Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do You Teach Your Students How to Analyze and Evaluate Micro-Messages?

An article for all educators to read over at TechCrunch today.

It concerns micro-messaging and realtime streams. Micro-messaging is fast become a standard -- if not the standard -- form of realtime communication online; and as the article argues:
Whoever is in the driver’s seat of this micro-message bus will be in an enviable position, which is why everyone is trying to clamor aboard in hopes of taking over the wheel.

If you are like me, you already do more of your communicating online via Twitter than by email. More importantly, it's these streams of information that many of us are becoming more and more dependent upon for getting good value out of the Internet.

The ability to navigate this realtime stream and to teach our students how to get, analyze, and evaluate information coming through on it is a priority skill -- a real network-based immediate-global-connection skill. It's also a little hint of where we are headed as the semantic web develops.


  1. My sense is there is a big difference between guiding folks toward development of skills that help them to critically evaluate the veracity of an internet site (e.g., for content to use in a report) versus what you describe here as "micro-messages." The former has to do with literacy and the latter has to do with personal subjectivities. In other words, we can help folks develop a framework for determining the "value" of a website, yet I'm left to question how much we (educators) have to do with guiding individual, unique, free-thinking students in their evaluation of, and affinity towards, micro-messages. Beyond modeling at all times and outting our ways of being, those salient to our own consumption and valuing of micro-messages in this case. Perhaps somethings are left "un taught" i.e. loose.

  2. @GNA

    Good point.

    I think, however, that none of us quite understand what the growing content on the sematic end of the Web means; and therefore, I'm not really talking about whether or not a student agrees or disagrees with a micro-message -- I'm in fact interested if they understand what a micro-message actually is.

    It is in the same way that I'm not interested in whether they like or dislike a particular poem, but want them to understand what poetry is.


  3. hmmm. I find wanting students to understand what poetry "is" problematic. Perhaps you mean its purpose instead--which makes sense to me and sets asides (as much as possible) value judgements on the surface. Yet if I see it my role to define constructs and phenomena, "hot cognition" an example from my domain, am I not bounding students' teaching and learning by my epistemology? I believe co creating a challenging & supportive "problem space" situated within the broader instructional goals of the day (semester) provides students with latitude to indeed come to understand what hot cognition (or poetry) "is" to themselves. GNA

  4. @GNA

    I refuse to define what my definition of is is.

    ; )

    Another good point, and one I imagine Plato and Aristotle argued over quite a bit. I like your use of 'problem space' as I think that open-ended questions and regular jumps into the intellectual sandbox tend to produce better results than most pedagogical affectations.

  5. Indeed. Better results and suprises (at times). One turd I frequently uncover in the sandbox, when working with adult learners, is undisciplined habits of mind related to critical thinking and problem finding (rather than intuitive problem "solving"). On the affective side, the big one (turd that is), is the knee-jerk, negative emotional reaction to cognitive dissonance (in action this looks most often like emotional and intellectual retreat from the learning community, and psychic angst acted out towards me directly). In my practice, this exemplifies the short "jump" between the intellectual sandbox that exists on our playground/problem space/learning community and my pedagogical affectivities (e.g., comfort with dissonance). And, as with my similarly inclined kith & colleagues, at times, I unearth long-burried "elements" in the sandbox. G

  6. @G

    Dissonance is more or less the natural vibration of things in vibration with one another (or, perhaps more precisely 'next to one another').

    Dissonance is natural... the stuff of String Theory and Thelonius Monk. It's just that some folks are more attuned to certain dissonances more than others and therefore redub it harmony or cacophony or beautiful or chaotic or clumsy or saintly so long as it suits their expectations. We are all guilty/proud of this.

    And after all, who really 'hears' better, the maestro or the tin-ear?

    I'm more than happy to just accept the microtones for what they are... musical, pedagogical, philosophical, or otherwise.

    I'm an intellectual trombone.



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