiple changes that are necessary to bettering our education system, and to even go further, better our overall society. The article discusses the necessity of online creation and construction, and how an expression or love for a particular topic can be enhanced by the developing (creation and construction) of an online source. While it is always a necessity to create and to have the freedom to create, to go a step further and construct, “is equal parts inspiration and perspiration. Construction calls on creativity as well as persistence, flexibility, and revision. Construction asks our students and teachers to focus on the power and patience employed during work process…and not just the final resultant work product.” The idea of construction takes it a step further to show the development of the creativity, rather than just the creative concept itself. This can be brought into classrooms, similarly as Professor McVerry has, taking the creative concepts and ideas we have about educational topics and presenting them in ways that truly make us think and construct. For example, in my current class I’m writing this blog for, EDU 106, we use blogging, video creation, video warps, memes, and ignite talks to present our ideas in a constructive way. With the development of this blog, I have been forced to go beyond my past barriers and think about education in different ways and how I personally seek to change the system. We can take the argument of constructing online content rather than just creating it or even just viewing already created content in order to further our knowledge and understanding in new ways, and I think this can open a whole knew world for education.

An Abundance of Annoyances

All my writing has basically become an abundance of annoyances streamed together on a free website for all my viewers (all four of you including Professor McVerry), and I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed them. To all of you: I continue to add to the abundance of annoyances. This one going out to how to become a teacher. Now, I picked Southern strictly for being known to produce well teachers. Two of my favorite teachers ever from high school went to Southern, so I figured what the hell, I’ll be happy to save some money instead of paying an unnecessary $62,000 a year at Quinnipiac. Anyhow, I was discussing possible future internships with teachers at my old high school when it came about that Quinnipiac students who are seeking a teaching degree at Quinnipiac mostly intern at local schools such as North Haven High School and Cheshire (just two examples of other possibilities). My main question is: why do we sanction off sections for students to intern in? To be quite honest, I don’t ever remember having a Southern student interning at my high school. It was always quiet, dinky, my-mommy-and-daddy-are-paying-for-my-education type students who were too pretentious to teach average students (they always wanted honors or AP) and were too afraid of below average kids who weren’t as fortunate to have support systems who pushed them to succeed academically, or simply had an interest in something else. I have also been informed that Southern predominately does their internships at the surrounding urbanized or inner-city schools such as Hillhouse and Career who have a different culture in terms of their proximity to the city and the different life that kids may be accustomed to indifference to the suburbs. My suggestion is to intermingle the too experiences. One is not more beneficial than the other; They are just different environments that every future educator should be ready to walk into. Southern should experience inner-city schools and suburb-involved schools and the same should go for Quinnipiac. We should all spread a little love and share.

A Ridiculous System We Deem Acceptable

Usually I try to steer clear of writing about issues solemnly bashing SCSU, but in this instance, it’s absolutely necessary. I’m writing in the present tense because in this particular instance I’m about to discuss, I cannot seem to get away from it or find a well-founded solution. The topic of today’s rant is Course Registration: yes, the one thing every single Southern student hates because of our schools inability to provide a viable system in which provides each student with ease in a time of such stress. Let me tell you something, Southern, I already passed blood sweat and tears attempting to schedule all my necessary courses for next semester (which by the way, are all Tuesday/Thursday classes, so well done with that), and i don’t need the rest of the problems that come along with the lack of technological fluency you’ve induced. After a mind-numbing experience trying to create a schedule that worked for me, I was finally content; That was until I was forced to wake up at 5:30 in the morning in order to punch in a series of numbers to pick my courses for next year. Nevertheless, Bannerweb and myscsu still failed me. My advisor did not tell me I needed departmental permission to take EDU 200. Something in which she should have done or told me during my meeting with her (but I’m over that because she’s nice and we all don’t always think of everything). It was also partially my fault for not playing it safe and asking her when i wasn’t too sure, but whatever. So i went to register this morning and it prevented me from doing so because some secretary somewhere didn’t know I existed yet. So between nine emails and a series of stalking the office hours of my advisor, I was finally able to get an acceptance from whoever that secretary is, and I will be able to register for the class mid-morning TOMORROW. Now, lets just hope no eager little freshman come running into the 7 last spots in the only time slot that fits into my painstakingly down-to-the-last-second schedule, because at that point I will give up and become a hobo. Southern, this is a PSA from every SCSU student around. Sincerely, just another number.

