29 September 2010

Virtual Democracy

The online community is a democracy. Let's use blogging as an example. When we sign up to Google's blogger, we give up our natural internet sovereignty (could we not, in theory, create our own blogging platform and make our own rules?) and surrender it into the hands of the community, as Locke discussed in "Of Civil Government." So, online we have the same rights as any other individual online--we can read blogs and comment on them and even create our own blog as we choose (there are some exceptions, but they're insignificant).

How does this online democracy affect those in communistic nations? How does online democracy change their worldview? How do people living in exile (like the Tibetans in India) use virtual democracy to forward their cause?

28 September 2010

Digital Civilization: A Love Story

Can it really be time for midterms?

I've come to love this class for the wide variety of interesting topics we cover and because it requires me to post on my research blog. Here are my thoughts in response to my midterm questions:

How has my digital literacy assisted my self-directed learning in the subject areas of this course?
So far this semester, I've learned plenty of new ways to access useful information. I especially appreciated my mentor Dr. Burton's suggestions for internet searches, which have helped me to find better, more relevant sources about technology for the Tibetans. Learning Skype has allowed me, twice, to chat with Tibetans. Also, with Diigo, I'm able to keep track of the sources I find while browsing (or surfing, to use that fun 90s term) the web without emailing links to myself.
How has my creation of blog posts and digital media impacted my learning?
My most recent posts, the digital literacy survey and results, have helped me to define my understanding of digital literacy in light of the digital renaissance, and they also allowed me to discover that my classmates generally think the same way that I do with regard to digital tools. The various readings and blogs allow me to think of my research in different light, such as in relation to Cavendish's "Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy."
How have I connected with other class members and with the general public in these areas?
I'm generally interested in what Mike Lemon has to say, which is probably due to the fact that we're both English teaching majors and interested in technology in the classroom. I regularly comment in his blog. As I mentioned above, I've skyped with several Tibetans, and I've posted comments on numerous blogs and online news articles.
Altogether, I feel like I am beginning to master the course material and procedure. It is certainly helping me focus on technology in education in India!

27 September 2010

Survey Results

Ready?

Results!

Heartfelt thanks to those who took the survey. Four is, I think, a decently-sized sample of our class, but just keep the total participants in mind.

1. On a scale of 1-5, 1 meaning barely proficient and 5 meaning extremely able, how digitally literate are you? 75% responded 3. 25% responded 2.
How interesting! I rate myself at five, perhaps four. Perhaps I'm overconfident :) Or perhaps I wasn't clear by what I wanted. A five, to me, doesn't mean a computer programmer or computer science student. A person with level 5 literacy in English could read and understand the basic meaning of any text written in English. A person with level 5 digital literacy could function in a digital capacity (like navigating websites and using digital tools) without too many problems.
2. It is crucial for students to learn online communication techniques like blogging to be literate today. 100% yes
Literacy: now available online!
3. Online learning, such as collaborative writing on a wiki, is more effective than traditional methods such as individual writing. 25% yes, 75% no
When Dr. Dean, associate chair in the English department, interviewed me for my major application, she told me that one of the most effective ways to improve writing is through collaboration. Strange!
4. I regularly search for general information online. If I need basic facts, I turn to Wikipedia, Google, or the like. 75% yes, 25% no
This statement certainly applies to me. I can usually find the information I want with a quick search on one of these sites.
5. I expect to find information quickly. I am annoyed if my internet connection is slow or if a search engine doesn't immediately yield the results I want. 75% yes, 25% no
Another statement that applies to me. I am all about immediate, concise information. I love that I can type control F wherever I am and search for exactly the words I want.
6. I can generally figure out new computer programs that I've never used before. 100% yes
How hard can Prezi be, really? Give me 20 minutes and I'll have a cool presentation of my own.
7. I expect the tools I find online to be free. I wouldn't like to pay for online resources like Facebook, Skype, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, or Diigo. 100% yes
This is one of Paul Levinson's hallmarks of New New Media--it is free. My mentor Dr. Burton just wrote on this fascinating topic.
This survey outlines my understanding of the critical mindsets of the digital renaissance. The question remains, to what extent are these same attitudes and abilities present in areas without the same Internet access? Do the Tibetans in India live independent of the digital revolution because they aren't as directly involved, or is the internet changing their lives, too?

