Social Media Promised a Voice For All, Instead We Got Troll Farms

This is a remix of UP Tech Talk S06E02: Trolls, Tales, Twitter, and Thoughts - my conversation with cohosts Ben Kahn and Maria Erb of UP's Academic Technology Services

My preface: I grew up in a different media environment in the fifties and sixties. My information flow was controlled by big corporate media gatekeepers - network TV, record industry, newspapers, magazines, Hollywood.  I taught a media studies class in the seventies and eighties. It was all very McLuhan - how TV was shaping our thought.

When the digital revolution (and later social media) came along, my first reaction: "This is great. The barriers to entry are down and the media gatekeepers are dying off." I was publishing print on demand paperbacks and later multi-touch eBooks with my students. I was blogging, posting "how-to" videos on my own YouTube playlists and excited to network on Twitter chats with colleagues. I was advocating for my students to do the same - be content creators, not just consumers. 

I thought that social media would emerge as a low-barrier way for people to share information and that the "best content" would rise in a "marketplace of ideas." But now I realize that because of the algorithms, we're not in a common media space. We say we're on Facebook, but the Facebook that I see is different than the Facebook that somebody else sees. The social media business models hype "engagement" and the most outrageous content rises to the top. Trolls and bots further game the algorithms and we end up awash in "junk" news.

Maria, Ben and I discussed the current state of social media, where we've been and where we're heading.

Peter, Maria and Ben

“WW III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” ~ Marshall McLuhan, “Culture Is Our Business”, 1970, p. 66

Here's a collection of essential reading on the subject

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Image credit:  Adobe Spark  - UnSplash / ian dooley @nativemello

Podcast: Students Make A Difference with PBL

This is cross post from UP TechTalk Podcast S05E01: Connecting Student Learning to Real-World Outcomes with Project Based Learning by Maria Erb

Peter Pappas designs learning experiences that provoke reflection.  The UP School of Education adjunct instructor is known for pairing tech tools with creative assignments that lead to students having an external audience for their work, working as professionals do in a more public environment.

Utilizing the concepts of Project Based Learning, Pappas’s students have developed multi-touch books with iBooks Author on historical topics that have been downloaded 16,000 times from iTunes.  The blog Pappas uses for his course is public on the web and gets comments from beyond the classroom.  Students are startled to find out that someone besides a teacher cares about the work they do in class.

“Students really want to make a difference,” Pappas said.  This year, his students will be developing curriculum for the Oregon Jewish Museum And Center for Holocaust Education that can be used by middle and high school teachers when they bring students to the Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park.

At a time when we’re revisiting questions about history and people’s perspective on history, I think it will be somewhat cathartic for my students to feel they could make a statement and speak on behalf of people who perhaps can’t speak for themselves.

In this podcast, Pappas talks about project based learning and some of the other ideas that have helped to shape his current style of education.  Listen to this intriguing discussion about student engagement and more. Full Episode Transcript PDF


UP TechTalk App Picks of the Week
  • Peter picked Apple Clips, a new social video app from Apple.
  • Ben recommends Overcast as the best podcast catcher/listening app on iPhones and iPads.

Continue the conversation at the Teaching & Learning Community Blog: https://sites.up.edu/tl

UP TechTalk is a bi-monthly podcast with cohosts Ben Kahn and Maria Erb of Academic Technology Services that explores the use of technology in the classroom, one conversation at a time. Visit the UP TechTalk archives for a plethora of excellent content from our UP faculty guests. Get a sneak peak at the future with our UP Tech Talk special 5 part series The Future of Learning.

How to Create Interactive eBooks with iBooks Author

iBA interactiveI’m offering an iBooks Author training session for faculty at the University of Portland. In our first session, Ben Kahn of UP’s ATS shot some video which he edited into these two presentations.

For additional support on using iBooks Author see my free iBook Quick Start: iBooks Author free at iTunes. Check out my training website Get Started with iBA

Hat tip to Ben Kahn and Maria Erb of University of Portland’s Academic Technology Services for making workshop arrangements and creating these videos

Part I: A quick tour of iBooks Author widgets and how they can be used in your iBook

Part II: A demo of how easy it is to input content into iBooks Author and how to use 2nd party widgets.

Classroom Tech: When Less is More

I recently was a guest on the UP Tech Talk Podcast produced by University of Portland’s Academic Technology Services and hosted by Maria Erb (Instructional Designer) and Sam Williams (Dir of Academic Tech Services). Kudos for the great ATS podcast studio!

We had a lively 18 minute discussion about my UP social studies methods class and technology’s role in instructional design – it opened like this …

What’s the least amount of technology you could use to get the job done?

Maria: Peter, so glad to have you on the podcast. We just had a great conversation … you managed to rattle off probably half a dozen Web 2.0 tools that you’re using just like you were a fish swimming in water; it just seems so easy and natural for you. I’m just wondering, how do you go about choosing which tools you’re going to use for these great projects that you’re working on? What piques your interest?

Peter: I think it really begins with seeing yourself as a designer of a learning experience. You work with the tools you have and with the setting you have. You’ve got X number of students; you’re meeting once a week; you’ve got three hours with them. You think about the instructional goals that you want to achieve, and then from there, you say, okay, so what kind of tools are out there. For example, there was a situation where I wanted them to collaborate and design some lessons. I wanted them to be able to share their work with one another and be able to comment on it. I also think it’s important that there always be a public product, because I think we find our students producing content for their instructor as opposed to … which is kind of a ritualized thing as opposed to real-world content.

And ended with this exchange …

Sam: Are there any words of wisdom around it’s not about the technology that you could leave us at the end of this podcast?

Peter: I would say the big question is what’s the least amount of technology you could use to get the job done. Taking something and making it prettier by putting it on a white board when you could have written it up on the chalk board really doesn’t get you anywhere. I think that the transformative part of technology is getting it in the hands of the students so that they can research and create and produce in ways you couldn’t do without it. For me, those are the essential elements that I’m looking at, not simply just something that’s a bright shiny object.

Text transcript (word file) | Show notes and links | Podcast at iTunes: #12

The University of Portland uses the SmartEval system to gather student feedback on courses and faculty. Here’s a few comments from my UP students that are relevant to this podcast:

  • Peter challenged us to think and be designers of curriculum, instead of just lecturers. We learned how to get students working and thinking critically in the classroom.
  • I liked that the focus of the class was on making a product.
  • He also showed us how to move from the lecture mode to engaging students as architects in their own learning process.
  • Very well connected with other educators on Twitter. He has promoted every student in the class using his connections to help us build professional connections and build a professional online presence.
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