Social Semiotics: From Advertising to the Classroom

Within the reading I found a specific interest in the concept of social semiotics. Now, I am by no means a wiz at technology or fonts or coding or really anything besides searching on Google and writing papers, so it has become particularly interesting to me that there are individuals out there who analyze the way things are read and why. The paragraph in the reading in which states, “The approach from Social Semiotics not only draws attention to the many kinds of meanings which are at issue in design, but the “social” in “Social Semiotics” draws attention to the fact that meanings always relate to specific societies and their cultures, and to the meanings of the members of those cultures. Semiotics takes the sign – a fusion of a form and a meaning – as its basic unit. In making signs we –embedded in our cultures – select forms in such a way that they expresses the meanings that we ‘have’ always ‘aptly’; hence signs always express, through their form, the meanings that the makers of signs have wished to make” is an interesting concept to think about, especially when considering the theme of individualized learning. For texts and images (signs) to be aptly based off of the expression of a culture and how to intrigue interest can and should be used similarly in classroom settings. Imagine if we took this same concept for each student and individualized texts and images in readings and on projects or lectures and made it adaptable and relatable to each individual in order to increase learning growth, how much individuals would strive. While, yes, we may have to leave some aspects of school traditional, we can open up an entire branch of learning that involves students adapting to information and skills in their own ways based on their culture, their abilities to interpret text, and be attracted or interested in these texts and images. This idea of Social Semiotics may be a branch to open an entire field of education that is practically unsolved. In addition we can take the idea of design from social semiotics and transform it to fit individual topics in education systems. For example, in Literature Classes we can use design to create our own ideas about what society has become today into images and using those images, create our own literature that parallels to how authors would code societal issues into their writing.

Why Physical Education is Still a Necessity

I just want to go on the record by stating that I was by no means a lover of P.E. during middle or high school. I actually despised it, and only now in college am I seeing the necessity of Physical Education.  At NHHS, we had a general P.E. freshman and junior year, however sophomore year we had a program elective called “Project Adventure” which was an outdoor P.E. class learning how to climb and do obstacle courses. Outside of Project Adventure, I hated P.E. and thought it was a waste of time, using a valuable block that could have been used for studying. Also to go on the record, I had nothing against exercising. I was a varsity competitive cheerleader practicing for three hours a night every night during the week all year for four years. But being the serious student that I was I would have preferred taking an additional English class rather than doing ab workouts at 9:30 in the morning after my first block math class. HOWEVER. I have had a major 180 change on how I feel about P.E. P.E. teaches individuals how to continue maintaining healthy choices and fitness even after high school and how to truly beat the freshman 10. During my freshman year I have valued and taken the skills from Freshman P.E. and inserted them into my daily routines. P.E. also is extremely important because for a designated period students are allowed time to be active and healthy when in most days it’s hard to find other times, and this allows students to prioritize and value healthy decisions and exercise.

