This week’s assignment is about tying the three components of the MOOC that we had worked on this semester: Media and News Literacy, Digital Storytelling, and Technobiophilia. The first thing that I thought of when I saw the blog post assignment was the New York Times story that was posted in the “digital Storytelling” portion of the MOOC. This story is about a group of travelers that were stuck in an avalanche on Cowboy Mountain in the state of Washington. The way that this story is told perfectly ties everything that we have learned together. It relates to Media and News Literacy because it is a story that is told online in a news website. It allows people around the country easy access to the story and it seems to have become quite popular on the website considering the amount of comments that were made on it. It is also a great example of digital storytelling because it tells the amazing story of all of these travelers from beginning to end. John Branch, the journalist who wrote this story, really took advantage of all of his resources when he wrote this and used a lot of unique designs and layouts in order to tell their story. Finally, the idea of Technobiophilia connects to this story as well because of all of the beautiful pictures of the mountain that were used as all over the webpage which was great because it gave the reader a unique insight on what it might have been like for the travelers.
The reason why this story was important to me when thinking about how all of the concepts we learned in class were connected is because it made me realize that a lot of the technology that we use today incorporates it without us even realizing it. For example, during the in-class MOOC talk, Bryan Alexander discussed Flickr, which is used to tell stories through pictures. He even showed us examples of how people use this website and it is a great way for people to communicate to others using social media while making it more personal with the pictures. I personally love reading blogs about food and recipe ideas on pinterest. Not only are these blogs about how to make different types of food, but a lot of them incorporate the personal lives of the people who are making it. They discuss when they made the food and why the love it so much. The best part of it is the pictures of course, and it gives me a sense of comfort when I look at them and make me want to start cooking right away! Technology is rapidly changing into a something that means more to us that just a machine. We are using it to learn about others in a way that reminds us of home.
I found Sue Thomas’ idea of Technobiophilia to be very interesting. Thomas describes this phenomenon as how our “natural love of nature” is displayed through our use of technology. She says that it is important to balance and integrate our relationships between nature and machines because it is such a new and “alien” environment for us. In order to feel comfortable in this technological environment, we respond by incorporating images of nature into our use of computers. An example of how we do this is in our phone and computer wallpapers which are usually nature scenes. Another example is the language that is used in technology such as “bugs” or “viruses”. I found this to be displayed in a different form during our in-class MOOC talk. I am very used to communicating things in the computer through power points and word documents, and I have taken online classes before that have consisted of communicating in the same way. This new Blackboard system was very interesting to me because it felt like I was making a more natural connection with the people who were lecturing. Maybe they could not see me, but I could see them and I felt more of a desire to look at them as if I were standing right in front of them. in my personal life, I find that I am more attracted to online games that strongly resemble nature. An all-time favorite game of mine is “The Sims” which is a game that attempts simulates life itself (I honestly believe is a very silly fact about myself). After reading what Thomas has to say about technobiophilia, I have formed a new perspective into why I gravitate toward such games.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the MOOC talk in class last week because it showed me that there are so many different ways to tell stories in social media – even in games! Bryan Alexander’s part of the MOOC talk definitely pointed out that there are many other forms of social media other than Facebook and Twitter. Bryan talked about different types of social media such as a podcast, games, and Flickr which is used to tell stories through pictures. I have never used these forms of social media before and it opened my eyes to what social media is and how it affects the way that stories are told and I am experiencing that first-hand now that we are creating weekly blog posts! What was most interesting to me was seeing the way I use Facebook in a different light. I always thought of putting up a status as just letting people know what was going on in my life, but it never occurred to me that it was a form of storytelling. I don’t put up many statuses, but during this unit on Digital storytelling, I thought about all of those people who post statuses ever hour of every day. Even the different ways that we use Facebook – amount of activity on out Facebook page- tell a story about that person. I am now looking at the way I use social media in a different light.
Social media has allowed people to be more involved and to interact with the news as well. We are now able to do this because of how easy it is to access information and also to distribute it. We can even do it from space! For example, one of the MOOC videos was of an astronaut showing people on earth what would happen if one tried to wring water out of a washcloth. It turned out that the water stuck to the washcloth and the astronaut’s hand! Not only did technology allow him to teach others something about what it’s like to be in space, but technology also gives people the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers quickly- I say this because the experiment was done because of a question that was submitted to him. This reminds me a lot of when I was in my AP Government class in high school because we had the opportunity to live chat with another history class in Germany in to discuss our governments and how they are different. This gave our class the opportunity to use technology in order to learn about people in other parts of the world at a much faster pace than we used to without it. In this case, social media has allowed us to improve our education.
Although communication is a lot easier through social media, it is also very difficult to tell what is true and false. When thinking about the validity of information that we receive through social media, my mind quickly went to our first class. In that class, we all took turns explaining when the last time we had to get information and how we did it. I remember that at least one person mentioned that they had used Wikipedia and giggled a little because they knew how Wikipedia has been very controversial in academic settings. Why is Wikipedia frowned upon when we discuss it at school? The reason is probably because there have been many instances when the information was incorrect, making it a very unreliable source for students who need to write some sort of paper. This topic is also discussed in one of the MOOC articles that were assigned to us to read called, “Scientific Meta-Literacy” by john n-g. in this article, he talks about climate literacy, and how information that is shared over social media can be very incorrect. The line that struck me the most was, “People are quite capable of learning that it’s wrong, and learning why it’s wrong, but it takes an awful lot of work to internalize this knowledge and to “know” that it’s wrong.” It is very hard to understand what information is correct and which ones are incorrect, and when we figure it all out, it’s hard for us to believe it. As students, we all know that Wikipedia is not reliable when it comes to school work, but why do we insist on using it? Why do we still believe everything that we read? Using social media is clearly very beneficial in that it speeds up the communication process and it allows us to learn things about others who are miles away. when we use social media we still need to be very careful with what we take in as true or false, and have to learn how to be critical with what information we use and interpret.
When I signed up for this class, I thought that it was going to be a boring class about where to find resources and how to site them in my papers. Now that I have some more information, I realized that the way we find and use information is changing. Technology has advanced so much that it has not only affected the way we use it in academic settings, but also at home. I am looking forward to learning about how the news and media has changed as a result of social media and other technological advances. I have noticed a lot of changes in the media, not only in how information is shown to us, but also in how quickly we receive it. I am glad that I am taking this class because I feel that once I understand what metaliteracy is and the different components to it, it will change the way that I use the information that I find and also appreciate it more.