The Culture of Participation on the World Wide Web

This week our class had the privilege of having Alec Couros as a guest presenter (well, using technology of course!).   After being bombarded with new information (which was a good thing), I watched Michael Wesch’s video “An anthropological introduction to YouTube”. Both presenters touched on the topic of how technology has created a culture of participation. Specifically, Couros explains that we are turning into a participatory culture and not just a consumer culture.

One of the biggest realizations I had about the culture of participation came when Couros displayed an image of a Reddit post that asked what would be the most difficult thing to explain to someone if someone from the 1950s appeared. The answer to the post was “I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man”:

From Alec Couros' presentation.

From Alec Couros’ presentation.

Growing up and attending school, there were only four computers in a classroom and therefore technology was not used. I did not grow up with technology in the classroom. As a teacher, I must embrace this technological change. Because we have the devices in our pockets, we need to use them. This is how we connect to others. Wesch says that technology is a new form of community and new global connections are made using technology.

“Media is not content. Media are not just means of communication. Media mediate human relations” -Michael Wesch

In my opinion, building connections and collaborating are the biggest advantages to using technology. Suddenly, I am not just connected to those in my school, but can connect with others around the world. I am able to make global connections. I can see the advantages of being globally connected from simply my learning project. Never did I think I would connect with an artist who lived in Newfoundland.

So what does all this mean for the classroom?

Classrooms have the ability to connect with others.

Classrooms have the ability to connect with others.  Photo Credit: superkimbo Flickr via Compfight cc

Technology needs to be embraced. During the presentation, Alec Couros mentioned “technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born”. Because of this, how I teach in the classroom will be a lot different than how I was taught in the classroom. I, as well as my students, are now am able to utilize social media and other digital platforms. This will open up many possibilities. Students will be able to go on “virtual” field trips to places they never dreamed they could go on. Students will be able to connect with other students in places far away. As the teacher, I will be able to collaborate with other teachers in places far away.

Since embracing the world of Twitter and Google+, I have noticed this culture of participation. I am using these platforms, and exploring new platforms to find new ideas and participate more actively on creating a positive digital identity. So, keep following along for the updates and my journey about jumping into this culture of participation.


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