I’m Sorry if I Ever Prevented You from Learning

I am deeply and sincerely apologetic if I ever prevented you from learning. I am deeply and sincerely apologetic that society has taught you that women need to wear “proper” clothing in school and in the workplace. I, even more so, am extremely apologetic that in the country of the “free”, our education system has taught you that women are distracting when showing skin: a part of them that men also share. What am I most apologetic for? The fact that from kindergarten all the way to my senior year of high school I was subject to my outfits and what i wore that day instead of the knowledge in my head. That I would be taken out of class just to discuss my apparel instead of letting me LEARN. Instead of letting me do the thing that we are meant to do in school. If someone is distracted that I wore a tank top because it’s 95 degrees out, then that is their issue to fix, not mine. They should be taught the values of their education and redirected to anything besides my human shoulders. I’m sorry that young men have been taught by the education system that they can wear what they’d like but I, their female counterpart, must be conscious because I may be a distraction. They, not a distraction on me, though. The day I become a teacher is the day there is one less teacher restricting what students may or may not wear in my classroom.

Small Differences Matter: The DNA of Online Reading Comprehension

This Module’s reading has honestly opened my eyes to the value and importance of the 2% difference between us and a chimpanzee, making us the intelligent, comprehensive human race we are today. The reading has taught me that much like our genetic code, online reading and traditional reading share such similar characteristics, but their differences create a layer of such complexity that mirror the same cognitive abilities between chimpanzees and human beings. However, measuring online reading comprehension is quite different than those of traditional reading, and must be scaled and skilled differently, creating an entirely new system of reading that must be taught in education systems. From learning what key words to search, to picking a reliable site to read, to analyzing and evaluating the credibility of a site, online reading comprehension has become so complex that the traditional skills of reading comprehension are just one level of analysis in the new technological world we live in. New and more complex skills and practices are required to read in online environments. This 2% (an analogy not actual data) represents the set of skills and practice that allow some learners to take online texts and reshape the meaning for future learning. The reading states, “I see many parallels with definitions of online reading comprehension. When reading online more successful students do not simply assimilate information as traditional definitions comprehension would have us believe. Skilled online readers “manipulate and mold information to achieve a higher goal” (Kaku, 2014, chapter 7, 24:26). Based on my dissertation research and classroom observations I see three critical shifts: strategic text assembly, socially complex texts, and multimodal design.” This shows the complexity to online reading and has truly opened my eyes as a future educator to the necessity in teaching how to properly read online sources and comprehend it. 

 

Online Reading Comprehension Observations

Within the observations I made between student A, a student with weaker reading comprehension skills, and student B, a student with stronger reading comprehension skills, I noticed some major differences mainly between locating information and critically evaluating this information. When it comes to locating the information in order to research, Student A had a great misunderstanding about what to research and had to have it clarified and repeated multiple times. Student A shows a strong basic skill of taking the topic given by Susan and copying it from the chat into the tool bar of the search engine, providing results for the topic being searched. However, Student A does not look at the brief descriptions under the website links before choosing one to inquire that may have the most information, but instead, clicks on the first link at the top which has nothing to do with the topic. Student A is quickly distracted by the pictures of puppies on the page and does not receive any information. Student A then goes back to the search engine and clicks the second link, again without reviewing the brief description, and takes information on asthma drugs on sale to treat. Student A shows weak signs that they have been taught to properly inquire information off the internet, and should review basic skills to research. Student B, however, contrasts greatly, showing signs to find out the information being researched. Student B, similarly to Student A, copies the information from the chat into the tool bar, but proceeds his research quite differently. Student B reviews each source on the search engine before picking the right one to research, as well as copies each search URL to save them for later and site his references. Student B continues on to strongly evaluate the websites, looking at all aspects of the websites such as ads, comments, and the amount of information given, in order to evaluate the credibility and value of the website. When asked to find the author and their credentials, Student B asks questions and finds the authors name at the top, discovering that she works for the website’s company. Student B states that she seems to be an unofficial expert, and clicks on her bio to inquire more about her credibility and experience in the field. Similarly, Student A is able to find the authors name and find their bio, but is not able to evaluate that she may or may not be a credible source on the subject. Student A does not evaluate the website, but again, gets distracted by ads and pictures instead of the value of the information and comments given. Through the abilities of two students, we are able to inquire the differences between two learners and how one may need assistance to reach the goal of the other, for learning abilities are different for everyone.