I’ve been pretty tied up with my two Masters subjects this semester and on reflection one would have been more than enough! However, the end is in sight and I’ve learned a greaat deal along the way – mostly about myself (as seems to be the case) as well as having lots of support in many forms, online and physically speaking.
One such help has been access to Google Books. What a fabulous service! I’ve always dipped into Google Books on occassions and then have used either my institute’s library or online databases to grab the actual book or journal article if available. However, as I’ve been studying my Masters by distance (supplemented with online resources and interactions), I’ve had less than ideal access to key texts in many cases. Google books has come to my rescue! I have built up a library of books I’ve been reading over the last few months and have added labels/tags for quick searching when I’ve needed to return to a book or theme, such as ‘critical pedagogy’. The extension tools also look worthwhile; adding your booklist or library to your blog or sharing via an RSS feed, or even posting a review if you feel the urge.
In addition to Google Books, I’ve also been keeping a collection of sites, videos and articles via my delicious account. Here’s an example for my subject, Education for Social Change. Both services have been invaluable not only in collecting information, but in organising and collating information in meaningful ways, through tagging, adding notes (often I include an abstract from the site or article) and combining tags to drill down into the information I’ve collected over time. I use keyword tags together with time/date type of tags to help narrow down information (very helpful as I’ve managed to stretch my Masters out over 3 years!).
My next and final essay is for the subject, Education for Social Change. I’d like to explore the idea that the rise of social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and other sites has inadvertantly served to further embed us as ‘automaton conformists’ (Erich Fromm). I could look at Chomsky and the role of mass media, as sites like these are often owned by large corporations in many cases, but I’m more curious to explore Fromm’s notion of ‘fear of freedom’ and a phrase my lecturer, Rick, mentioned on a recent discussion thread, that is, ‘group think’. It also calls for a rethink in education about digital literacy and developing the digital citizen for a connected future.
This is close to my heart, with regards to my work, where we often promote social networking tools like blogs and wikis to ‘open up’ a teacher’s approach to teaching, but often we see there is limited uptake, especially by students, and various colleagues around the country seem to be seeing similar results – there are not many exceptions to the rule, highlighting the challenges in seeing Web2.0 as a ‘freeing’ view of the Web, for the people and by the people, and as a legitimate learning medium.