In response to some of the comments from last night, I guess what we figured was that if we didn't get to all of the different videos and things we wanted to share with you, that would be stuff that we could easily upload to the blogs and share them with you all anyway...whereas the conversation in class couldn't really be reconstructed online. That brings me to two points: 1) We understand the capabilities and limitlessness of our technology and value the connections we can make through that technology, and 2) We also understand the importance of and value face-to-face conversation. For me, that is what our Wednesday nights are all about - the conversation, the discussion, the weeding through theories and pedagogies and articles together, out loud, sometimes rich, sometimes messy and demanding - always fulfilling, enlightening.
I'd like to think that Sherry Turkle would have enjoyed our discussion last night. We didn't bash technology and its implications on our students and classrooms, but discussed the "need to remember - in between texts and e-mails and Facebook posts - to listen to one another, even to the boring bits, because it is often in unedited moments, moments in which we hesitate and stutter and go silent, that we reveal ourselves to one another." These are the moments in which we allow ourselves to be human, have feelings and reactions and allow ourselves to be vulnerable. They allow us to be present in the moment.
While it was nice to read everyone's virtual check-in and tie that into our discussion, there was a level of anxiety I felt, rushing to read everyone's and respond to them, and then read other responses as well. I also felt a strange sort of disconnect from them, and found it hard to remember who had had a sunny day and who was feeling cloudy. I like looking at people when they talk and share things about themselves and their day, I feel like I am making a deeper connection with them, even if we just make eye contact and share a knowing smile. Emotions sometimes carry themselves differently through technology...and sometimes they're hard to pick up on. Words carry different meanings when they are just words...as demonstrated hysterically in this Key & Peele clip...
The one thing I wish we had really had more time to show and discuss was something I think may have enriched our discussion, and tied the two texts together in a unique way. I think we do need to have conversations with our students (and teach them how to have these conversations) about racism, sexism, social injustices, as well as conversations about their day, their opinions, their feelings. I also think that we need to get comfortable with technology in our classrooms, especially as a way to enhance, not our teaching, but student learning. There are so many opportunities for our students to be connected to information, ideas and other students that they might not have had the opportunity to be connected to before. So why are we shying away from this? Wesch argues that "we are all interconnected" and that we should provide for our students the opportunity for an "important and meaningful exploration of the world in which we live and co-create." We have to find a way to use technology with our students, so that we all may learn from it.
In his TED Talk, by posing a unique analogy, Todd Rose asks educators a question that Turkle and Wesch (along with us, too!) would have several cups of coffee over as he discusses flexible learning environments created by technology...."So the question isn't do you want the technology - it's already here, you've already paid for it - the question is, what do you want it to be?" What DO we want technology to be? How will we make it become that? How can we best incorporate it into our daily lives, in order to enhance the conversations and questions our students voice?
Final thoughts: I wonder what would happen if we were to put our technologies away for a couple of days, and can't wait (Jenny, I think you mentioned how excited you were for this, too!) for Brian's day of Social Media Silence. How long could we keep it up? A day? A week? A whole year?! Guess what - someone's done it. Could I do it? Could my students? Should we even want to?
We ended class last night by discussing "magic," those moments in teaching that sometimes happen when we feel the whole universe aligns and we have the best class or "teachable moment" ever. We can't wait for those moments, for the universe to align, for the technology to update, for the opportunity to present itself...we have to plan and prepare for it, we have to make learning happen; we have to make the magic happen.