New Media and My Life

The big announcement today was Apple’s new tablet computer. I suspect there were no women on the design team, or else it wouldn’t have ended up with the name iPad (on a related note, a trending topic on Twitter: iTampon). I was teaching at the time of the announcement and joked with my students about how hard it was not to just pop open a window on the computer to see how the press conference was going. So one of them came up and the end and showed me the news story on his iPhone. Gotta love it.

I’m teaching the Writing for New Media course. We do a lot of our assignments on line, so if you want to follow along, bookmark our blog. I’m hoping to learn a lot from them about their interactions with new media. My focus has been on what they actually do and not on what they think they ought to do when in class. For example, one student asked about using Wikipedia. I have colleagues who ban any reference to Wikipedia, but let’s be realistic: students are going to use it. Why not teach them how to use it thoughtfully? For example, examine the results at different times to see whether — and how — the entry changes, determine what sort of sources have been used to establish the information, and whether there are controversies made explicit in the entry.

In the end, it’s not about the information: it’s about having the intellectual tools to critically examine it.


  1. Adam Lipkin says:

    When I teach our First year Library Instruction Program classes, I make a point of noting that Wikipedia is actually a great starting point for research. Not an ending point, of course, but it's great for getting a sense of the amount of available knowledge (especially for folks still determining what topic they want to research), it provides lots of useful extra search terms and themes (which they can then use in relevant databases), and most articles have at least some footnotes that offer up useful sources.Mind you, I still cringe when I encounter an actual, finished book that cites Wikipedia in its endnotes (Cait Murphy's otherwise fantastic Crazy '08," for example).

  2. K. A. Laity says:

    That's a really good way to incorporate it into teaching. Coming up with search terms is a skill that it takes a considerable amount of time to come up with and I think some of my colleagues overlook how much of a challenge it is. I find it ironic that colleagues who have a hard line approach to the using the net and to plagiarism have no problem downloading and pasting images into their syllabuses without attribution. 🙂

  3. The IPad, more absorbent than the IPhone…:-P

  4. beat me to it!!!Go there and scroll down!!

  5. K. A. Laity says:

    Yep, and the multiplicity of jokes in the same vein — Twitter and Facebook were having a field day yesterday. It was a hoot!

  6. Todd Mason says:

    With a family member at a certain fruited tech co., perhaps I'll merely echo (all unknowing even if suspecting, since this part of my joke is true)–as a reluctant adaptor, I tend to stick with the old reliables, such as my trusty iBeltedRag.

  7. Todd Mason says:

    What's green and brown and read all over…

  8. K. A. Laity says:

    HA HA HA! Thanks, Todd.

  9. Todd Mason says:

    (As I probably should've made clear, I meant my old fabricated device would be ecologically "green"…)

  10. K. A. Laity says:

    At least until you toss it.

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