Monday, February 4, 2008

The New Blackboard of Education

I agree with Camille Paglia when she writes how the early exposure to television and the rapid action and color that are projected across family rooms in the U.S. has prepared the American youth for the internet and this mode of information and text. The "American's basic training for Internet Communication"(269) was the newsroom, the tv sitcoms, reality TV and the bright lights of participatory gameshows like "Price is Right" and "Wheel of Fortune". The intermingling of advertising and actual message is a common theme for TV as well as the internet as a medium. This as well as the high quantity of hours spent in front of screens has contributed to the TV and computer screen becoming the glowing orbs of entertainment, news and education in contemporary society and more spellbinding than ever before.

In Stephanie B. Gibson's article Pedagogy and Hypertext she discusses the implications of hypertext for the classroom. I immediately have visions of Blackboard's database and the format this website uses to create a "hypertexted" classroom. For example, this semester in Professor Hayes' Journalism class, Blackboard is the launching pad for the whole class. The NY Times rules for journalists, the SPJ code of ethics, online news stories and other links as well as the professor's personal notes on textbook readings are all available on Bb. Not only are the assignments, notes and documents placed together online in one place but they are dated so students know what will be discussed on what days.

So what implications does this online era have for the world of the university? Studying becomes a matter of opening up separate tabs on your laptop; this technology surge is a last call for the stereotypical cramming college student surrounded by papers and handouts. Particularly students studying the liberal arts, current affairs and communications. By providing real life examples just a click away from a powerpoint presentation on theory, learning becomes real and as current as the rest of the world. This also allows the teacher to maintain focus and stay on track with examples, models and discussions based on the lesson plan, constantly applying and adapting. A lesson plan on Blackboard opens the student to the world of the internet and allows classwork to be more focused and ultimately more comfortable for the new generation whose focus demands stimulation and many "open windows" open at once in order to prevent boredom. In this way, the hypertext has become more applicable to modern education than the textbook. I guess in this way, the medium must be contemporary in order to deliver a contemporary message.

1 comment:

Lance Strate said...

I like your conclusion about a contemporary medium is required for a contemporary message. Interesting to consider that Blackboard is the fulfillment of what Gibson wrote about, and funny to consider how its name refers back to a much older educational medium (introduced in the 19th century). I wonder if this particular software falls short of the ideal in any way?