Is Social Media Making Students Dumb?

I just read this interesting article about how social media and cellphones could be making students dumb!

It cites some examples from a recent report about how growing up digital could be wiring young people up for distraction.

  • 14-year-old girl sends and receives 27,000 text messages a month. The girl texts every spare moment she can. Yet believe it or not, sometimes she “forgets” to do her homework.
  • David Reilly, a high school principal in California, moved the start of classes to 9 a.m. Reason: Too many students coming into school “bleary-eyed” from texting and surfing the Web all night.
  • 17-year-old student spends hours every day playing video games and surfing social media sites. His teachers think he’s gifted. Yet he’s carrying a 2.3 grade point average. Instead of finishing the short novel “Cat’s Cradle” this past summer, he read Facebook.

Is technology and social media breeding a generation of restless students with short attention spans and abilities that at best can be for superficial analysis?

What do you think? Do share your views.


Bikini-teacher should be banned from blogging?

Recently, a controversy erupted on the mainstream press as well as in new media about Gwen, a micro-bikini-clad teacher who entered racy pictures of herself in an online bikini contest. Touting herself as an ‘Ah Lian’, Gwen blogs about her tattoos and piercings and partying ways, all very un-teacherlike accessories and behaviour.

That calls to mind the question of whether there are some people who should not keep blogs. I mean, those in professions such as the teaching profession are supposed to be good role models and who are supposed to help uphold the morals of society. What if they blog and spill the beans on their personal lives and what if these are deemed more undesirable. What if their students read about it? Where do you draw the line between personal and professional lives? When is it okay to blog about your professional life in your personal blog?

So, many questions. No easy answers. 

Many have gotten into trouble before for blogging about work. Remember Otto Fong who ‘out-ed’ himself on his blog? He’s since left the teaching profession.  One wonders how long Gwen would stay in the profession. One thing’s for sure, her blogging ways would have to change if she were to stay on.

Some useful tips on blogging

I subscribe to Alvin Phang’s blog and recently, he wrote a four-parter on how to blog, which I think is a useful reminder to those who have been blogging for some time, as well as useful tips for novice bloggers.

I’m including the links below:

Powerful tips on writing blog articles Part 1/4

Powerful tips on writing blog articles Part 2/4

Powerful tips on writing blog articles Part 3/4

Powerful tips on writing blog articles Part 4/4

Do add your comments and further tips for all bloggers out there!

Voice Thread

I’ve just been exploring another great site called Voicethread.

I heard about it at the Asian Congress of Digital Storytelling I attended about a couple of weeks ago. At the congress, one of the speakers shared on how Voicethreads could serve as a platform for a collective conversational kind of storytelling. The site allows you to post your voice comments on something you have posted. It could be an image such as photo or video footage or anything else they allow you to upload!

So, in the funny example of a Voicethread of a mother and her kids talking about a family photo, we see how each person could present their story relating to the photo. What a cool way for a family to gather their individual thoughts in such a collective way to remember the time they took the photo and their interpretation of the photo! And what a fun platform for a different style of digital storytelling!

Of course Voicethreads could be used in many other ways. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is using Voicethreads across the institution and in pretty interesting ways to Demonstrate, Explain, Interpret, Practice, Analyze, Report, Critique, Show Off, Have fun.

It’s also a new media platform for elearning, and educators could upload their teaching materials and talk about them, and invite comments and conduct a forum discussion around the materials! The basic account is free (which makes it cheaper than Camtasia) and it’s more accessible than using something like Breeze which requires you to find a server to store and stream the material.

In any case, it’s such a fun and nifty site to explore and could even be another great way for social networking. You should check it out!

Youtube education: Chi Running

I remember hearing the comment made by some people, that everything they needed to know, they could learn it on TV. Now, those were the days before the Internet.

Now, the same can be said of the Internet! In fact, I do believe you can learn even more from the Internet, and some have also conducted experiments to show that you can live soley via the Internet without even having to step out of your house, what with online shopping, social networks and all! Looks like the Internet can answer your social, entertainment and even physical needs.

We all know that the Internet is one of the most favourite places to go to for research (it used to be the library, no?) and one wonders what days are like BG (before – Google). I should know – I have been through those dark days prior to the advent of the Internet, and yet, those days seem like light years ago!

Anyway, the point I want to make is that it’s now so easy to find information on the Web. And now with videos like on Youtube, you not just get to read about something, you get to watch it too. Recently, I’ve started trying to find out more about Chi running, which is touted as a new style of running that makes you go faster, longer without the hurt (which is SO important!) And very importantly too, it’s been said to be of great help to people who don’t run and who have just started running (ie, people like ME!).

