7.1 Emerging Tech in the Classroom

For a Middle School or High School English class, the obvious routes would be the content creating technologies.  Implementing Digital Story Telling or Broadcasting in either vodcasts or podcasts would have creative learning with (hopefully) meaningful outcomes since the final product can be shared online.  The projects could be tied into a novel study, or a themed unit and be a final project worth a big chunk of marks.   And I was going to write “it’s only a matter of time before someone invents a Shakespeare Online game” then I thought I better google “Shakespeare online games” and of course I found one.  It’s based on Romeo and Juliet at agame.com. It’s not good but they’re only going to get better.  An MMOGs site for online gamers using Shakespeare’s world and language to introduce students to the times.

But on a smaller scale, and, for me a more interesting route, would be analyzing the typecasts that social websites try to pigeonhole individuals for advertisement purposes.  I listened to a podcast called “Slate’s Trumpcast — episode Oct 24th, 2016” where they interviewed BuzzFeed editor Craig Silverman who looked at Social Media sites like FaceBook to determine which American Political topics were getting shared the most.  The episode went into detail about Trump and Clinton supporters and which ones are more emotionally charged (I’ll let you figure that one out), but the interesting take was Silverman’s comments about FaceBook and other Intelligent Searching websites.  According to Silverman, Intelligent Searching sites make a profile of the searcher and feed them more of the same topics (or products, services) they are already interested in.   For example, if you “like” or “forward” a certain article about Donald Trump, FaceBook will send you more news articles about him.  Silverman argues that viewers end up in their own world of interests and are not exposed to the “other side”.

The lesson topics from this idea are varied and may be a good introduction into a novel theme of individualism/conformism.  Books like Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 541 and Ender’s Game share themes that may benefit from an introductory lesson like these:

Supposedly there is a profile page that lists what FaceBook users are interested in (created by the user but also adapted by the individual’s searches).  How revealing would it be to get the students to write a profile about themselves (before doing a FaceBook search) then comparing it to the profile established on their own FaceBook page.  Or getting students to type the first few letters of a word in google and see what suggestions pop up — are they the same for each individual site, or do they change depending on previous searches?   The lesson could continue with searching for balanced content.  Give one example of a biased website, and ask the students to search and find for the polar opposite website on the same subject.

Part of Cybersafety is making the students aware that the websites they use — social, banking, news, shopping– are gathering information about them and assigning profiles of who they are.



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