Culminating Project

I decided to research my culminating project on artificial intelligence and its impact on the job culture. I chose this topic because I realized how much AI is involved in the education field. I spent last semester student teaching at Hopewell Elementary School where each student had a classroom iPad. This educational technology gave the students an artificial way of learning along with the physical presence of their instructor. Prior to my research, I did not realize how reliable some people are on their devices and the amount of AI that is involved in our everyday lives. As an educator, I would use AI as a way of enhancing the learning experiences I give to each of my students. More advanced technology, when used efficiently, can truly enhance the learning needs of every child in the classroom. I want to continue tracking the progress of AI and see how it will impact the teaching profession when I one day venture back into the classroom and have my own students to instruct.

I decided to make my presentation in voicethread because I am a teacher. I learned from instructors over the past four years how to be the best teacher I can be. I learned that sometimes talking live is the best way to fully teach others what I have learned about on my own. This application has allowed for me to efficiently explain all that I have learned to others throughout this semester. I hope to one day use this application again in the classroom and continue to learn about AI.

Technology – A Key Factor in Human Interaction

Technology has become one of the most important aspects of human interaction. Students and adolescents have been affected by the technology that surrounds their daily lives. Both Turkle and Wesch discuss the effect technology has on students and their developmental process. Each professor takes a different stance on technology within student’s lives but both make great points.

Wesch states that media allows us to communicate and connect with one another in different ways depending on the medium. So when media changes so do our relationships with others. Wesch talks about students sitting in a college classroom. They are merely there to learn and gain knowledge that will be needed for the rest of their lives. While they are sitting in these seats the media bombards them. He argues that in an era of new media we need to go beyond critical thinking. We live in a mediated cultural world that makes it so much easier for us to connect and share with each other. Later in his talk, Wesch uses music as an explanation for the way that different contributions from all over the world can add up to something quite beautiful. This metaphor can play out in all different kinds of places within the media. The analogy shows what is possible between the ways in which the media connects many different people and technology. Wesch then uses this to explain a classroom setting. The walls that surround a classroom environment sends a message to students. The information that is in front of them being presented in the room is what they should be following along with and listening to. The message of the room is pretty clear that students should bow to the authority and follow, follow, follow. It is understood that walls and desks cannot talk but students can.

Wesch created a Google document called “a vision of students today” with his college students. He started the first line with ‘what is it like to be a student today?’ He then added his students to the document and allowed them to critique the high education in which they are involved. The class then made a video to explain how faulted higher education truly is. This video technology shows the class how easy is it to connect, organize, share, collaborate, and publish with so many different people online. However, it is technologically easy to connect with people but when you take away that aspect it is in fact really hard to really collaborate and publish something of worth. Students are not going to learn how to do these real things in the classroom because that is not what they learn to do. Wesch ends his talk with discussing a better way to educate students that leaves the realm of technology as a main part of education. He talks about presenting his students with real questions that he doesn’t even know the answer to. This allows them to think outside of the box and actually take part in the content that is being asked and presented to them. Teachers can then use the relevant tools to harness education through the media and technology that has become so important in the lives of students. At the end of the day, students need to understand that meaning is not something you find but its ultimately something you create yourself.

Turkle presents a similar TED Talk years after Wesch talking about how technology has affected human interaction. She explains that this is something we should be concerned about and something we should have a basic understanding of because it is setting us up for trouble. She believes that we are allowing technology to take us places that we don’t want to go. The technology in our pockets don’t change what we do but change who we are because of the power they hold. Students text, email, and go on Facebook during class time. This is taking away from having students full attention. They are being together while not being together. Turkle explains that as humans we want to control where we put our attention at all times, which technology allows us to do. She then talks about the Goldilocks effect, which means that you can keep people at a distance in amounts that can be controlled by the beholder. She explains this effect as not too close, not too far, but just right. But what may feel just right for an adult might not be the same for an adolescent who still needs to develop that face-to-face interaction. An eighteen-year-old boy who texts constantly explained to Turkle that someday he would love to learn how to have a face-to-face conversation.

