Understanding the importance of one’s own Information Diet can help navigate through the wondrous perils of the 21st century. As an information consumer it is important for me to educate and understand how the algorithms of social media and the world wide web present information to me daily. More importantly, understanding affinity spaces and filter bubbles created by these algorithms can not only help me make more informed decisions daily, but also be able to pass this general knowledge to my students as they are consumed with technology and information almost every moment of their young adult lives.
This week in CEP 812 our focus is on our own Information Diet. I watched the YouTube video of Henry Jenkins discussing Participatory Culture and how we make content both in person and online to share our creative ideas or opinions. In this video Jenkins asks the question: “How do we grow from our participatory culture to participating in our political and civic structures?” By addressing this, he is hoping that consumers and creators will take what they are reading, learning, doing and creating online, and find ways to become more engaging, not just for themselves, but for a larger, mass audience. His example about using Wikipedia in the classroom, is a great way that teachers can support using online community-driven resources to teach and participate with others who are interested in similar ideas (or books, projects, etc).
In James Paul Gee’s (2013) book, The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning, Gee talks about filter bubbles and how the internet, based on the interests we share online, create filters (or algorithms) to only show us information that we would be interested in. For example, even if you don’t share what political party you are affiliated with Facebook, the company still will label you as a specific political affiliate based on the stories you share and/or the public figures and pages that you follow. From there, Facebook will be more likely to only show you stories from specific political parties or share advertisements with you based on the political label you are associated with.
Even with all of these filter bubbles already established by the Internet, we then have our own “confirmation bias,” where we seek out information that would support and confirm our own beliefs; potentially ignoring anything that isn’t what we agree with.
Beyond the participatory culture that we have, the filter bubbles that have been created for us and our very own confirmation bias, some may worry that all of this constant information we are exposed to online may negatively impact how we are able to create and think daily.
I think that it is possible that we have already been consuming quick facts and bits of information constantly, especially with the invention of the SmartPhone, we are constantly bombarded by information every moment we touch the phone. And those quick bits of information aren’t necessarily accurate, nor are they real.
Looking at my own behaviors and that of my students, the moment we get a notification to our phones, we automatically reach for the phone to start consuming. And whether we want to or not, we have our own biases and filters to the information that we are given. The wicked problem I face as an educator is what are the limitations and expectations of the Information Diet my students (and myself) experience daily and how can I help my educate my students to be better consumers (or thinkers) when they are accessing this information online?
Thinking about my own Personal Learning Network (or PLN) of other educators that I interact with regularly, I think this directly effects how I not only receive information, but also share information. As soon as I receive information that I think will change or make my job as an educator more difficult, I immediatley share it on Facebook, Twitter and/or in-person. Normally that information is coming directly from my filter bubble of liberal mindsets and that may not always be a reliable source.
Not only did I really enjoy all of the readings and videos presented this week in class, but it really forced me to think about what information I consume daily. Thinking about it, I went immediately to Twitter and looked at everything that I have been following. Mostly educators, technology enthusiasts and the like — and I thought about who and/or what I could follow to open my eyes to other people or companies to follow that may not necessarily be something that would follow regularly. I added our current Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, as I don’t agree with her strategies at the moment and also added twitter accounts that specifically post about being both for/against Core Curriculum standards. I am a huge advocate of Apple’s platforms, so I decided to also follow other platforms like Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Twitter as well.
I did the same thing with my RSS feed, adding more news feeds that don’t necessarily follow the same educational and political viewpoints that I currently hold. For example, adding Fox News, the National Education Association and various feeds that talk about No Child Left Behind. I also deleted a few feeds, like Huffington Post, as I have found out through previous HuffPost journalists that the organization mostly focuses on “click-bait,” rather than accuracy.
I also tried finding blogs and articles from sources that don’t agree with the Foreign Language learning requirement of high school students in the state of Michigan — seeing as that is more specific to my current career.
After adding these sources to my own infodiet, I think this will help me have more of an open mind (and filter bubble) as I research my Wicked Problem Project (or WPP), as well as how I interact directly with my PLN. Having a wide range of viewpoints (both conservative/liberal and or for/against) on topics involving education will allow me to think about my WPP with an open-mind (maybe even with a blank canvas). It will also allow me to be more open with what information I take in and force me to gather and share different perspectives and viewpoints with my professional learning network . Ultimately this will allow me to be more realistic (and accurate) with my own inquiries and solutions as I navigate through my wicked problem project on rethinking teaching. And in turn, as I work with my Think Tank for this project, my partners will also become a part of my PLN.
Check out some of what I found on my Storify:
DMLResearchHub. [DMLResearchHub]. (2011, August 04). Media Scholar Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture and Civic Engagement [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ZgZ4ph3dSmY
Gee, J. P. (2013). The anti-education era: creating smarter students through digital learning. New York City: Palgrave Macmillan.
Merrill, J. B. (2016, August 23). Liberal, Moderate or Conservative? See How Facebook Labels You. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/us/politics/facebook-ads-politics.html?mcubz=1