Web 2.0 Tools and Media Sharing? Let’s Talk Versatility and Creativity

Don’t look to me for a feel-good story about podcasting…

Podcasts have been used in a few of my classes and I always choose to read the transcript instead, if there is one available. That’s because I can read the transcript at my own pace – rereading and writing notes – without the added need for manipulating a recording while attempting to attend to the spoken word and comprehending through slow speech, a monotone voice, or unfamiliar accents. This may not be the PC answer that you were looking for, but I calls ’em as I sees ’em.

What’s the big deal? Content is content in a podcast. If you want to learn about quantum mechanics, Stanford has provided some podcasts for that. And look no further than Yale for podcasts on the philosophy of death. If you want to learn how to create a podcast, there is a podcast for that! [Here comes the but.] But, there is no interaction with the presenter in a podcast. 

Learning in Isolation

Learning in Isolation

There are no opportunities for further discussion or to ask the speaker for clarification. The most that one can hope for is a comment box (to where…nowhere?). Now, provide me with synchronous access to an individual of interest who has knowledge or experiences to share and – absolutely – I want to see and hear them, but there is potential for interaction in that experience! For me, that interaction makes all the difference…

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not stating that there is no value in podcasting. Absolutely not. All that I am saying is that emerging technologies have given us new and exciting options and that we should consider fit – fit to objectives, fit to content, fit to context – before we decide how to incorporate them into our practice.

This brings me to my first point – versatility. Some of my peers really enjoyed that opportunity to listen to podcasts. They liked hearing the content – they found that they could attend to it well through listening and/or watching and they liked being able to listen in the car, on the treadmill, etc. I am not good at attending to the spoken word. My mind wanders – just like it did back in the fifth grade – and I find myself staring out the window and daydreaming about lunch and recess. Hey, at least I’m honest.

Versatility is about a variety of options for providing and consuming content, in addition to the co-creation of new content. The other fantastic thing about Web 2.0 is the creativity that can be harnessed in the co-creation of content with the existence of emerging technologies and the media sharing that they support.  As a learner, would you rather hear that you are going to be watching a movie or making a movie? Like podcasting, watching a movie represents a unidirectional flow of content. Of course, discussion points or activities may be added throughout, but the movie itself is just slightly more exciting than reading text with lots of pictures. After all, in a movie, the pictures move…

What happens when the boundaries that traditionally define and separate the roles of teacher and learner are blurred and content is co-created with digital media rather than just being consumed? Creativity takes over and shared media allows the learners and the learning to enter the global classroom. Global classrooms are not restricted by walls and rosters. Just the opposite. Global classrooms share and build on content. Global classrooms are student-directed, networked, participatory learning experiences. What does that mean? Can’t imagine what that looks like? Well, watch this! Or this!

Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

A Vision of Students Today

So, what, exactly, is this? This is a digital ethnography project that was led by Dr. Michael Wesch, a cultural anthropologist and 2008 U.S. Professor of the Year, when he was teaching at Kansas State University. This is his story on how digital media has taken off exponentially and how his project, Mediated Cultures, came to be. When it comes to unpacking the impacts of new digital media on the Web, Dr. Wesch says it best in that “it’s not just about information, it’s actually about linking people…and linking people in ways that we have never been linked before and in ways that we can’t even predict.” 

Emerging technologies and digital media give us new tools and new opportunities for teaching and learning. They give us versatility in how we present and exchange information and foster creativity in how we share media, apply it to our own unique context, and  co-create new content through collaborative knowledge building. Offering a variety of methods with which to interact and exchange and create content puts the learner in the driver’s seat. The learner can then choose the optimal method to accommodate the how, when, and where of their learning experience and determine the size of their own classroom. Versatility and creativity in teaching and learning, of that I am a fan.

4 responses to “Web 2.0 Tools and Media Sharing? Let’s Talk Versatility and Creativity

  1. I admit that my content tends to be word-dense. Now that I am also contributing to the blog, The Corner of College & Allen (http://studentblog.worldcampus.psu.edu/index.php/meet-debra-mynar/), I am gaining some great insight on presentation and aesthetics. Honestly, I have a difficult time getting WordPress to play well with multiple graphics or multimedia in a single blog post. You are right, though. This is really something that I need to work on and you have convinced me to bump it up the priority list!

    On presentation, part of my struggle involves finding the balance between the informal writing (with graphics and multimedia additions) that others might be most interested in experiencing and the academic writing that I am expected to produce in my graduate program. Of course, I am also trying to appropriately blend my personal reflections with enough background and support resources to make my blog posts worth reading to begin with. ;-)

    Thanks for your feedback!

  2. Deb, your comments generated a lot of thought in regards to how I view reading texts versus listening to commentary. Your statement concerning your mind wandering off to recess or lunch was spot on for me. My mind actually wanders while I am reading text, but I quickly reel myself back to that material. If I am multi-tasking, such as driving a car, do I really want to concentrate on an iPod? Maybe if I replay it over and over there is a subliminal message being stored away. Emerging technologies is the key, as the cream will flow to the top and individuals can choose their formats. Students have many options and the freedom to choose the format which what works best for them. Better yet, they have teachers that understand the “Versatility and creativity in teaching and learning.”

  3. That’s what I love about web 2.0 tools: we all learn differently and these tools make it much easier for teachers to provide options that will reach out to all of us, whether we like to view, listen or actively participate. I also agree that the biggest benefits to many of these tools are when we put them in students’ hands to create their own projects. Just as all of the members of our grad class take the same reading material and come up with drastically different blog entries based on our own education, life experiences and basic perspective, as a teacher I’m constantly amazed by the results my students come up with when given the background information and a set of tools to work with.

  4. Stephanie Novotny

    Deb,
    I’m glad I was able to read your blog about “the other side of podcasting”.. the “not so good side”. When I read about podcasting, i thought, wow… this is just fantastic… I can’t imagine someone challenging the idea of how beneficial podcasting can be… but you have changed my views…

    When you said:
    “That’s because I can read the transcript at my own pace – rereading and writing notes – without the added need for manipulating a recording while attempting to attend to the spoken word and comprehending through slow speech, a monotone voice, or unfamiliar accents. ”

    I never would have thought that a podcast would not be beneficial to some people, but now I completely understand your point. I am too, the type of person who likes to reread material and take notes. And i am not a fan of re-listening to a professor’s lecture whose voice is monotone or with an accent that I have trouble understanding.

    I guess the good thing, in your instance is that if you did need to revisit a lecture or a recording of some sort, that podcasting gives you the opportunity to do so, rather than just trying to rack your brains and come up with material that you are not so sure is what you actually heard.

    You have opened my eyes to another perspective on Podcasting. This is what I love about blogs. No matter what we write, we are teachers to each other by writing our own thoughts and opinions and opening the eyes of others who only thought of one side to a story.

    Thanks, Deb!