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Monday, March 5, 2012

A Visit From Colette and Ruminations on the Internet

Students at the college are hard at work. They are completing their media presentations, designed partly on Michael Wesch's "A Vision of Students Today" video.

Their addition to the model from Wesch's class is to explore their research question in the library's data bases and to see what facts and statistics exist about the topic they are exploring.

As we head towards student media presentations this week, I think of the weeks of hard work they've put into their projects.

Groups of 4-5 students, often in smaller groups of 2-3, each selected a topic they wanted to explore. They next wrote a research question avoiding bias, such as Wesch's "What is it like being a college student today?" They then researched the topic, and created a listing of 10-12 facts they learned, such as the number of U.S. students who die from suicide each year due to cyber bullying. Students then posted their research question to their social media, gathering responses to questions from friends and even people who they don't know, which they collect and analyze to include in their 4-6 minute media presentations.

So much of the project is based on technology. From the research to the collection of data and the presentation, including up-loading to Youtube, the work is all done online. No paper.

Yet, I notice most of the students are still struggling with video, Powerpoint and Prezi, and for all the mileage under their belts with the Internet, most are still novices at doing any research using our library's online proprietary databases.

Educator Marc Prensky famously posited some years ago that our students are digital natives, and we teachers are immigrants. Yet, because of the ever increasing rate of change and additions to technology each day, with new apps, programs and 'what-not' connected with computers and cell phones, I'm inclined to say, even for the young folks among us, that we are all of us immigrants to this new world of communication.

It's more than just new ground for us all. It's new ground with tremendous potential and promise. I've been reading Seth Godin and have just finished Hugh Macleod's fine treatise on creating a job for yourself in this digital era, "Ignore Everybody and 39 other keys to creativity." "Ignore Everybody"

Both encourage writers to blog and be witnesses to their own truths and discoveries. I celebrate our human urge to share of ourselves.

I don't know where she came from, but in all this rumination over the Internet, I was visited by an old friend, Colette, the French writer who died the year I was born.

I loved her stormy life and her contribution to letters, and remember the difficulties she faced as a woman writer. I ask myself just what would have Colette done with the very writing tools that I have before me today, computers and Internet and a way to publish her work aujourd'hui? 

Some things change, and others stay the same. Here is old Lucky, enjoying the warmth of the hearth and grooming his Maine Coon fur, carrying on the tradition of accompanying his well-trained owner-writer as she picks and pecks upon the alphabet.

1 comment:

  1. A very good question - what indeed would Colette have made of us all today? She would have been just as strong and opinionated, I'm sure!