Reflection: What challenges occur when students are empowered to create online "text" and share globally with others?
As teens have done throughout time, they embrace "new" technology and play with it, creating a base for next generation to build on. The new genres have involved text, music, and visual arts, depending on the generation and media accessibility. Right now, online "text" includes written, musical and visual arts, exclusive and combined, often remixed.
At this time in our electronic evolution, we have easy-to-manipulate tools at our fingertips. We can create our own visual text. Students who see the world in pictures are now able to communicate effectively. They don't have to be manually artistic, good spellers, or wealthy enough to afford to buy professional-grade equipment. They don't need an agent. They need computer access and time. It's exciting! Our youth have been trained to expect immediate feedback and they can get it online from an ever-expanding audience.
A quick look at Abbott Tech reveals a number of the challenges students face in this new landscape. Rude tweets on the Abbott Tech Twitter channel have resulted in suspensions. Students chose to take an inappropriate video inside the school building while passing and posted it on YouTube. They were suspended. A sophomore borrowed his brother's flash drive to bring a paper into school to print. He left the drive in the computer with his brother's pornography on it. Many students copy and paste from articles on the internet and turn in projects without proper documentation. These challenges involve students' own immaturity and inexperience, which is part of being a teenager.
With freedom comes responsibility. Educators must teach their students, both by example and with practice, that in order to safely navigate the social aspects of the internet, they need to act responsibly. Equity is also an issue. Much interesting and creative work is done at home on students' personal equipment. As with any new medium, those with money have better access. There isn't enough time or equipment during school to give all students the hours of play they need to really perfect their skills. Maybe, the best we can give all students for now is exposure, practice, and guidelines.