Middle School and Digital Literacy

Last year to help fulfill the mission of the media center at WPAA-TV I became a middle school blog reader. The goal was to contribute to improving young bloggers’ digital literacy. It turns out that blog communication, even with an educational agenda, becomes personal and transformative.

My blog rule: Do not blog like shampoo instructions: Lather. Rinse. Repeat thinking of shampooing as a rote, shallow act inclusive of unnecessary repetition.But a remix of this comment might be the opposite: Blog like a shampoo instruction: LATHER (a.k.a. learn) to get a visceral connection with the topic at hand. RINSE to separate the results from the residue and REPEAT linking to informative original sources, whenever possible.

Representative comments sans original post follow to give a flavor of the media literacy experience.
Social Studies Reports?

  • very well organized with nice transitions & commentary between interviews. Observation: While you give the illusion of getting 1st hand accounts to get to ‘the truth’ your presentation does conclude with an inference rather than a fact. Nice Job!!
  • Did you notice the copyright symbol in the picture you used for the Cherry Tree? Did you know what this digital symbol tells you about the use of this picture by anyone other than …
  • Your blog comment that struck me most was ‘I am learning new things about my self.’ I also like the enthusiasm in the essay about John Hancock. When I was your age, I remember thinking that writing one’s name so boldly was very courageous.

Many blogs had huge picture inserts: Not all.

Blogging can be done in a few styles: You seem to blog like Broadcast News getting some key ideas into short posts. Most Bloggers tend to be less like traditional media. Do you use small images because as a blogger you have an understanding of the ‘math’ associated with image size? If Yes, Bravo.
From the norm:
Your blog title makes me think you might like this online magazine. Did you ever think about what it takes to create an online game, or what makes you bored? When my daughter was 13 she often said like you, I’m bored. My reply was You own that. At 21 she is a fascinating person to talk to. She turned bored on its head. The Internet is a great tool for that…
To the outliers:
Your comment on statistics (a challenging word to use correctly) is actually a hypothesis on the reason for a data trend. Statistical data is most typically a point in time. Several points in time can be used to interpret ‘change’. If a change has a pattern then it can be considered a trend. The possible causes for the trend would then be explained by less numerical data: like younger users, more social network opportunities. Good Job!

On the Passing of Steve Jobs most students copied and applauded the Think Different campaign text ‘here’s to the crazy ..; however, the topic enabled some dialogue:
  • Your posts are thoughtful commentary. They show that you saw Steve Jobs as a visionary and designer rather than an inventor, engineer. He needed to engage inventors & engineers persuasively to realize his visions.
  • What you know about computers today will be different tomorrow … when I 1st used computers it took a room the size of my desk to be as powerful as the one on my desk today. Cards with punch holes feed the computer. Some basic ideas are the same today as the use of binary data, the more data you have the better chance you have of finding a solution, and the learning is connected to prior learning.
  • Many people who have not gone to college are successful. Going to college expands your opportunities to learn things, as does trade school … College helps confirm your ability to learn to future employers…but it is important to remember that ‘it is what you do, with what you know’ that will make the difference… like Steve Jobs shows us.
  • It took lots of 1st to make today’s computers. First programmable computer the Z1 dates back to 1938 followed by the first electric programmable computer- 1943Then there is the first digital computer-1973, first microprocessor – 1971, first personal computer -1975, first laptop/portable computer- 1975. Then in 1976, Steve Wozniak designed the Apple I computer, not Steve Jobs.
  • Did you know that a team of engineers and interface designers (Jon Rubinstein, Jonathan Ive, Toney Fadell, Michael Dhuey, Tim Wasko) in a project overseen by Steve Jobs designed the iPod based on technology developed decades earlier in England? Design is often redesigning and the work of teams. REPLY: … Wow. That’s so interesting. … (chat continues) I believe this blog video entry will be very informative on this topic of technology evolving by copying. About.com is a good tool for increasing what you need to know about a subject. If you ask “who invented the iPod’ you will get a few links with the story. ’til next time.
  • My 80-year-old dad said, “It is confusing with all these food words being attached to gadgets”. Do you know why the word Apple was chosen as the computer name? This one became a chat with the student assertively replying: It is because the apple represents education. I think that is what most people assume. This link has some information on company names. But a more reliable source would this link. Finding reliable sources, those you can trust, is one of the challenges the Internet.
What is your Digital Dossier?
  • It is great that the Digital Dossier video made you think about how you use the Internet but there is a good side to data. Try to think about the purpose of data when sharing it. For example, Blood Type can be on drivers licenses. It is optional, but it can save lives, including your own
  • Now that you know about the digital footprint, will you walk the web differently?

Links & Images:

·     This is a very informative graphic. Did you consider linking to it? Did you know you can link to images on a page?
·      Interesting that your blog has some of the shortest posts but you call the blog EPIC. I am impressed that you linked to the ‘crazy, misfits, change the world’ quote instead of repeating it which is a good use of a hyperlink. Bravo! Now let’s get EPIC.
·     Knowing more than one language is always a gift. As Bangla is not as commonly known as English or Spanish. This provided a good opportunity to link to a site that told something about it being the official language of Bangladesh. Linking is a great tool for bloggers.
In conclusion: There were 82 blogs.  I spent approx 10 hours a week reading & commenting.  Sometimes in the wee hours as my spelling sometimes attests.  My appreciation of Middle School teachers grew with one in particular deserving Kudos. I blog here out of a desire to make reflective connections. This entry is not on my personal blog because it represents my efforts as an OtPG volunteer. 



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