OK, so it’s almost 8 a.m. and I’m at home nursing aÂ feverish child, which at least affords me a little free time to work on some final thoughts about the seminar in between bouts of temperature-taking and measuring out Tylenol. Ruta Maya coffee helps. I’m really distracted by this cartoon my son is watching–cartoon rabbits cavorting about with a rendition of “A Night in Tunisia” for a soundtrack (Hey Jazz and Word, which is your favorite version? I’m partial to Dizzy’s myself).
As our seminar draws to a conclusion, I’d first like to say it’s been a pleasure getting to know everyone and reading their work. A special thanks to Gardner for spearheading this experiment (and kudos to Sandy for requiring me to take the seminar in the first place. Also, thanks for the loaner text book). Wonderful conversation and vicious blogging by all have given me fodder and inspiration for my own writing, which has been a real pleasure to do. Paige is forcing me to continue this post-seminar: I’ll do my best! Makes me realize all that I loved about my days of English-majoring and writing for newspapers. Finally, all of this has given me an opportunity to do something I should have been doing all along: blogging. This has been really fun.
What have I learned? Honestly, at the beginning of the seminar, I didn’t know what to expect–I think I made that clear in my very awkward introduction to everyone. But man, what a learning experience this turned out to be, and a very inspiring experience at that!
OK, so here’s a few things I think I learned over the past semester:
- Collaboration = Augmentation. The assigned readings are much less inspiring and cogent without the full participation of the class in the blogosphere (no worries there). Some of my more significant learning experiences came after reading other blog posts–and, likewise, hearing you all reflect out loud in class. Many of those observations, written and otherwise, helped me hash out the real significance of the readings or ponder things I hadn’t thought of. It just goes to show that we’re much smarter together than apart. This is a hackneyed observation, perhaps, in the Web 2.0 world, but I think it’s really true. And NOT to say there isn’t a place for one’s own learning space … Which is what our own blogs are anyway.
- The importance of paying attention to the sensual experience of media. McLuhan was the most important author for me in this class. Seemed his ideas just kept cropping up all over the place, including in McLoud’s essay. Ashley’s post “McLuhan said this” is an importantÂ reminder about how we shouldn’t take certain academic pronouncements too seriously, but something in his message keeps resonating with me. In terms of education, I think the idea of “The Medium is the Message” is an invitation to explore how various use of technology in education either reinforces or inhibits the learning experience based on the senses with which we engage it.
- Mastery of technology is less about a prerequisite “competence” than about a sense of playfullness and wonder. After reading the essays on gaming–and in conversations where the subject seemed to always come back to children–I’ve come to the conclusion that, at least on some level, there’s an important lesson to be learned from how children engage technology (and more broadly, the world). I think the same is required of us to learn new things, especially technology. At the beginning of every technological adventure, we must care less about mastery than about forging ahead Crusoe-style and being OK with being a stranger in a stranger cyberland. I’m not advocating irresponsibility, either; just saying that we should always remember to engage technology with a sense of play (not fear)Â and experimentation before we attempt to master and control it, if that’s even possible. We adults spend a lot of time pointing out how our youth are so adept at technology, but who’s more concerned about being the “experts,” us or them?
- Our stories, and our need to tell them,Â matter more than technology… which is why we keep inventing new ways of telling them. Strange, isn’t it? After this seminar, my take is that modern developments in computing (and our reaction to those developments)Â are only reallyÂ important in terms of what they say about us as humans, and how they augment human nature, not what they represent in themselves. Ashley was ahead of the game in this observation when she wrote about Social Media as an Issue of Trust.
- Living and learning is an artistic endeavor, and technology–when used effectively–can help us more fully express that. I’m at a loss, so I’ll just stop there .
Now for the cheesy part! I leave this seminar being really excited about the future–what it holds for us as educators and parents, the possibilities for our children to live richer lives asÂ a result of New Media (again, thank you everyone, especially Gardner,Â for such a wonderful experience). As I think about all this,Â my minds goes back to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” the part that says,
I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.
And then I think about my own children, and realize that this is what the New Media will make possible. Now, time for another dose of that Tylenol …