Songhai Concepts

Media Literacy/Digital Archiving Instructor

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Texting, headphones and the new classroom syntax

I believe in the smart and responsible use of cell phones, laptops, flash drives and MP3 players in the classroom. I like to think of them as weapons of mass disruption, or 21st century school supplies.

These cool tools are small enough to fit in your pocket, they're portable and they each can hold a staggering amount of educational data.

Did you know that a 256 megabyte flash drive can hold the complete works of Shakespeare or that a 50 gigabyte MP3 player can hold as much information as a library floor of books on shelves. (See: How Much Data is That).

If your cell phone or MP3 player lets you record audio, take pictures and surf the net, there is very little information in the world that you can't find, capture and publish to a global audience - instantly.

These are exciting times for students and teachers. Students who use these electronic devices responsibly are changing the landscape of the 21st century classroom. Are you and your fellow learners using these weapons of mass disruption to make positive change in the learning space? Are you working to reinvent school and make school resemble the flat, networked world we all live in today?

These are edgy and questionable times too. For many of us, the landscape is unchartered, yet despite the shifting and redirecting, students and teachers are setting new precedents everyday with tools like skype, twitter and Second Life.

Lately I've been grappling with the issue of students wearing headphones in the classroom. Is it wise to ban their usage especially when the classroom is designed to be paperless, digital and interactive? I can never be sure whether a learner all hunched over in the corner with his headphones on and rocking back and forth is listening to an educational podcast or listening to one of his favorite rap songs? How do I know that Kwame is not listening to Baraka, Sanchez or Seale?

How do we define constructive multi-tasking and what does it look like? These are just a few of the challenges associated with 21st century learning.

When I notice a student handling a cell phone in my classroom, I don't know if that student is downloading a PDF file from MIT or texting another student on the other side of the state?

Text messaging is infectious. Over the last two months, I've sent about 30 different text messages to friends, family and colleagues. For me, thirty is a lot of text messages. Just last night I sent about ten text messages to my old roommate from college. We were texting each other during the Phillies baseball game. It was just as good as talking to him. We were writing in code and in full sentences. We were even catching each other's jokes. It was cool. Texting is functional communication.

I'm curious to know how students feel about texting?
Have you ever sent a text or an instant message?
What percentage of your friends text?
When texting, do you write in code or in complete sentences?
How many text messaging code words do you know?

All of my Media Literacy students are required to take this survey.
(Click the link below).

Students note: When answering any open-ended questions, please respond in complete sentences.

All Media Literacy students please type your full name in question box #2 first, before submitting your answer. That's how I can determine who took the survey and give you credit.

Click Here to take survey

Photo of Baraka, Sanchez and Seale by H. Songhai circa 1996, Philadelphia Free Library, Celebration of Black Writing.

H. Songhai


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