Turkle goes on to explain the faults that people find within a face-to-face conversation. Individuals feel that conversations take place in real time where you cannot control what you are going to say. Texting allows you to edit and delete where you can retouch the face, voice, body, and flesh. We clean up human interaction and relationships with technology because of texting, emailing, and posting allows us to do so. We sacrifice conversation for mere connection. Due to the fact that texting allows us to shortchange ourselves over time, we forget about this aspect and therefore stop caring. This constant text communication is affecting the development of the adolescent brain. By showing students that they can edit real time they never have the chance to understand what it means to actually interact and communicate properly.

I think that both professors bring up some very valuable and key points in their talks about students and technology. As a student that grew up a millennial, I would have to agree that technology has been around for most of my educational years. I have had a laptop and cell phone in most of my classrooms since middle school. We find a way to hide behind a screen, which affects the way we learn and interact with others. I also liked how both of them talked about the importance of removing young people from this everyday reality by bringing more to education and the ways we teach. As a future educator, I believe that technology is the future of education. Technology can enhance a lesson and build a skill for children in so many unique ways as long as it is used in an effective manner.

Memes for Political Messages

This was a very interesting assignment to work on because I look at memes all day on my social media. I use them to communicate with my friends and make jokes about what is going on in my life. This assignment was a little different from what I am used to in the online meme world.

When I was creating my meme for this Facebook assignment I tested out a few different sayings that captured my mind during Mark Zuckerberg’s meeting with the Congress. I can see why a lot of people were making memes and online comments about him after his interview. I used different images but decided on a final picture and quote to tweet. So far my meme has not received any traction aside from one like. I do believe that some messages are “stickier” depending on who is looking and reacting to those messages. Without this class I wouldn’t have noticed these online memes about what happened with Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica. I think for my generation especially, memes like the one I have created are creative ways to get messages out about what is happening in our society. I am interested now to see what other memes my classmates have created based on this assignment and to see which political messages will come up on my feed.

Media Manipulation

Pick one of the subcultural groups referenced in this report and discuss how they manipulate the media. Provide and discuss an example of this media manipulation.

One subcultural group that manipulates the media is a group known as the manosphere. This is a group of online blogs, forums, and websites devoted to discussing masculinity. This group sees women as fickle who are constantly looking to manipulate high-class men. This group uses the internet to try and convince others to join their movement. On a board called subreddit that has over 200,000 followers, men swap tips on how to become more “alpha” and attract women with different tactics. On these boards, men blame feminism for creating an unbalanced “sexual marketplace”. This group is one that holds power to amplify particular messages and make fringe beliefs receive mainstream coverage. They put their own beliefs and bias into what we understand about the world. Taking away the truth by adding it to the media.

In order for messages like this to get out social and participatory media is key to manipulating mainstream media. It allows people with the same screwed beliefs to find each other and raise awareness for the messages they want to relay. By giving them a way to communicate and collaborate information about what they think is true is now out in the world where it wouldn’t be aired on news sites. Many websites are even able to link with each other to continue discussions. These far-right ideas come out online because that is where they can. Because of this our media is being manipulated and allowing amateurs to relay information that is not necessarily correct.

Privacy

I learned a lot about privacy over these past couple of weeks after interviewing my aunt and cousin along with hearing from my classmates. When talking with my Aunt Renie and her son Breaden I realized how different generations differ in the ways they feel about our privacy online. My aunt was more shocked by the whole situation while her son didn’t seem to care. He wasn’t going to go and change anything with his Facebook and the Cambridge Analytic didn’t seem to worry him. My aunt also agreed that she wouldn’t delete her Facebook but she is going to be more careful with her use of it. I think it is interesting how little my generation knows about these privacy concerns and the lack of fear we have. I like my cousin (who is a junior at Notre Dame), will not be changing anything I do on social media. Yes, I think that this is scary and concerning but it is something I will just keep in mind from here on out.

After hearing the conversations my fellow classmates had with their friends and family I learned that a lot of people are not going to the extreme of deleting their Facebook accounts. Most people also said that they use Facebook more to stay in contact with people and share what they are up to. So because of this they may post less and be more reserved as to what they share due to privacy issues that are occurring. I am curious to see who actually follows through with holding back what they do share. Due to the Cambridge Analytica being so new I feel as though it hasn’t really sunk in. I am happy we had the chance to learn about it in this course because it is something to be aware of and keep in mind when posting on social media.