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Blog #1 – Chemistry Class

Back in 2001, two years before Cathy Davidson and the Duke University engaged in the experiment to transform the iPod into an academic device, my 6th grade chemistry teacher Ms. Gierisch introduced us to a whole new world of collaborative working and collective knowledge called the World Wide Web.

At a time when most of us were still used to the squeaky tones and noises of a 56k modem and in the rest of the school it seemed as the internet had never even been invented Ms. Gierisch showed us a new, exploratory way of learning – learning through searching, surfing and browsing the Web.  She didn’t believe in putting the information, the solution for a problem right in front of us. She knew that the standardized education method of reading through our textbooks page after page and her lecturing us to death would only bore us and we wouldn’t really learn anything. She made learning a challenge, a game where we would have to search for a solution and had to make up our own mind on how to get there, since the Web does not prescribe a clear and linear pathway through the content as opposed to a textbook.

By that she captured our attention and awoke our curiosity about all the information and knowledge waiting out there to be found by us students. As Davidson remarks “It [our brain] is engaged in a different way, when we ourselves are making the connections when we’re browsing from one to another link that interests us and draws our attention.” (p.70)

For her it was always about finding a challenge that would inspire us and help us to believe in our ability to learn something new. She showed us a way of learning that went well beyond the chemistry classroom. By exposing us to the World Wide Web with its infinite amount of information she also fostered our critical thinking and evaluation skills.  She showed us the importance of understanding what is credible and evaluating what is or isn’t good information and how to use it, in a digital age where information comes unsorted.

I think an appropriate boss-level challenge for this class is going to be the video-essay where everything we’ll learn during the quarter “will be put into an important, practical application in the world” (p. 129) that could help others to inform themselves about the relationship between media and culture. We will apply our learning in a collaborative setting and carry our knowledge further into the world.

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  1. September 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Great job, Rebecca – no need to rewrite. This is a well written reflection and I think you have related your experiences to the readings. I too agree that creating video essays will be a challenge that I hope will have some “real world” relevance!

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