Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wired Magazine has an interesting article on generation Y and how they interact with the world. Wired 14.04: Dream Machines:
..the Internet has morphed what we used to think of as a fancy calculator into a fancy telephone with email, chat groups, IM, and blogs. It turns out that we don't use computers to enhance our math skills - we use them to expand our people skills.
When it comes to how young people are interacting with information both in the virtual world and the real one, Will Wright says that this generation of gamers are processing information differently than their predecessors and "treat the world as a place for creation, not consumption". This assertion lends more support to the evidence of a rise in producer culture as Stephen Carson, Senior Strategist at MIT OpenCourseWare describes:
..The idea of learners as consumers of learning objects (even if they "custom-tailor" their learning experience) may be misguided. Learners may well be most usefully thought of as producers of learning resources as well.

This affirms one of my thesis statements that the students themselves are the biggest untapped resource in the AMST department.

To continue a point that I made in the previous post: Howard Reingold insists in The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier that online communities occur in "a cognitive and social [place], not a geographic place." The concept of identifying with a virtual space, which is a primary part of engaging in the community that 'resides' there, "requires an individual act of imagination."
The different mental models people have of the electronic agora complicates the question of why people want to build societies mediated by computer screens. A question like that leads inexorably to the old fundamental questions of what forces hold any society together
Quotes from pages 51-53

The society that Riengold is discussing is one that is formed by its members through choice and common interest. Given that students have chosen American Studies as their major, does this implicitly make them a part of a community of common interest, even if it never meets as such outside of classes and a handful of special events that relatively few attend?

I do not imagine that every AMST student would participate in an online community, whether it manifested in a message board, wiki, or blog. Much like Reingold's example of the WELL, I would imagine that "16 percent of the people [would] contribute 80 percent of the words". The beauty being that anyone is free to participate when they feel inspired to do so, but all can benefit from the conversation.


Anonymous William Killeen said...

Actually, the Unversity of Maryland Baltimore County has Livejournal communities, of which some friends of my are a part. That might be a good case study.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Jo Paoletti said...

Are they academic or social? I'd like to know more about their variety. (I am in the UM LJ community, and it is mostly Q and A, the occasional rant, very loosely moderated.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous William Killeen said...

From what I understand, the communities are social--very much like your UM LJ community.

I don't know of any academically moderated online communities, but I'm sure they're out there.

5:17 PM  

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