I recently read a very interesting article that discussed how the main difference between the digital generation and other generations is that the digital generation knows exactly where they are, or if they don’t, they can quickly figure it out. Through GPS systems becoming more available to the general public, more and more people are gaining this ability to figure out their whereabouts without having to stop for directions (males around the world rejoice). The article, “Novel Cartographies, New Correspondences” by Jentery Sayers, discusses this phenomenon in regards to her blog, “geoblog.” Although I was unable to find the actual blog, I did find an article in which Sayers discusses the blog and the results which came out of her research. The goal of the “geoblog” was to “allow students to use mobile technologies, such as mobile phones, to collaboratively map the University of Washington’s Seattle campus through digital media, including digital photography, video, and audio. With the geoblog, these media could be uploaded to the Internet, time- and author-stamped in individual blog entries, and pinned on a Google map” (p. 255).
The whole point of this blog is, to not only show the phenomenon of GPS, but also to show the advantages of “participatory learning” by engagement with the Internet and the opportunities it provides (p. 255). This article is rather ahead of its time considering the hesitation to include non-traditional media into academic spaces. However, Sayers shows in the article how important it is that we reevaluate those thoughts. The Internet directly influences participatory learning because it allows for simultaneous information to be found and then analyzed, either individually or in a group. Participatory learning can also be seen as participation with the Internet itself, engaging with the possibilities it offers. Blogging is just one of those possibilities. Sayers outlines this through her blog, asking students to “decide what about their campus matters to them and to document it, through digital media, on a map” (p. 255). This possibility would never have been possible without the Internet.
Another aspect of participatory learning is the ability to condense everything to one space. For example, Sayers explains, “With each student participating, these rhetorical choices–these depictions of what about the campus matters–quickly aggregate in a single digital space, and when examined collectively, they start to form relationships and patterns” (p. 256). This type of learning is better than individualized learning because it allows for multiple viewpoints and personalities to be voiced, which is really the point of the Internet, anyway.
Sayers article articulates the importance of including these non-traditional writing spaces in academic spaces because they allow for participation and deduction of concepts to occur. The Internet functions in much the same way our brains do which makes it easy for us to participate with it and through it. The idea that academic personalities are so against incorporating technology in the classrooms is both a problem and a wasted fight. If we incorporate technology in the classroom, learning will occur on an even greater scale than without it. Sayers’ article explains how we can do this in a non-threatening way and still accomplish the goal of using technology in the classrooms–it would be in our best interest to take her seriously.
Article: Sayers, Jentrey. “Novel Cartographies, New Correspondences.” Writing and the Digital Generation. Ed. Heather Urbanski. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Compancy, Inc., Publishers, 2010. 255-257. Print.