This week’s assigned readings describe how we can use science fiction to teach geopolitics, an interesting approach to say the least! Yes, I do love sci fi :)
I found myself identifying with Saunders as he makes connections between learning outcomes, the method, and results. Saunders states “The goal of employing these pop-culture products to talk about geo-power is not to produce an objective understanding of George Lucas’ or Gene Roddenberry’s galactic realms, but instead to promote intersubjective and intertextual knowledge, which in turn enables students to develop their geopolitical vocabulary and apply it to the real world”.
Having completed the other readings in this course, I’m in the mindset of comparing our educational world to the virtual world we all live in – major gaps, and where there are gaps there are opportunities!
Pop culture products include our latest greatest technology toys, including apps. These digital tools are increasingly an integral part of our society – how many people do you know without a cell phone? Would our youth survive without their cell phones? :)
I teach college fully online. This term I’m incorporating two major changes in my courses: agency and digital tools. I’m attempting to further promote engagement through agency - students can choose which activities to complete for their marks from 2 or 3 different items every week (one of which is the application of a digital tool). I hope to create a strong community of connections within our classes by incorporating pop culture (technology) as an inter-disciplinary, multi-cultural, and multi-generational tool (college students are from all walks of life and age groups).
Honestly, it’s a lot of work to revamp the courses, but I’m absolutely fascinated with the reactions and student performance so far…who doesn’t like to use new fun and connective technologies, and who doesn’t like to choose from a menu of options to select their desired preferences? The reason it’s called pop culture is because it’s POPULAR! Their choices also guide me - it gives me data on what appeals, and what doesn’t – and that’s valuable information.
Take a look at a day in the life of an online college prof…here’s my list of digital tools (and software) I’ve used this week: Wikispaces, Weebly, Padlet, Popplet, Wordle, Word, Google Docs, Excel, Chrome, Explorer, Realtime Boards (MindMaps), Adobe Connect, Outlook, PowerPoint, D2L, SnagIt, YouTube. How many of these tools do you recognize? What does your list look like this week? I’ve probably left a few off the list (and I’ve excluded smartphone apps I use for personal). Like almost all of my colleagues, I’m self-taught with every one of these tools. Are these digital tools our new popular culture for teachers?
But before you get carried away (and sidetracked) thinking about your latest awesome gadget (or app), ask yourself the most important question: WHY are you using the digital tool? Let’s stop that steamrolling train for a moment and think…what exactly do these tools ADD to the learning experience? WHY are we using them?
We need to be very aware of our motivation as educators– in fact, the use of digital tools needs to be pedagogy-driven. They need to add value. Keep those learning outcomes in mind – whether you’re using science fiction as your vehicle or an app, when planning new initiatives, we have to stay focussed on the end goal: our learning outcomes. If students gain a skill (using the app) that can be transferred to other learning, or to the workplace, that’s a side benefit, but we have to achieve our learning outcomes. We have to be sure we’re not simply using technology (pop culture) for the sake of using it (or due to some administrative requirement or other motivation). Yes, let’s keep in the mind the P-word – PEDAGOGY.
What’s your favourite “cool” digital tool? How do you use it?
Week 4 Required Readings:
Robert Saunders. “Imperial Imaginaries: Employing Science Fiction to Talk About Geopolitics.” Popular Culture and World Politics. Caso and Hamilton, Eds. Pp. 149-159.