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Archive for June, 2008

This week has been a nightmare for me. I travelled to Ohio on Monday, June 23, 2008. My wife had to to take two entrance tests for a Nursing program at Chamberlain College in Columbus, Ohio. The first exam was scheduled for Tuesday and the second exam was scheduled for Thursday. She passed the exams and we have decided to move to Columbus, Ohio at the end of this month. Her classes start on July 7, 2008.

While in Ohio, I was staying with my brother. I knew my brother had this Dell PC computer with Internet connection. All the news we get from home (Zimbabwe) is through online media houses. I assumed that my brother had high speed Internet connection. I was wrong. When I went online to do my assignments, the Internet connection was painfully slow. I could open pages and read even though it took me ages. When I tried to go to Second Life, the whole machine just stopped. It could not open the page and I gave up. On Thursday evening, I was on the Greyhound Bus back to Silver Spring, Maryland. I spend the whole night on the bus and it was an uncomfortable experience.

As soon as I got home, I started working on my assignments. I wanted to get done since the deadline had passed. Two hours into the assignment, I knocked off. I had not slept properly for two days and my body just gave up. I went to bed and slept the whole day. Today is Saturday and I am still working on my assignment. I am done with the other assignments but still working on the Second Life. I have been asking for help in the Anderson Computer lab but all the assistants said they know nothing about Second Life. I have been able to create my avatar and taking it from there has been the challenge. I completed the tutorials but I am still struggling with the assignment. 

While the week has been a nightmare in general, it has revealed to me that there are things I take for granted vis-a-vi new media technology. First I was shocked to see that there are people who have not jumped on higher speed Internet connection. My brother is a case in point. The other revelation is that not all digital natives are well versed with all new media practices. When I asked for help from the computer assistants in Anderson computer lab, they told me that they did not know what del.icio.us and second life are. One of them asked me if del.icio.us is tha same thing as a blog.     

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Over the past two decades, the Internet has revolutionized our way of life vis-a-vi production and consumption of information. Higher education teachers have incorporated a number of Web 2.0-based programs into the classroom to enhance college students’ learning experiences. One such program is the easy-to-use web log popularly known as the blog. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the prospects and challenges of incorporating the blog into the classroom to enhance both teaching and learning. 

 

The term blog is short for web log.  It began as a glorified online diary in the early

1990s and has now grown into a tool that is used by millions of people including college students and teachers. The blog functions more or less like a journal, and allows users to keep a log of their daily activities. It can serve as a forum for personal statements and reflections on a particular topic. In higher education, professors are incorporating blogs into the classroom as a tool to enable students to share and discuss ideas related to the class work.

 

Why incorporating a blog into the classroom? The blog provides a number of advantages to the learning process. It enables college students to peer review their colleagues’ work posted on the blog. By peer reviewing their colleagues’ work, students are able to edit and make comments that may improve the overall quality of their colleagues’ work. Thus, a blog allows students to post their rough drafts and get feedback form their teachers and peers.

 

McKeache (2005) argues that one of the role teachers are suppose to do regardless of subject matter is to encourage students to improve their writing skills. Embracing the blog into the classroom will enable students to develop their writing skills as they post daily or weekly blogs. With a blog, students will have the opportunity to critic each other’s work and engage in discussion on various subject matters. With a blog students can see a piece of writing begin with rough ideas and brainstorming, take the form of an outline, and then go through multiple drafts.

 

A blog empowers students by giving them space and voice to participate in class discussions. There are students who are not as eager to speak up or ask questions in class as others.  With a blog, the students have the chance to expand their thoughts, edit their writing, and then share it with the class.  The advantage is that, unlike an online discussion page, each student maintains his/her own space, and he/she has a greater opportunity to speak out.

 

While blogs provide opportunities for students, there are challenges associated with this tool. It might be difficult to convince students to read their classmates’ blogs especially if the class is big. The other challenge is that students and educators will need to learn the blogging interface and it might be difficult for digital immigrants.

 

Reference

McKeache, Wilbert, (2005). Teaching Tips: Strategies, research and theory for college and university teachers. Houghton Mifflin: NY

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Last week was an interesting regarding my experience with new media from both a theoretical understanding as well as from a consumption point of view. Our reading for the week focused on the democratization nature of Web 2.0 that now makes it possible for people, both professionals and amateurs to create audio and video cultural products for entertainment on a global scale. End users are now able to create hybrid projects and post them online without having to go through gatekeepers in the traditional sense of the word. In this context, the information and communication space have been opened up to anyone who can access the Internet.

Most of the audio video projects posted are not entirely new as creators take different cultural bits and create a new whole. This process is clearly explained by Manovich when he talks about the concept of remixing. The Internet speeds up the creation and availability of information emerging from different sources or information paths. Thus the power of the Web 2.0 lies in its ability to handle the multiplicity of the streams of information generated by end users. I found myself taking first steps to create my own piece of video projects to post on online. As part of my assignment, I created my own Youtube account and I working on my first video piece that I want to post. My first video should be on the site by the end of the week.

New Media and Euro 2008

Popularly known as Euro 2008, the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship is underway in Switzerland and Austria. UEFA stands for Union of European Football Association.  It is the 13th edition of the UEFA European Football Championship, a quadrennial football tournament for European nations. The tournament began on 7 June 2008 and is scheduled to conclude with the final in Vienna on 29 June 2008. Sixteen teams are participating in the tournament.

What is interesting about this tournament is how new media techniques have been embraced and are being used to inform fans worldwide about the results of the games played. The dominant techniques are blogging and text messaging. The BBC webpage has blogs that are specifically focusing on the tournament, providing analysis of the teams, players, and the games played. The daily blogs are detailed and update. Usually entries are made prior to the games where focus is on players, teams and possible formations for the individual teams. Soon after the games, new entries are made and most of these entries focus on analysis of the games – what went well and bad for both the winners and losers. What I found most interesting are the text messages by fans when they are watching the game. They text to BBC about anything of interest regarding the game being played and the texts are published on the BBC website. Off course there are gatekeepers who decides what to publish and what not to from the texts submitted.

 

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Statement of Purpose

Welcome to my first blog ever.

I had never created a blog even though I had heard about blogging and read some blogs on the Internet. I usually stumble into these blogs by chance when I am doing research or just surfing online. I used to wonder how blogging works but never had the energy to do my own research. Luckily, when Prof. Maher said she was going to offer the New Media Techniques class in summer, I said to myself this was the opportunity to register for the class and be exposed to new media technology and practices.

I have created this blog as part of my class assignment and I will be blogging about the class in general and and my own personal growth in using the technology. As a digital immigrant, I am excited that I have gone through the process of creating a weblog and entered my first blog. Even though I still have a long way to go in terms of designing an eye-catching blog, I am happy that I have taken the first baby-steps toward mastering the medium and technique of blogging. I am interested in this medium because I feel it is not difficult to create and can be used as a hub for community information and communication. I have made up my mind regarding a my major class project: a community blog for members to keep in touch. There is a relatively large population of Zimbabweans living in the US and most of them are digital immigrants like myself. I think it will be fun and a positive development for me to create a blog that will be the fulcrum of community information and communication among the Zimbabwean people in the United States.  

I am still learning the technology but it has been a fun week. I look forward to the whole experience of blogging.

 

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