Ideas for ITGS and TOK: Thinking About Thinking Digitally

I think I’ve finally finished up my mini-course on the digital world and social media, or at least I’ve finished as much as I finish anything. The course is here, and is open for all to see. I’ve created the course as a possible unit in TOK or in ITGS in the IB Diploma Programme. Why?

Pedagogically speaking, I think it is important to push the boundaries of online learning. Current models, while effective for some forms of learning, may lack in terms of communication and engagement, which may affect what Howard Rheingold calls “attention” in the digital world. Communication and collaboration are still the most effective in creating attention, so I have borne that in mind when creating this course. Platonic discourse is in the back of mind, as is Socratic modes of discussion. Translating those ideas into an online format will be an ongoing project for me. David Wong’s thoughts on inserting emotion and suffering into the learning process are part of what these assignments are about — the self-reflection involved in the course is meant to elicit an emotional response to the learning experience. Lastly, since the course is now geared towards the IB, I also used the IB Learner Profile as a basis for some of the course objectives.

Personally, I’m really concerned about how we teach the digital world and social media. I feel as though schools do not have a conversation about it nearly as much as they dictate the dialogue. It is too often assumed that students’ lives online outside of school cannot be reconciled with their school lives, and as a result, formal education about living online takes a very intrusive tone. It is inevitable — elders talking to minors — but it’s also a sign of the divide between education and social media that persists because of the generational gap between teachers and students. This is starting to change as younger teachers who have lived their lives online enter education, but the process is slow, thus the generational lag.

I’m a bit of an “old fogie” when it comes to social media as well. I am just more familiar with it than many of my peers because I lived my online earlier — I was an early adopter of social media technologies, an avid online gamer, and a UseNet nut (anyone remember UseNet?) My friends were Harvard and MIT geeks who were amongst the first to get invites to Facebook (I rejected mine!) My perspective is a little different about the uses and benefits of social media as a result. This course is an attempt to express my perspective and pass that onto my students. I hope it works to improve my students intent when they use the digital world.

I have other ideas about ITGS in particular: here is my hardware commentary. I also have discussed this course’s connection to Universal Design for Learning frameworks.

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