Many of the big topics from the readings gave me much to think about this week as I am attending the SUNY Conference on Instruction and Technology. Today, we had the pleasure of listening to an amazing keynote address by Dr. Bryan Alexander. The address should be posted soon at http://www.cvent.com/events/cit-2013-transformation-in-higher-education-sharing-ideas-and-showing-results/custom-114-ae68a22f25be4574a09b09bed9ed61c6.aspx . Dr. Alexander also maintains a blog at http://bryanalexander.org/. As I was watching Dr. Alexander’s presentation, one of the take home ideas is that educational games appear to be the next big thing, if they aren’t already. I found this interesting considering the importance placed on play to engage students and stimulate the imagination in the Jenkins interview from this week’s reading. Since so many kids today play video games, it seems only logical that using games to engage learning would have huge payoffs. My 3rd grade daughter hates working on her spelling words, but we use a fun website (spellingcity.com) to play games about the words until she has mastered them. She looks forward to this, while the old-fashioned method of writing them ten times doesn’t excite her at all.
In the reading by Davidson and Goldberg, I had an issue with the statement on page 13 about current college students having no memory of life before the internet. At a community college, I have had students in age range from 17 to 60 in the same class. This has come up at the conference I have been attending as well, since those at four year institutions describe how in tune their students are with emerging technologies. I struggle with requiring technology use, even simple things like email, because of the diversity of my student population. In that sense, I try to incorporate emerging technologies in an optional way until I feel that the students who were non-users have gained the confidence and skills that they need. I also can’t assume that all students have smartphones and/or tablets, which makes the use of those to encourage interaction more difficult. One suggestion that was made during a session I attended was to have those who don’t have a mobile device share with someone else. If students work as teams in this way, there is usually enough devices so everyone can participate.
In the Davidson and Goldberg reading, on p. 32, the description of the importance of “connectivities and interactivities made possible by digitally enabled social networking” was especially significant to me. Over the years, I have seen a change from students in a competition mode to them being in more of a collaborative mode. Perhaps I was selfish, but if I prepared notes from a class, I wouldn’t share them with other students. Now, I see students sharing notes, flashcards, pictures, and videos with each other. So in that way, it seems that social media has encouraged students to share resources with each other, just as they are constantly sharing their thoughts, interests, and pictures with each other.