In today’s world, information comes at us at an alarming rate. Facebook, Twitter, and numerous other sources feed us with all the information we can handle on current events and popular culture. In addition, by the use of smart phones, tablets, and several other devices, people have access to new information almost instantly. How one uses all of these resources together makes up their “InfoDiet.”
Admittedly, my information diet is rather limited. Facebook and Twitter are my two main outlets to retrieve new information. The limitations of my current “InfoDiet” help inform me that I need to expand my sources of information to fully understand both sides of an issue. Because I only follow people and groups I am interested in or are a part of, I only expose myself to one side of the topic rather than the entire picture. For example, when seeking articles for news on Michigan State football or basketball, I follow Michigan State beat writers such as Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) and Graham Couch (@Graham_Couch). Although I believe these two writers to be very good and unbiased, their affinity for Michigan State athletics could impact their opinions. When it comes to education, I follow my MAET at MSU colleagues, other teachers I work with, and a couple promoters of educational technology, such as Leslie Fisher (@lesliefisher) and Alan November (@globalearner). Again, although I believe these people and sources to be valuable, they do not present opposing viewpoints to my own on education, so they do not challenge me to examine new points of view and reach outside of my comfort zone.
James Paul Gee (2013) describes affinity spaces as “…key examples of synchronized intelligence. Multiple tools, different types of people, and diverse skill sets are networked in ways that make everyone smarter…” (p. 234). My affinity spaces have helped inform and enlighten me, but when reflecting upon them this week, I could not help but wonder how my affinity spaces are actually limiting me. I have come to the realization that I am only exposing myself to opinions and viewpoints that are the same as my own. Both Facebook and Twitter actually tailor their sites to adhere only to your self-interests and lifestyle. Eli Pariser elaborates on this when he warns that the internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see but not necessarily what we need to see. Without a doubt, my affinity spaces and primary sources for information on the internet such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google are limiting my access to real information and opposing viewpoints that may challenge my thinking on important topics.
With my limited “InfoDiet” in mind, I decided to expand my universe and explore three new sources of information that will push my thinking in new ways. First, I decided to follow Common Core Questions (@CommonCoreQs) on Twitter. This source will push my thinking in new ways because currently all I seem to read on social media outlets posted by my colleagues are negative opinions of the Common Core initiative. In addition, seldom would I have taken the initiative before to read positive articles on the Common Core. This source, instead, is positive and constructive to teachers seeking help. For example, this source provides many assessment packets for popular books all aligned to the Common Core, and it provides a place where teachers can visit to collaborate and see how the Common Core is actually helping students get the information they need.
Second, I decided to follow Teaching Science Well (@TeachingSciWell) on Twitter. This source will push my thinking in new ways because Science is one of my most difficult subjects to teach. Rarely, before, would I have taken it upon myself to research articles or visit websites focused on new ideas to teach Science. This source makes me more excited to teach Science, for tips, information, and places to go for resources are provided to help teachers. Last, I decided to read an article on using cell phones in the classroom: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/05/how-teachers-make-cell-phones-work-in-the-classroom/. This source pushes my thinking in new ways because I never thought before that it would be a good idea to bring cell phones into the classroom. My viewpoint is that children are in front of screens frequently, and using cell phones sends the message to students that face-to-face communication is not important. However, this article opened my eyes to new ways cell phones can be utilized in a classroom setting. For example, the teacher in this article uses cell phones to communicate objectives with his students and aid in their collaboration with one another. Texting out directions using “Remind101” and other programs engages his students and keeps them on task. For these reasons, I can see how using cell phones in the classroom could be beneficial.
Barseghian, Tina. (2012, May 10). How Teachers Make Cell Phones Work in the Classroom. Mind/Shift. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/05/how-teachers-make-cell-phones-work-in-the-classroom/.
Common Core Questions. (n.d.). Challenge Your Students to Read with a Deeper Understanding. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from http://www.commoncorequestions.org/.
Gee, J.P. (2013). The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.
Rhodes, S. (2013, May 10). CA Eagle Forum Protest Against Common Core Education Curriculum at Capitol in Sacramento. (photograph). Retrieved September 21, 2014 from, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/9330408018/.
Teaching Science Well – Science Resources. (n.d.). Teachers Pay Teachers. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Teaching-Science-Well-Science-Resources.
TED Conference, LLC. (n.d.). Eli Pariser. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/speakers/eli_pariser.