Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Connections ...

Having read Turkle and Wesch, I find that there are both similarities and differences in their beliefs regarding learning and connections.  When reading Turkle's article, I focused on the message that while we are all connected via media and technology, very little communication actually occurs.  I shared what I think was an example of this when leaving a Starbucks last week.  I was leaving the store, when I noticed seven high school aged young women sitting outside enjoying their beverages, it was then that I realized that despite being outside with a group of girls that would usually likely be characterized as a fun loving, loud group of girls, I could hear a pin drop.  Every single one of those girls was actively engaged with their hand held technology pieces.  Fingers were flying and swiping and they looked engrossed in whatever was holding their attention, so much so that they appeared to live in a bubble next to other girls also living in bubbles.  Turkle's article also points out that we are more connected than ever but are living our lives in little snip its of information that we shape for our audiences.  The article notes important parts of meaning such as tone and body language are lost lost in the absence of communication.  A good example of this is how easy it is to right a wrong using technology; in other words, not having to look the person in the eye and speak of any wrong doings.  So, while being connected and having resources available to us can help us stay more informed, it may be happening with a cost and that cost is communication.

Wesch's article delves more into the "why" of connections.  I can relate to his article in that as a student in high school, I often asked "why" in relation to significance.   I wanted to know why or how was what I was learning significant not only in my life or future but to the planet that I was living on. I found it difficult to stay engaged or worse, to want to learn if I couldn't find significance in what I was learning.  Just this past weekend, my husband and I were having a conversation in the car about education.  As the youngest of six children, he has shared with me in the past that education was never much of a priority in the home he grew up in, paying the bills always came first.  This weekend I dug a little deeper and asked why he went to college.  He stated that he did it because it just seemed like the only way out of a hard working life.  He stated that he had wished someone older had told him that if he wanted a certain life, he would have to go to college and work for it. He wished someone had shared with him the significance of education and learning other than the mere fact that it was what was expected in most other households.  I enjoyed reading how Wesch has gone to great lengths to try to create an environment that capitalizes on the connections we have and utilizes them to create meaning and subsequently more questions amongst his students.  I believe that students questions are what drives learning.  Often in group work, I give my students a strip of writing paper and ask them to write one "why" question prior to sharing out within their groups.  I find by doing this, I am asking them to think a little more deeply/critically about what they are learning and its significance to their lives.

I think there is a connection between these two articles and that while Turkle's article focuses on the many connections we may have given the technology we use today, it comes with a price and that price is good communication and conversation.  I agree that there should be "tech free" zones in life to help support and improve communication.  I also agree that while technology affords us to be more informed than ever, we need to find significance in what we are learning about.

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