We are one week into this unit and I couldn’t be more excited, more overwhelmed, and equally, more afraid. I’m excited by the range of topics and enthusiasm that some students are finding, I’m overwhelmed by the notifications streaming into my Twitter account, and I’m afraid that this might not be sustainable.
But, I’m equally inspired to keep moving in this direction as I’ve learned more about my students and their thinking on a range of topics than I could have in any other format. Using Twitter for research allows them to find their own voices, make connections with others in their field of interest, and most importantly learn how to dialogue in shared spaces. It allows me the opportunity to share articles and credible sources which may help their research, broaden their perspectives, or even deepen their understanding and appreciation for the complexities of life.
Going into a library is a wonderful experience for me, but students often don’t know where to begin. To navigate a library they need to take a mass of information and sort, select, and distil the information down to the narrow focus of their research topic. On the other hand, Twitter allows them to move in the opposite direction; from small bits of information across the surface of understanding and then to deepen when they find what they need.
This unit has brought me back to the trajectory of my learning when teaching Media Studies. It’s reminded me of Dana Boyd’s point that “In a world where information is easily available, strong personal networks and access to helpful people often matter more than access to the information itself…
Rather than focusing on coarse generational categories, it makes more sense to focus on the skills and knowledge that are necessary to make sense of a mediated world. Both youth and adults have a lot to learn.”
I have a lot to learn over the next three weeks.