Friday, March 03, 2006

creativity in the classroom

as we head into the tenth and last week of the quarter, my students in basic concepts of new media have really turned on the creativity. also, they have begun, slowly but steadily, to learn how to share ideas, collaborate, and think collectively.

the course topic -- new media -- is large, unwieldy, and shifting before our eyes. so a few weeks into the quarter, i made a strong move and decided to focus most of our attention and all of our application to facebook -- a social networking service already used and abused by students at UW and around the US. (more info? wikipedia.) having students read about, research, and build on facebook generates much, much more engagement than having them read about and explore older online environments like, for example, lambdaMOO.

due to facebook's newness, there is little academic writing on it. therefore, i had students read about and research the larger topic of social networking services which includes sites like facebook, friendster, myspace, and even flickr. the following were quite helpful:
danah boyd & Jeffrey Heer, "Profiles as Conversation: Networked Identity Performance on Friendster" -- this article is great and generated tons of engaged discussion. a lot of light bulbs went off with this reading.

Eszter Hargittai, "A twist on online communities" -- this is a thought-provoking romp through flickr, revealing the site to be quite more than a simple photo-swapping web site. i had students read this essay and then write a similar essay on facebook.

Alice Marwick, "Selling Your Self: Identity Online in the Age of a Commodified Internet" -- this is alice's MA thesis, a true tour-de-force. i did not assign it in class but throughout the quarter i found myself returning to this work, consulting it, and deriving lecture ideas from it.
the final project, which is due next week, gives students three options: 1) build something inspired on facebook; 2) write something inspired about facebook; 3) explore the intersections between their major (communication, business, psychology, etc) and facebook. the students -- some working in groups, some working alone -- are being exceedingly creative on this project and are really knocking me out with new ideas.

i can't wait to see what they create.


At 3/03/2006 4:11 PM, Anonymous ig said...

wow this is very cool! i love the idea of engaging students through examining their own environment. can't wait to see the projects.

At 3/05/2006 8:23 AM, Blogger david silver said...

me too. hey, we should put together an informal brownbag discussion at CIDR on technology and teaching. you can talk about using urban archives in the classroom; i could talk about facebook in the classroom; and we could invite students to offer their feedback, ideas, and experiences.

At 3/05/2006 11:32 AM, Anonymous ig said...

hmm..i like it, let's do it


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