07 August 2010

Facebook and New New Media


Today I began a facebook discussion in the TCV group. As Katherine suggested in the comment below, I wanted to show how my research will actually benefit them, so I looked up the goals of the TCV and related two of them to my research. Here's part of what I posted to begin the facebook discussion:

TCV Goal: "Provide effective modern and Tibetan education."

Especially for the modern aspect of the goal, I am seeking to more fully incorporate modern technology into Tibetan education. Clearly, as they're all on facebook, they're just as technologically advanced as I am, but from my own recent experience I think there is a lot of power through technology that education hardly taps.

TCV Goal: "Provide suitable and effective life and career guidance for social and citizenship skills."

Technology is the way of the future. I believe that technological competence will be increasingly requisite for any job, let alone the vast number of jobs for which it already is. The Tibetan community isn't resisting technological expansion--on the contrary, the Dalai Lama has facebook, Twitter, podcasts, and is featured in various YouTube videos. But to what extent is the resource of technology utilized in the classroom for the benefit of the students? I recently took a course in British Literary History and my professor (Dr. Burton) used Facebook for group discussions. That same professor taught a research course in which he required his students to write research blogs.

As I reflect on the use of facebook for British lit history, I marvel in their effectiveness for our class. We'd essentially conduct the class discussion online before even arriving to class. Once class began, Dr. Burton would note what we covered well in the facebook discussion and go over the things that we missed. Thus, we didn't waste any time in class reviewing those aspects of the reading which we all understood well. We were motivated to complete the reading on time so as to avoid the shame of not posting or posting something lame. I was exposed to the brilliant thinking of my peers, and I became closely acquainted with those specific things that Dr. Burton wanted us to remember about the early history of British literature.

I need to switch gears quickly and address Paul Levinson's New New Media. I'm quite fascinated with it and I've nearly read the whole thing in just a few days! First, let me give Levinson's definition of new new media: Every consumer of new new media is (can be) a producer, it's nonprofessional, free, competitive and mutually catalytic. His examples are also the titles of each chapter in his book: blogging, YouTube, Wikipedia, Digg, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life and podcasts.

Nephi wants me to read peer-reviewed material and find the ways that I can justify my methodology. He wants me to not only observe that which these scholars write but also how they use their sources. Levinson addresses this issue in the first chapter of his book. His book, published in 2009, states on page 8 that "most of the sources cited in this book are articles on the Web, for the simple reason that most current books that seek to address new new media, by whatever name, are out of date--even if published in 2008." Levinson goes on to say, "the prime source of much of the information in this book will be what I have learned in my excursions--my work as a writer, producer and publicist--in all the new new media we will consider here."

Likely, my experience will be much the same. While I can find peer-reviewed articles about email, I don't know that I'll find any about Twitter. I have thus far imagined that my field study will be an experiment, such as using facebook as the core tool for homework, from which I would analyze the benefits and potential benefits of such a practice if regularly implemented in classrooms. Perhaps this is narrow-minded, but it seems to me that such an approach would be solid and yield concrete results.

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