OK, if we didn’t have enough of a reason to teach our students that they are, indeed, producers of digital writing — and that this matters as a skill they need to have — this story might be the final straw that convinces educators that we need to take it seriously:
But look at 2006 through a different lens and you’ll see another story,one that isn’t about conflict or great men. It’s a story aboutcommunity and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s aboutthe cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s aboutthe many wresting power from the few and helping one another fornothing and how that will not only change the world, but also changethe way the world changes.
The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It’s not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it’s really a revolution.
And we are so ready for it. We’re ready to balance our diet of predigested news with raw feeds from Baghdad and Boston and Beijing. You can learn more about how Americans live just by looking at the backgrounds of YouTube videosâ€”those rumpled bedrooms and toy-strewn basement rec roomsâ€”than you could from 1,000 hours of network television.
With that in mind, it might be a bit early for New Year’s Resolutions, but when YOU are the person of the year, you might want to begin thinking about this early (isn’t it weird to talk about yourself in the second person?). So, here are some of my thoughts about what (digital) writing teachers might consider doing in the next year (if you haven’t already):
- Subscribe to at least five blogs and five podcasts, and read/listen to the regularly.
- Create a wiki. It can be for you, your family, your students, your school. Whatever. Just make one and play around with it.
- Learn how to post photos, videos, slideshows, or some other artifact online and think about other creative things that you can do with it.
- Create a digital story. Even if it is only a few seconds long.
- Learn more about copyright and how you and your students can use Creative Commons to produce your own digital writing.
- Write a document collaboratively.
- Get an avatar in Second Life.
- Talk for free. Heck, talk to lots of other people for free about something interesting to you.
- Get onboard with the open source movement.
- Check out other Web 2.0 options.
Well, I am sure there are more, but ten seems like the magic number for these types of lists, so I will stop.
But, I would like to hear from you — what else you might add to a list of digital New Year’s Resolutions? Thanks in advance for your ideas.
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