What’s in Your Infodiet?

9 Aug

The Internet, also known as the “information superhighway”, lives up to its nickname by providing a plethora of information for any given moment in time. Anyone who accesses the Internet receives what is known as an “infodiet”. Back in CEP 810, my professional infodiet began when it was suggested to join virtual communities to help create a personal learning network (PLN). By default this became one of my, what James Gee (2013) calls “affinity spaces”, to learn how to make arequipe for the course project. I tapped the knowledge of other like-minded people (who enjoy cooking) with the same interest (making arequipe) in virtual (as well as physical) spaces to help me create my product.

The Sims is another example of a virtual affinity space

For me, the arequipe PLN I formed was a positive example for what an affinity space ought to resemble. Over time, however, it became easier and easier to only access the perspectives from within my courses, the groups I followed on Twitter, and my blogosphere. CEP 812 to helped me realize that this type of information concentration also had potential for negative implications.

There was no question that I was limiting my information input in such a way that Gee probably would have considered me stupid. It was comforting, though, to learn that it wasn’t entirely my fault. Having used spaces like Facebook and Google, it came to Eli Pariser’s attention that information was being catered to the user’s unique personal interests. In his TedTalk, Pariser (2011) brought this issue to light saying, “this moves us very quickly toward a world in which the Internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see”. Like Pariser, I too have used networking tools like Facebook, Google, and Twitter for professional and personal use and have quite possibly fallen victim to what he called a “filter bubble” (Pariser, 2011). As in my CEP 810 project, I had only consulted perspectives of makers of arequipe and probably would have also benefited from the perspective of a dietitian strict on limiting dessert. Likely, this may have resulted in a more friendly product for people with diabetes and consumable by a greater population in general. It became clear that opposing perspectives to a person’s own are necessary to broaden one’s Internet infodiet. Fortunately, I have found three new sources on Twitter (@uwnews, @nytimes, and @freakonomics) to help me burst my filter bubble concerning my world language profession and the wicked problem I’ve been working on in this course.

I support integrating online education experiences which deals directly with my wicked problem topic of “Reimagining Online Learning”. However, in a study on the “pros” and “cons” of online, hybrid, and face-to-face classrooms by the University of Washington (2013), online courses “appear to work best for students who are mature, well organized, and have good time-management skills” (p. 3). Furthermore, Mark Edmundson (2012), a professor at the University of Virginia, stated in his op-ed article for the New York Times that “the Internet teacher, even one who responds to students via e-mail, can never have the immediacy of contact that the teacher on the scene can”. After reading these two sources, I was powerfully influenced to question how much, if at all, online learning should be integrated. More so, it motivated me to find creative ways to make it work. As a Spanish teacher, I strongly support integration of World Language programs into the curriculum, but Freakonomics Radio (2014), took an economic standpoint on the matter and found out that the ROI (return on investment), for most students in this country, just isn’t there. Information like this must matter to me and cannot be ignored, as it challenges the very essence of what I do. All three sources have, and will continue to greatly expand my infodiet, challenge me to defend my perspective, but also encourage me to be open-minded to opposing ideas because bridging the opinion gap, may just result in best possible solutions to wicked problems.

References:

Edmundson, M. (2012, July 19). The Trouble With Online Education. Retrieved August 9, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/20/opinion/the-trouble-with-online-education.html?_r=0
Exploring the Pros and Cons of Online, Hybrid, and Face-to-face Class Formats. (2013). Retrieved August 17, 2015, from http://www.washington.edu/provost/files/2012/11/edtrends_Pros-Cons-ClassFormats.pdf
Gee, J. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York, New York: Palgrave Mcmillan.
Lechtenberg, S. (2014, March 6). Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It? A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast. Retrieved August 9, 2015, from http://freakonomics.com/2014/03/06/is-learning-a-foreign-language-really-worth-it-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/

Maxis, E. (2013, July 31). File:Sims 4 logo.svg. Retrieved August 9, 2015, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sims_4_logo.svg

Pariser, E. (2011, May 2). Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” Retrieved August 9, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ofWFx525s#t=234

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