23 September 2010

Survey--Digital Literacy

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

21 September 2010

Return to India

I've wavered some from my focus on Tibetans in India, but I'm back again to share some of Dr. Burton's ideas and my thoughts about them.

We have, as participants in the digital renaissance, a different outlook on life and especially on education thanks to the conveniences of technology. We have new social-based ways to learn (Dr. Burton mentioned the information commons in the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU, which is a place where students can talk and eat unlike other places in the Library).

No longer are we worried about not having access to facts. As iPhones and other mobile devices with internet access become the norm, the necessity of memorizing facts will diminish and the potential of social learning will explode. What if, instead of learning French with a class of Utah kids, we skyped with a French student? What if, when learning about Indian culture, we contact someone who lives in that culture?

Digital literacy brings worldwide change just like print literacy did. Suddenly, anyone with Internet can access information that was, formerly, exclusive. Suddenly, like Mike told me, we graduate from college with less reading under our belts than ever before (but think about all that we read and write informally--emails, Facebook statuses, twitter, blogs, websites).

Another aspect of the digital renaissance is its worldwide scope. The World Wide Web is just that, and the shifts in attitudes and educational practices are not limited to the United States of America. Thus, how is the digital renaissance evident in the lives and attitudes of Tibetans in India, and how do the features of the digital renaissance overlap with elements of Tibetan culture like Buddhism and exile?

20 September 2010

The Cavendish in Me (and You!)

I read Cavendish's "Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy" for my British Literary History class last semester, and I recall my classmates deriding her for her ridiculous perspective on the "Art of Micrography" (the use of microscopes for scientific discovery). Here are some of the passages that invoked scorn:

"Wherefore those that invented Microscopes . . . [did] the world more injury then benefit."

"But as Boys that play with watry Bubbles, or fling Dust into each others Eyes, or make a Hobby-horse of Snow, are worthy of reproof rather then praise, for wasting their time with useless sports; so those that addict themselves to unprofitable Arts, spend more time then they reap benefit thereby."

Hindsight is 20/20, so of course we know what wonders the "Art of Micrography" has done for scientific discovery. We can laugh at silly Cavendish's shortsightedness.

This parallels to our oft-stated perception of internet use. We have a great deal of scorn for people addicted to technology (Facebook, video games, Internet, etc.), and we aren't ashamed of it. Are we, too, displaying our shortsightedness? Have we dismissed Facebook as a worthless waste of time without realizing its potential to do good? I can't say I know a way that Facebook, for example, will change the world for the better, but I do know that it has allowed me to find addresses to write to my friends on missions, contact Tibetans in India, and find old friends who'd moved far away, all of which would have been very difficult without Facebook.

We do, however, have specific counsel from an apostle of God concerning the digital age. Elder Bednar said:

I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls. . . . I am not suggesting all technology is inherently bad; it is not. Nor am I saying we should not use its many capabilities in appropriate ways to learn, to communicate, to lift and brighten lives, and to build and strengthen the Church; of course we should. But I am raising a warning voice that we should not squander and damage authentic relationships by obsessing over contrived ones."

Technology in the classroom, used appropriately, can "lift and brighten lives" by helping students to learn effectively. However, our scorn for technology obsession likely comes from the "suffocating" effect of misuse, the dangers that inspired Elder Bednar's warning. How are we missing the full potential of technology? How can we keep from slipping into improper use?

15 September 2010

Education 3.0 and Digital Empires

This wonderful graph is courtesy of my classmate hsmaggie, who found the ideas here. Here I can compare my mother's education with my own:

My mother, Education 1.0: My mother began college in 1981. Electric typewriters were commonplace, although teachers did not expect students to type final drafts. Sometimes you could get extra credit if you typed your final paper! And, for those times when you really needed extra credit and couldn't type to save your life, you could pay other students to type your papers for you. At my mother's college, they had some high tech typewriters, too--these had a correcting ribbon that enabled the typist to white out mistakes and type over them. Her perception of a computer was a machine that took up an entire building and was found only in science labs.

Me, Education 3.0: I'll mention a few highlights--last year, I decided that I'd like to go to India for research. This semester, I've emailed, facebooked, and skyped several Tibetan employees in India simply in preparation for research. I keep a blog and easily interact with my classmates through the internet. Right now, I'm sitting in my apartment using a laptop computer that my parents bought for me as a graduation gift.

