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

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Digital Literacy Questionnaire

The Digital Literacy Questionnaire is meant to measure how computer savvy you are. Some of the questions you may need to research on Other questions you might know just from being familiar with computers and computer tools.
If you did not copy all of the Digital Literacy questions from the board, you can get them by clicking here.

H. Songhai

Monday, September 17, 2007

Let The Learning Begin

Introduction to Web 2.0 - the Read/Write Web

This year we will spend a lot of time working with education blogs and wikis.
We will use blogs and wikis for 90% of all the written work that comes out of this class. All students will create an education blog. Your education blog will feature your best written work and your best multimedia work. You will learn how to edit your blog template and how to insert photos, audio and hyperlinks. You will learn how to embed voicethreads and movies onto a blog post. Throughout the year, you will be assigned to read different blogs and news feeds from other students and educators from around the blogosphere. You will make global connections and develop important and meaningful learning communities in cyberspace.

You will learn about tagging, social bookmarking, and tools like furl, and Diigo. You will learn how to tag and catalog web pages and how to feed that content to a personalized start page like Netvibes, Pageflakes and iGoogle.

You will use tools like Flickr to store your photos, you'll use senduit to send large files over the net, Zamzar to convert files to different formats and you'll use Keepvid to download video files. You will learn how to create enhanced podcasts and movies with tools like voicethread, slideshare, eyespot and jumpcut.
By the final semester, you should be producing one multimedia project every week.

Over the year you will amass a diverse body of work that you should be proud of and want to publish to a global audience. Below are the tools you will need to make that happen.

Tools you will need

A computer

A USB flash drive or a portable USB hard drive (1 Gig or higher) to transfer your digital assignments.

A USB headset/microphone to record your assignments and to make skype calls

An MP3 player to listen to and watch your assignments at any time

Digital still camera, video camera, cell phone with bluetooth and voice recorder

Good luck to all!

H. Songhai