Well, I read parts of the book, but for something like running, you have to try it, you know what I mean? And just following the book isn’t the same thing. I wanted to see some action, and to know what are the right moves to make, and you know what, I realised that that there’s a whole list of videos in Youtube with people showing you how to do Chi running! Of course, it would be best to participate in a class and have a coach tell you how you are doing, (but we don’t have that here in Singapore currently), the next best thing is to watch chi running in action, and the Youtube videos are great for that. At least, now, I have a better idea of the posture to adopt when doing chi running.

A thing to note though is the need to sieve through the info online and check for accuracy. And just as you would cross-reference texts, both print and online ones, you would also want to do some triangulation of sorts with the videos, and make sure that you are getting videos of ‘legit’ and ‘credible’ sources, and what they are all saying about the same thing should be the same!

Here are some useful videos I came across on Chi running. Do suggest more if you know of any. Now, I just have to stop watching the videos and get my butt off the couch and go running!

Danny Dreyer – Chi Running

Chris Griffin teaches ChiRunning

Chi Running, Learn the basic ChiRunning posture

Digital Storytelling

I’m happily overdosed on stories this week.

First, I attended the Asian Digital Storytelling Congress at the Arts House on 1 and 2 Sep, and I was treated to world class stotytellers that kept me spellbound and in awe with their wonderful tales and the amazing ways they brought their stories to life. I also had the chance to attend workshops conducted by these wonderful storytellers and I certainly hope that I will be able to at least do something of what they are doing! I was particularly taken by the animated and humorous performance of Bobby and Sherry Norfolk. Even Bobby’s telling of how he told the story of ‘Tilly’ to a group of students was something in itself!

Then, I attended the first Asian Digital Storytelling Congress at NLB on 5 and 6 Sep (these pst couple of days) and was introduced to a whole new way of telling stories and communicating with others.  People such as Denise Atchley, Leslie Rule, Tom Banaszewski and Helen Simonson have really been inspiring in how they have used digital stories as a tool of engagement not just for individuals but communities as well.

What’s also interesting is getting the chance to talk to the other participants and finding out how they have used or plan to use digital stories in their personal lives or work! I’ve also just joined the Facebook groups of the Digital Storytelling Singapore and Centre for Digital Storytelling !

Now, it’s not difficult to understand why some may see traditional oral forms of storytelling as being at odds with digital storytelling. After all, oral storytelling smacks of storytelling around the fire in ancient tribes and societies, while the digital story has its roots planted more recently with the advent of digital technology and hence, somehow suffers from an image problem of being cold and technical.

However, attending both the traditional and digital storytelling congress sessions this week has helped me to see the powerful similarities between the two and how both can complement each other for effective storytelling and communication. And while digital stories do require the use of technology, there’s nothing cold and clinical about it as the storytelling process and the story is all about humans and their relationships.

New media can be such a powerful platform for presenting both forms of storytelling! Central to both types of storytelling is the STORY! And it can find its form of expression through the voices of the storytellers, and while the traditional storyteller needs to conjure images and stir up our imagination, the digital storyteller needs to find the right images to evoke a range of emotional responses in viewers. Both indeed are powerful forms of creative expression and communication.

Discovering Digital Stories

I’m putting some links to useful resources as well as sites where one can easily get started sharing one’s story. These were shared by the good people at the congress! I hope that you, too, will be inspired to create your own digital story.

Asian Digital Storytelling Wikispace

Tech This Out

Teach Story

Centre for Digital Storytelling

KQEd Digital Storytelling

Social Media: Digital Storytelling

Were You There

Common Ties

Experience Project

With technology being so accessible nowadays – I mean, you don’t need to know a publisher or TV station to get published or showcased anymore, creating content is now in your hands. What are you waiting for? 

Oh yes, do remember to drop me a line with a link your digital story!

Advisory Council of Impact of New Media on Society report

The Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media in Society is certainly quite a mouthful. In true Singaporean fashion, it’s been abbreviated to the acronym AIMS.

Its terms of reference are:

To study the far-reaching social, ethical, legal and regulatory implications of a rapidly-growing IDM sector; and

To make recommendations to the government on how these issues should be managed while keeping pace with the development of IDM in Singapore.

AIMS released its 103-page report on 29 Aug recently and is seeking feedback on the public over the next few weeks before they draft the final report to be submitted to the government. The press conbference was covered by reporters including radio journalists and an online audio report by them is available.

According to a Channel NewsAsia report, AIMS has suggested that “the making and distribution of political films be allowed and the ban on 100 websites in Singapore be lifted”.

The full report as well as the feedback facility are available at the AIMS website. Why don’t you take a look at the report and send AIMS your feedback as well as post your comments here as well?