I was just reading a bit about Zuckerberg, the founder of facebook, and his legal battle that is to be featured in the New York Film Festival opening night showing of "The Social Network." It makes sense, but I didn't know that Zuckerberg is a billionaire and the central feature of the New York Film Festival! He's only 26.

Facebook has become a digital empire, right up in the ranks of Google and YouTube (see Alexa for the top websites). Do you think, like Hobbes, that Google, Facebook, and YouTube should have sovereignty over the web? An unrelated but interesting question: my AP English teacher told our class that the internet generation brains are wired differently, that we do not have the patience to read involved texts anymore. She said that we are wired to seek the easiest, simplest source of information (e.g. wikipedia). Do you think she's right?

14 September 2010

"Wiki, Wiki, Wiki--WHAT?" Tharp on New Media

I recently read Tara Leigh Tharp's English Journal article about wiki pages she used in a classroom project. Tharp teaches 11th grade and AP English in Tennessee, and she noticed her students' high levels of digital literacy. She therefore conceived a collaborative project in which her students worked in groups on wikis to analyze books they'd read. I've just written a paper about my thoughts on her article, and I'll post one of the paragraphs here.

The time of Tharp's article's publication, May 2010, is a critical time for her claim. Tharp was partially motivated to her project by observing her students "in both public and peer-to-peer networks such as MySpace, Facebook, online gaming, and blogs" (40). Today's students grew up with computers and feel comfortable using internet, but many of their teachers do not boast the same level of digital literacy. Hence, teachers often underestimate the potential of classroom technology. Tharp's project employs wikis to bridge the gap between generations. However, though her students may surpass her in general digital literacy, the wikis themselves were as new to her as they were to her students. Thus, she "felt unequipped to set a standard for when, where, and how often students should contribute to the wiki" (45). Young or old, each of us has trouble using a medium that is entirely new to us. Tharp's article not only introduces classroom wiki use but expounds the logistics thereof. Thus, teachers who would otherwise shy away from wikis can feel comfortable because she pairs her glowing success story with her methodology. Teachers working in the midst of a sweeping current of technological change are the best possible audience for Tharp's argument.
I was excited to discover this article, because it describes exactly how one teacher successfully incorporated new media into her classroom. Further, this article has helped to pull me away from my facebook fixation. I am more open to the possibilities of media I've never heard of being the norm in India when I go, much like the minitel (pictured below) was in France. I've never used a minitel, even though 40 percent of the French population did in 1999.


So what is this to me? Am I looking at classroom project that I can analyze and report, somewhat like Tharp? Am I going to conduct interviews to explore existing attitudes toward educational technology? Will I spend my time observing classrooms and quotidian technology use? A class project would likely be the hardest to pin down--and the most fun!

Tharp, Tara Leigh. "Wiki, Wiki, Wiki--WHAT?' Assessing Online Collaborative Writing." English Journal 99.5 (2010): 40-46. Web. 30 Aug 2010.

13 September 2010

Mass

Oh man. I don't know Shaun Frenza, but I just read his blog and really connected with that feeling of drowning in a mass of information and responsibility. We lead different lives with different cares, but we BYU students have a great deal in common.

Open Access, Open Educational Resources, and Open Data are triumphs of the digital age. They are markers of the revolution around us. They are also, unfortunately, contributors to a problem in the digital age, a problem that is affecting me even as I type this post.

It's too much! I am a careful student; I like to be sure that I've done everything required of me the best way I can. When I take tests, I generally go through the whole thing at least twice so as to catch any mistakes I'd made the first time. My scholastic style causes me to spend ridiculous amounts of time in preparation for this class, all the while getting headaches for staring at a computer screen too long. Because of the way I set my priorities, the things that I often cut are caring for myself physically (fitness, sleep, nutrition) and attending social functions.

I'm actually shifting my priorities quite a bit this semester, but the theme of too much to do with not enough time resonates strongly with me, as I'm sure it does for many others. Is this a product of the digital age? Is this idea present in other cultures, who don't have the same constant Internet access that we do?

