I find it interesting that the more accessible and common the internet becomes in everyday life, the more wary people become. It is used by so many people for so many things but we still approach internet use with caution. Students are being taught to be hyper-vigilant about privacy and are warned about the repercussions of unfavorable posts. The internet is this great big wonderful thing!-but we are also a bit afraid of it. It would make sense for people to become more comfortable over the years- but this is not the case.
I think we can shift our perceptions of the way we use the internet. Instead of focusing on what the internet can do to you (hacking, catfishing, hanging onto every gory detail of your past and using it against you…) let’s focus on what the internet can do for you!
While listening to Alec Couros’ @courosa presentation as a guest speaker in my ECMP 355 class, I was at first shocked that he allows his 4 year old daughter to upload videos of her self onto YouTube. The only reason this was shocking is because it is uncommon. Some would say that this is much too young and is risky. However, it really depends on the approach you take and your attitude towards sharing online. I believe that if we teach students how to share and what to share, then much of fear of the unknown can be alleviated.
This video by Michael Wesch explores how YouTube developed into the cultural phenomenon that it is today. This is the first time I have seen technology approached from an anthropological perspective- fascinating.
In regards to YouTube, not only is the technology aspect of it incredible, but the human element is even more fascinating. The way that internet and specifically YouTube connects people around the world is absolutely incredible. Even though a large portion of YouTube traffic is comprised of silly home-videos and funny cats, the sharing and sense of global community produced is amazing. The internet and developed its own culture of participation. People are now able to reach similar minds that they would never have the opportunity to meet without the internet. I can definitely use this to my benefit in my classroom to supplement student learning. It will be so easy to access information and collaborate with students in other parts of the world and provide experiences not possible without the internet. I would love to do a unit in which my students connect and communicate with another group of students to gain new perspectives.
So… yes the internet is a big, mysterious place, and bad things do happen- but it is also a wonderful tool for human connection. Yes, students need to be conscientious about their internet use, but not so cautious that they miss out on opportunities to learn and engage with others.