12 January 2011


As usual, my mentor Dr. Burton saved my life in just 30 minutes.  I only need a half hour with that man to realize dozens of ways to improve my project and refine my thinking.  I don't know how he does it!  The man is brilliant.

Here are some of the changes I'm making to my project:

  1. I will focus on cultural preservation since it implies political status while avoiding direct involvement with the thorny issues between Tibet and China
  2. I will quantify data before I leave for the field, which I think will consist of asking Norbu for statistics about his community (e.g. number of Tibetans in exile/ Dharamsala, number of schools, students, available computers, internet cafes, etc.)
  3. I will develop survey questions that deal with the principles behind digital literacy and not necessarily the digital tools themselves (e.g. how has the computer helped you stay in touch with your friends, how does the internet affect your academic life, how do you involve other people when you're learning about something), creating the possibility of exploring the relevancy of digital literacy in a world without digital tools.
    1. This step can involve looking at older technology, about the prevalence of which I will ask Norbu
    2. This step also involves my lovely new book, Digital Culture
Off to the prep class!


  1. How fun! I can't wait to see what happens!It's going to be too much fun.

  2. What kinds of things does he do that you find so helpful? I'm curious just because I've sometimes had difficulty in the field trying to generate this kind of refection and refocusing by myself (i.e. without my faculty in easy reach). I'm wondering, though, if Dr. Burton's method of mentoring can be internalized to some degree.

  3. I can't wait either, Sean :) I'm a bit nervous because I don't know my final paper will be, but I'm supposed to figure that out when I'm actually in India, right?

  4. Well, Jay, the miracle of Dr. Burton is that he is also available online (for free!) from anywhere in the world, so I hope to have this support in the field, too.

    It's hard to say exactly how Dr. Burton works since it's beyond me, but in my case specifically he identifies underlying principles (of digital literacy, social media, etc.) and simply focuses on them. For instance, Dr. Burton noticed that I was hung up on statistics and specific tools, like Facebook, in the TCV community. He suggested that I ask Norbu for current statistics to get a general picture that would be helpful, forget about Facebook specifically and focus instead on the principles of social media--real-time information, forming online communities, etc. By looking at the principles he solved my possible problem of students who don't use computers very often at all.