StumbleUpon Delicious iGoogle

Braquel and I got together today and exchanged notes on web browsers and social bookmarking. Here's what I learned:

Delicious: Social bookmarking is the same as adding websites to the "favorites" bar on your web browser, except that you can access delicious on any computer instead of just your own. I like everything about this site except that it forced me to create a Yahoo email address (I now have 5 email addresses to my name and enough log-in names and passwords for a lifetime). It's simple to sign up and simple to use. I find it most useful as I come across websites applicable to my research that I don't have the time to peruse right away. Before, I would send links to myself in email so I'd have access whenever I am online, but I really like the organization of a delicious account (especially tagging).


StumbleUpon: I tried StumbleUpon after I became annoyed at creating a Yahoo account. I was hoping it would be the same--it is not. After creating my account, I checked various interests connected to my research and proceeded to stumble around the suggested websites. The best idea I came across was India Google (through which I found some good ideas); everything else was irrelevant (but check out this crazy motorcyclist!). Other than that, I'm not too excited about StumbleUpon, despite Oprah's endorsement.

Finally, iGoogle: Braquel showed me iGoogle, which I had only visited briefly before. I already converted both gmail and Google Chrome, and I wasn't intending become a Google disciple. I therefore spent a minimal amount of time--adding a translation gadget (I'm studying French) and deleting the youtube gadget . However! When my browsing brought me to seek a theme other than the boring classic Google, I found a beautiful new world of picture formats and immediately fell in love. I've now made iGoogle my homepage, and I'm so excited to change the theme to various things that I love (Calla lilies, France, India, Hubble photographs, Everest, Ranunculus, Harry Potter . . .) Isn't it funny how Google got me this time?



Reflections on Classroom Tech

I was born in 1991, the debut of the internet rage. My life correlates with technology--we grew up together. My teachers ranged from those who used only overhead projectors to classes that depend entirely on Internet applications, blogs, and online interaction. Recently, on Mike Lemon's blog and Kelly Walsh's blog (these posts), I've reflected on my experience with technology in the classroom. Here's what I've discovered.


My main concern is the sheer volume of new media available versus real time. Certainly, most students today are familiar with facebook and use it, but I'd never even heard of Google Wave or millions of other applications.

I think Dr. Burton's approach in British Lit History was particularly effective because it utilized facebook. Most of us had facebook already, and it was very easy to incorporate a facebook post into our lives. In contrast, his digital civilization class I'm in now is using a "canvas" that is new to me. I'll certainly learn how to use it soon enough, and I don't think it will affect my performance in the course, but the mass of options online worries me.

It's easy to be overwhelmed by online options. In high school I was bombarded by textbook websites and online study guides/practice quizzes/flashcards/links/you name it, and it was far more than I could take. In response, I shut myself off from the internet options because there were too many. I did well in high school, but I am now wary of the dangers of too many options and too many resources.


Certainly, with unlimited time, I could peruse the companion websites for my textbooks and drill myself on the virtual flashcards regularly. However, realistically, I am a student, and my time is precious to me. No matter how high the “gee whiz” factor of classroom technology, I will likely not use it unless I must. It is simply impractical. I cannot spend time lazily exploring the educational possibilities of a class web page when I have invested in so many people and responsibilities. In the end, even when I have constant access to the endless wealth of online knowledge, I have time for only that which matters most to me–those technologies that are crucial to success in my classes.

Perhaps I just hadn't learned to discern those specific online resources that would have supplemented my learning beautifully--and maybe the next generation of students that you and I teach will have that ability inherently.

However, when a teacher truly incorporates technology into the classroom and uses it properly, it can be an indispensable tool for me. The key is to make it a part of the class, not an afterthought.

10 September 2010

More Skype

The second follower of my blog was a Tibetan named Chime Tenzing, a TCV employee in Dharamsala. We are now facebook friends as well, but I had my first conversation with him today on skype. Here's how it went:

[9/9/2010 11:50:13 PM] Chime Tenzing: hi

Kristen Nicole: Hi!

Chime Tenzing: r u the Kristen that blogs on and about Tibetans?

Kristen Nicole: yep!

Chime Tenzing: k ..so nice meeting u heer on skype

Kristen Nicole: it's nice to meet you, too
Kristen Nicole: How did you know about my blog?

Chime Tenzing: yep thanks
Chime Tenzing: wher r u put up right nw?
Chime Tenzing: mmm on FB

Kristen Nicole: Oh! I understand.
Kristen Nicole: But I don't understand your question about "where am I put up right now"

Chime Tenzing: i mean where are you currently skyping frm?
Chime Tenzing: i m in dharamsala and i guess u r somewhere in town too?

