Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Media Law needed a blog

Inspiration for this post: http://www.educause.edu/pub/er/erm04/erm0450.asp?bhcp=1

Before I get down to the nitty-gritty, let me say we're famous! Not really, but in his latest blog entry, Jeff Utecht provided a link to my blog. His discussion relates primarily to the evolution of written language in this IM -friendly world, a subject Richard brought up in a recent post and something we have all considered. Check out
http://www.thethinkingstick.com/.

Now, on to the latest. While reading an old (2004) review of educational blogging by Stephen Downes, I was struck by a particular quote: "At the State University of New York at Buffalo, for example, Alexander Halavais added a blog to his media law class of about 180 students. Course credit was awarded for online discussion, with topics ranging from the First Amendment to libel to Irish law reform."
I took media law in college and it was my ONLY 'C' in all 4 years!! I remember the nightmarish hours upon hours of reading, the in-class lectures that were more blah than hurrah, and the inability (for some reason) to process anything I read or heard. Once I realized I was on the fence with my grade, I went to my professor and told him I was trying my hardest but didn't seem to get it. My professor merely quipped "You've never taken a law class before," and excused me from the room. Aaaahhh! If only the blog had been around at that time. Every once in a while something just doesn't sink in (with me at least). No matter how many times I read a passage or hear a professor explain, I don't get it. Now take the example of our class. The last readings, particularly Bransford, were tough for me to understand. After a brief discussion with my group members, I got the idea. That enabled me to go back to the readings, re-read, and successfully (I hope) complete the assignment. Thank you, group! You might argue that I had the opportunity to ask my classmates for help, but I was in college and would rather spend that time talking about boy troubles, the latest gossip, or the weekend plans. The class provided no outlet for discussion, no opportunity to learn from one another. This class offers both and is part of the reason I believe I feel things
"sink-in."

A blog has the wonderful benefit of providing students with a place not only to express themselves as equals, but also a place to learn from one another. Perhaps I'm taking this too far, but I believe that in itself helps us understand each other and ultimately makes us more compassionate as human beings.

Side note:
Interestingly, the educational blogging article also mentions the impact of September 11th on the future of blogging. Downes (2004) discusses how the blog allowed people to feel like they were part of the tragedy, rather than simply a spectator.

4 comments:

Ann V. said...

Laine-

I just spent way too much time looking at Jeff Utecht's blog and reading some of his ideas and checking out way too many other links...I had never heard of Twitter! I've only been away from high school students for one year and I'm already falling out of the loop! I was intrigued by his idea that adults (and I'm willing to put myself in that category!) find blogging more appealing than students do because we actually use complete sentences and "real" words to "post".

What always fascinates me is the amount of time students have...time to text, IM, check email, MySpace, download music, play videogames, watch UTube, watch movies, and oh yeah...do homework, participate in extracurricular activities and maybe have a job. I didn't have any of that as high school student, ok, I did have the homework, extracurriculars and the job, but the "cool" stuff, not so much...what did I do with all my time?

With all this time on their hands, we should surely be able to sneak something of educational value into all that media. But wait...where do we find the time to learn how to "sneak" it in? Full circle to me standing on my professional development soapbox again!

Ann

Crystal Crozier said...

When mentioning your media law class, you stated, "The class provided no outlet for discussion, no opportunity to learn from one another. This class offers both and is part of the reason I believe I feel things
'sink-in.'" This brings me back to the discussion I recently had with Richard, which I am sure you remember.

Many argue that face-to-face human interaction is a necessity, but I am not so sure. I obviously value it. I would absolutely die if I had no face-to-face contact with an actual human, but I am a people-person, and as such I am required to constantly be around others, but as this class evidences, this face-to-face interaction is not always necessary. I have interacted more with you, Richard, and Ann than any other classmates I have EVER had, and I have never even seen any of you.

Richard Wells said...

Ann, like you, I spent far too much time reading Jeff's blog...like the students you mention, I did so rather than doing homework. But wait, maybe what I was reading was of educational value? If that is the case, can we then make the case that at least some of what our students do is of educational value? Perhaps, just maybe, they are getting something out of their extra-extra-curricular time-munching "'cool' stuff."

Beyond those initial questions that came to me, I have to say that I am skeptical about what Jeff has to say regarding students' reactions to blogging. I told my stuents at the end of November that we would start doing much of our work on a class discussion board, and during the three weeks it took for me to get the board working to my liking, I must have had at least three students everyday asking me "When is the board gonna be ready? When can we start posting!?" Since they began posting, their writing has become more insightful and the discussions have, for the most part, gone very well.

One last thing I would like to qualify/clarify. When I mentioned face-to-face interaction previously, I said nothing would be able to replace it. Though I believe advances in technology can greatly mimic the experience, I stand by my conviction that there are certain intricacies that are inherently lost in distance communication. That having been said, I think these blogs have made it clear to me how effective online communication can be, and I now believe there are certain advantages to this form of communication that f2f (AHH!!! ABBREVIATION!! RUN!!!) can never offer.

Richard Wells said...

And yes, Joe (TA), I said never. So there.