Tag Archives: blogs

Pinterest for Education

Although we discussed some of the most basic and widely used ICTs for education during our class presentation, there is another interesting ICT tool that is used by many teachers in the US that may be useful in other areas of the world.  Pinterest is a very new and unique ICT tool that allows people to share links to blogs, images, and various resources available online in an organized way.  People use pinterest to find and organize internet resources that are of interest to them and to share them with their social networks.  Recently, teachers have discovered the amazing benefits of using pinterest.  If you go to pinterest and search for boards entitled “teacher” you will see all of these results. Teachers use pinterest to share teaching methods, lesson plans, multimedia teaching resources, and links to teacher blogs.  This is a unique and interesting use of an ICT to improve the quality of education and skills of teachers through collaboration, communication, democratization of information, and technology.  Now, there are even blog posts on well-known teacher blogs — such as this one on edutopia.org — that provides an overview of how to use pinterest for education, so that teachers who aren’t familiar with pinterest can learn how to take advantage of this new tool.  This new type of collaboration has greatly helped teachers in the U.S., and I wonder if this is an ICT that could be used to improve education and teacher training in the developing world.  Obviously internet penetration and computer access, language barriers, lack of culturally relevant material, and the considerations that are important for any ICT for education project would need to be addressed.  However, this certainly an interesting possibility for the future once the primary technology needs have been addressed.

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Arab Spring: What We Learned About Tech and Revolution

The Arab Spring uprisings have been characterized by many as movements driven by social media interaction, and this observation is indisputable. But what we don’t know is the degree to which social media really played a role in the uprisings, and exactly what role these resources played. The Meta-Activism Project blog has recently posted an article that seeks to answer these questions.  “Arab Spring: What Did We Learn About Tech and Revolution” offers an in depth look at the role social media holds in the Arab uprisings, and offers a preliminary method for measuring its impact.

The article views social medias role in a series of progressive steps. The first step is providing people with a safer space to share their preferences. The internet presents opposition groups with a chance to easily foster collective action by sharing their preferences and gaining the capacity to communicate with others to share that preference. The internet provided greater access to information, increased freedom of speech, and increased access to others, all of which helped grow the uprisings. Now that a group has been created for collaborative action, the next step, collaborative planning, is breached. In this sense, the internet provides a vast number of tools for communication that are much safer than many other methods of organizing. Now, the group is ready to take action and will usually mobilize in a coordinated action to do so.

Once the first group has been spurred into action, information cascades come into play. This is when people observe the actions of others, and choose to follow their lead and join the cause. When these information cascades are networked using multiple types of media, a sort of contagion erupts as the public rushes to support and join the cause. Social media also meant that the leaders of the uprisings could write their own legacies in a sense, since they were able to directly communicate their accounts of the story to international media.

Now here is the real beauty of social media- it creates a kind of catch 22 for repressive regimes. Once a revolution is underway and powerful (such as those in Egypt and Tunisia) the government is powerless to stop it, however, censoring social media has been shown to foster political resistance, and thus feed a revolution of its own. So in this sense, it seems that perhaps the repressive regime, to some extent, is soon doomed to fail at the hands of social media. I bet you didn’t imagine then when you created your account of facebook or twitter…


The Concept of New Media and its Transformation Since 2007

In the December 2007 “Information 4 Development” magazine, editor Ravi Gupta writes about new media dreams that were emerging. Circa 2007, Gupta defines the evolving term of “new media” as “a group of digitial technologies…[such as] citizen journalists, bloggers, researchers, and organizations”  that put an optimistic spin on information technologies as they “provid[e] an alternative source of information and reportage.” These new medias have the potential to change the front of ICTs and how they impact development by fostering a “growing appreciation of individual attempts to provide texts of social, journalistic, and analytical merit.” This has the potential to strengthen the voice of individuals, instead of a one-sided representation of development as represented in mass media. Gupta explains this as positive because “new media [can potentially] challenge the hold of major media conglomerates over news-making.” This is extremely important in countries where the government is restrictive of media infrastructure such as television, internet, and radio. In this sense, new media has positive aspects that “can circumvent policing of the media by the government,” while at the same time negative aspects for individuals as new media, to some extent, promotes the “power of surveillance that the state can use to target citizens.”

In terms of education, new media can promote “life-long learning” where “education [is] more inclusive” and made public. I thought this point was especially pertinent because of the blogging about ICT that this class has recently started. The lessons we are learning in class are now made public via our use of new media in the form of this blog. While the information is public, I think it is important to note that it is also extremely accessible in the sense that it can be accessed on every continent. While Gupta may not have had the foresight in 2007 to the direction new media could take development practices, these new information and communication technologies give knowledge at the fingertips of individuals across the world, as we have increased globalization in 2011. At the end of the article, Gupta remarks that “new media therefore has implications of politics, democratic practice, intellectual property, censorship, surveillance, freedom of textual production, media critique, and community and individual expression.” In a mere four years, I find that new media has even surpassed the practical applications of communication and development that Gupta suggested, and it will be curious to see the direction that unravels are more individuals gain public access to developing information.

http://issuu.com/i4d_magazine/docs/i4d_december_2007_issue