Kristen Nicole: not yet! I'm in America, in Utah

Chime Tenzing: oh i see

Kristen Nicole: I'm hoping to come to India next summer

Chime Tenzing: k...

Kristen Nicole: for research

Chime Tenzing: so how did u get to know about Tibet ..maybe connected with ur reasearch thesis?

Kristen Nicole: well, my university offers various international study programs. I just went to a meeting about field studies, one of the programs, and decided that I wanted to come to the Tibetan community in India
Kristen Nicole: I don't know much about you all, but I am learning

Chime Tenzing: k..great..so you will get to see a lil Tibet in Dharamsala
Chime Tenzing: if i can be of any help u r always welcome

Kristen Nicole: What a kind offer. Thank you!
Kristen Nicole: I'd love to know your opinions and insights about technology in education for Tibetan students

Chime Tenzing: yea i wouldn't be able to say anything on the subject but i could give you the informations on the places where you wil find the rigth information for your research.

Kristen Nicole: that would be wonderful!

Chime Tenzing: yea let's see it!
Chime Tenzing: i will be online every weekdays from mon to friday between 8.30 am t0 5.30 pm ( INdian time) so you can ask anything !

Kristen Nicole: Brilliant. Thank you so much! I will be sure to keep you in mind!

Chime Tenzing: ok take care

Kristen Nicole: You too

[12:05:33 AM] Chime Tenzing: 8-)

How kind of him, don't you think? I am so glad that my mentor/advisor Dr. Burton twisted my arm so that I would step out of my comfort zone and contact people. That practice has yielded the best results in my research so far!

08 September 2010

Revolution of Authority

Just like the printing revolution in Europe in the 1500s, our current digital revolution raises the issues of trust and authority. Clay Shirky said of the print revolution:

Copies of Aristotle and Galen circulated widely, but direct encounter with the relevant texts revealed that the two sources clashed, tarnishing faith in the Ancients. As novelty spread, old institutions seemed exhausted while new ones seemed untrustworthy; as a result, people almost literally didn't know what to think. If you can't trust Aristotle, who can you trust?

Our situation today is not exactly the same, but we can draw parallels. Though we may still trust the Deseret News as a reliable information source, we may still be inclined toward online sources such as a fountain of immediate answers. Once we've entered the digital realm, the search for authenticity is much more complex and difficult. Since anyone can publish anything online, that which is posted may be absolutely false.

Paul Levinson discussed this problem in relation to his own research for New New Media. In this digital revolution, authority is democratized. Levinson did not consult scholarly articles from peer reviewed journals as he wrote his book because they do not exist. With the rate of change in the digital world, he wrote on his own authority as an experienced user of "new new media." No longer must an individual be a trained, experienced journalist to report on a significant event--he or she can simply tweet the news. Isn't that sort of journalism much faster and more accurate, anyway? To quote Ariana Huffington, "The future of quality journalism is not dependent on the future of newspapers." Huffington is the founder of The Huffington Post, a blog "featuring various news sources and columnists . . . [including] coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy." The Huffington Post and similar blogs may well be the future of journalism. The dominance of trained, experienced, newspaper journalists is in decline.


So what does this democratization of authority, this digital revolution in publishing, have to do with my research? I've thought a lot about Norbu not wanting me to trust his word only during our skype conversation. Who am I to trust as an authority figure in classroom media in India? What scholarly sources can I consult? I doubt the scholarly sources will extend far beyond Levinson's book itself. Perhaps I, too, will come to the conclusion that my authority and experience with new media are the crucial, if not only, sources of information.

07 September 2010

Skype

I skyped for the first time on Saturday. I was in my cousin's dorm room and her family called her through her computer. I was so excited to see her sister's new hairstyle and talk to her. . . in real time! Needless to say, I came home and downloaded skype right away. So far, I've skyped my cousin no less than three times (and she lives all of a 5 minute walk from my apartment).Skype is free between users to any nation in the world. It also has a chat function (just like facebook and gmail chat, which I also use) that came in quite handy this evening. I had a rather long chat conversation with Norbu Jinpa, the admin of the TCV facebook group. I've put the entire text of our conversation since I think it is valuable for cross-cultural communication analysis as well as highly relevant to my research.

