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Class Expectations

Page history last edited by dparry@... 14 years, 10 months ago
First, let me say a bit about this class. Expect this class to be unlike any other classroom experience you have had. Okay, that might not be entirely true or fair, but better to start out with that expectation. One of my central suppositions (or ideas of this class) is that the existence of the digital network fundamentally changes culture, in particular the way we communicate and create knowledge. Thus, at least in part, we are going to try and mimic those changes here within the walls of the classroom (and throughout the semester even question those very walls themselves). To characterize in broad strokes (which are not entirely precise, but will suit our purposes here), education is often conceived of as a process of expert dissemination—knowledge as a product which I have and give to you. That is, you come to class, I tell you what is crucial to know and interpret the meaning for you; you take notes and soak up all the knowledge, and then I ask you to perform some task that shows you have acquired the information conveyed during the class (often in the form of a multiple choice test). This class will not use this learning model. Instead it takes lessons learned from the rise of network culture as its basic building blocks. 
In particular, this class will reflect one of the fundamental principles underlying the strength of the internet: None of us are smarter than all of us. Or, if you prefer a slightly different take: Knowledge is a communal process even if we have been taught to treat it as an individual product.  
This means that in the class you will do a lot more than memorize information gleaned from a range of sources I throw at you; instead we are going to use the class time to discuss, learn, and create as a group. This class is about co-llaboration, co-exploration, and co-learning. While I certainly see my role as someone who is knowledgeable in social media, I am by no means the final voice. Instead I have structured some of the class and provided a basic outline, but along with you I will develop the remainder of the syllabus. I will try to be provocative, trace points of connection, provide historical background, and serve as a resource, but in this class I view my role as facilitator of your learning, not as lecturer. Indeed, I expect, I hope, that this class will be far more a learning community than a twice-a-week pursuit of credit hours. By taking this class, you are agreeing to participate in this community, to become active learners rather than passive subjects.
Many parts of this class are experiments in which I am going to ask you to participate (and in which I will participate with you). This means that at times things will succeed and at times they will fail, but that is just the point: in this new emerging media environment we do not yet know what works, we just know the old ways no longer will. Over the course of the semester we will use blogs, wikis, online discussion forums, video aggregators (like YouTube), microblogging services (like Twitter), and a variety of other online tools. My hope is that through critical examination and experimental inquiry we will come to understand the strengths and limits of these mediums.

So, more specifically, you will notice this class has two distinct sections. The first half of the class looks more or less like a traditional syllabus, with readings and assignments provided. During this half of the class we will look at some of the central issues, debates, and conversations that are taking place around emerging media. Here I have pre-selected most of the readings. Think of this half of the class as “building critical literacy,” learning what the existing conversation is so that you can join it. The second half of the class will mark a shift. During this half of the class, we will turn our critical literacy onto specific objects of study and examine them using the lenses we have developed. At this point, you will become responsible for providing the readings, framing the discussion, and determining the course of our inquiry. 



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