[9/6/2010 11:24:50 PM] Kristen Nicole: Norbu, what do you think about technology in the classroom?

Norbu: hi

Kristen Nicole: Hi!
Kristen Nicole: :)

Norbu: wats that tech in class

Kristen Nicole: like . . . facebook. What if students used facebook as part of their homework
Kristen Nicole: what do you think of that?

Norbu: nope thats not good for our kids
Norbu: depends on the situation...like in developing counties...
Norbu: u know...tech like computers n internet are not easy as you people in west
Norbu: so the Q of using facebook for home work doesn't arise here

Kristen Nicole: hmmm
Kristen Nicole: what about that facebook group that you post on all the time? There's over 1000 members.
Kristen Nicole: never mind

Norbu: ya that's coz we want to spread the info and share info

Kristen Nicole: what do you think is possible, then, for students in India?

Norbu: on general or specific ground
Norbu: nope
Norbu: most of them are TCV Alumnus
Norbu: we want to connect them with their roots or TCV

Kristen Nicole: I see. So, students themselves have very little exposure to technology at school?

Norbu: students have the exposure to tech...like facebook or hi 5 or else...they do internet..hafve the access
Norbu: but thats limited...
Norbu: so also the internet facility...
Norbu: only during the computer period during school hours and 1 or 2 hours after school before their dinner...and during that leisure time...some got different works,,,interest and so not much computers for all to do that...
Norbu: on vacations...there is time for those interested to do so...that's it...

Kristen Nicole: okay.
Kristen Nicole: I guess that what I am really curious about what you think of all this
Kristen Nicole: What do you think technology in the classroom can do for education?

Norbu: the idea is good but i'd say its not so friendly for those in developing countiries like us
Norbu: of with the changing time...n tech of courtse...it should do well if its used...n its proved that it did lot of good thigns
Norbu: like powerpoint OHPs to Power poin presentations to Projectors now...
Norbu: we use these but only occassionally

Kristen Nicole: Norbu, you have skype, yes? You and I are chatting on skype right now even though we're thousands of miles apart and it's ridiculously late where I'm sitting. And don't you work for the TCV schools? So, do you think that your access to technology (meaning communication with a random college student like me) affects the students at all?
Kristen Nicole: What's more, skype is completely free! As long as we both have internet connections, we can chat as long as we want to.
Kristen Nicole: Sorry if I'm rambling. I guess I am just unsure what to do with my research now. I am getting the feeling that technology isn't a big presence in the lives of your students
Kristen Nicole: And rightly so

Norbu: well i am confused of what you say...i mean write...
Norbu: wat you mean...wat you want to say...its ok you are student n you may be wanting to do some research...i got it....but i didn't get you...
Norbu: can you be more specific

Kristen Nicole: well, I'm a student. I've been planning a big research project for India next summer. I've wanted to research technology in the classroom for the Tibetans, and perhaps explore ways that classroom technology can make education better

Norbu: ok

Kristen Nicole: So, I thought that technology was already present in students' lives

Norbu: thats good

Kristen Nicole: but now you're telling me how much it's not
Kristen Nicole: and it's worrying me because I feel like I don't know what to research now

Norbu: so wat i told is fact....widely...its that...students are aware of things...tech very much...they know how to use mobile phones, digital cameras, mobile carmeras, video tech, internet tech, computer games, etc
Norbu: but it depends on the availabiltiy of resources...
Norbu: we do have E-Granery faciltiy in tcv schools...
Norbu: Internet of course...

Kristen Nicole: Yes, Phuntsok told me about that

Norbu: same way u can ask phuntsok as well
Norbu: am not pessimist...i just told u wats fact
Norbu: u know phuntsok thats good

Kristen Nicole: Oh! I don't think you're a pessimist!
Kristen Nicole: I was simply ignorant before
Kristen Nicole: I didn't know what I thought I knew

Norbu: but if you do..want u can still pursue in this research with watever is available or used within tcv schools or Tibetan schools and students in india
Norbu: u can enquire more from other sources of info...may be am wrong...in certain ways

Kristen Nicole: I trust your judgment. You know much better than I do

Norbu: u would get more info and more clear of things...
Norbu: nope trust is not the thing,,,,if you are going to do agood research you ahve to work hard to come to conclusion...becoz of diverse options and itys outcomes....varied
Norbu: looking for all possibilities
Norbu: opening allyour eyes n ears...
Norbu: try to gain maximum info...knowledge of things that u are into
Norbu: only then u get a better view of things...

Kristen Nicole: Norbu, you're right
Kristen Nicole: That's the point of the research anyway
Kristen Nicole: Thank you so much. You've really helped me just now

Norbu: ok u are welcome...always
Norbu: anyways wat u studying...
Norbu: n where

Kristen Nicole: I'm at BYU. I'm studying English teaching
Kristen Nicole: I've thought a lot about teaching English in a foreign country
Kristen Nicole: I really believe that technology can improve education

Norbu: of course it'll do
Norbu: i believe in it too

Kristen Nicole: so, why do we believe in it so much?

Norbu: but let me tell u one more thing...you have to be so sure of wat kinda tech...too its has to be specific...
Norbu: tech can be anything...

Kristen Nicole: You're right
Kristen Nicole: again :)

Norbu: simple tech which can be locally available

Kristen Nicole: like what?

[12:08:56 AM] Kristen Nicole: Norbu, thanks again. You've been so helpful. It's really late here, so I must go now. I look forward to talking to you again, though, when I have a chance!

I told you it was long! :) In addition, I believe our discussion was directly relevant to Education 2.0--new media, especially internet, in the classroom.

02 September 2010

Addendum

After my first day of my digital civilization class, I have a few more thoughts that I want to add to that last post about Tibetans and More, specifically to the ideas of new worlds and Utopias.


We, today, generally seek to improve education. We essentially seek a Utopian classroom in which students learn collaboratively, engagingly, and effectively. The new technology tools for classrooms, like companion websites for textbooks, iclickers, and blackboard are meant to enhance the classroom experience and improve education for students. So, in the same vein of a Utopia, the ideal classroom is one that we desire that doesn't quite exist. From my contacts in India, I understand that Tibetans are certainly interested in the possibility of technology improving education for their children. In our minds, the ideal classroom (a new world of fantastic learning, a Utopia) certainly involves technology. I can hardly imagine college without powerpoint (whether or not it is effective notwithstanding). My high school calculus teacher had some sort of smart board that conveniently allowed each of us to watch him solve a problem without the cumbers of a traditional white board. In both small and large ways, technology is central to progress in the classroom.

So, why? Why do we, along with Tibetans see a holy grail in classroom technology? Given that some technologies actually improve the classroom, which ones detract? (I, for one, have always been overwhelmed by companion websites, particularly when my teachers never address them. I discussed this problem on Mike Lemon's great blog.) To what extent does classroom technology's association with Western progress determine its marked position in the center of the Utopian classroom?

01 September 2010

Tibetans and More

First of all: "More" in the title refers to Sir Thomas More, or more specifically this excerpt about the Utopian's love of learning from book two of Utopia. More says of the Utopians: "In three years they became masters of the language" in plain admiration for their capacity to learn Greek. Well, let me look at that facebook group again . . . yep. I am certain that these Tibetan students are fluent in English, as is each of my contacts so far. I assume that they also speak another language like Tibetan or Hindi. Congratulations Tibetans! You're on par with More's ideal citizens!

As I thought about Tibet and Utopia, though, I realized that there are some distinct similarities. More created the word Utopia from two words: "ou" (not) and "topos" (place). It also sounds like "eu" which means good or true. Utopia means an ideal location that is not a location at all. Tibet has desired independence longer than women have desired chocolate, yet "no government of any country in the world has ever recognized Tibet as an independent state." Washington officially recognizes Tibet as part of China. Many of the Tibetans live away from their homeland as well, creating a new community in northern India. For various facebook activist groups, Tibet is a source of inspiration and fascination--this land which is not officially independent. In this way, Tibet is somewhat of a Utopia--an ideal place (especially for Tibetans) that has yet to be a separate location from China.

The idea of new worlds encompasses expanded economies, certainly, but also expanded imagination. The pull of a distant Utopian world has a power over human thought and emotion. Think of George Mallory, the mountaineer who died in his ascent of Mt. Everest (his may have been the first successful attempt to reach the summit). Mt. Everest for Mallory was a powerful source of infatuation and even madness--he could not resist Mt. Everest even for the sake of his wife and children.

What do Tibetans think of their homeland? Especially for the younger generation that has only lived in India, what pull does the distant Utopia of Tibet have on their minds?