In October, a parent asked me why we still teach A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Grade 9 Academic English. Citing the universality of his themes, I explained they are incredibly useful to help students build connections to other texts, society, and their own lives. Being raised on these plays, it’s only natural that we teach them. They’re a common text that can be appropriated to any format, and relate to any audience; but how we approach these texts does not need to remain conventional. Many progressive teachers are adapting these texts to new methods by incorporating wikis, facebook, videogames and other new media for students to excite with these texts. And of course there are groups of pragmatists who cautiously approach new media.
I account these fears in approaching new media the continually developing role in authorship. Education constantly discusses and revises methods of assessment and evaluation. With technology rapidly expanding past the comfort zone of some teachers, we become hesitant to accept change for fears of plagiarism and unknown authorship; however, in the 21st century, I argue that the idea of authorship will become more and more communal. In our school board there’s been a rise in wikis, movie trailers, facebook pages and other new technology phasing out older methods of evaluation. Consequently, the authors of these projects are no longer bards sitting in candlelight with a quill and parchment—it has transformed into a group of avid learners and professionals continually publishing and revising their works.
One worry is that the internet brings anonymous authors whose opinions aren’t valid in the classroom; however, in 2005, a study proved the error difference between the Encyclopedia of Britannica and Wikipedia are less than 1 error per article—a number, which I’m sure after an additional 7 years of revision has continued to decrease (CNET News). Furthermore, in editing and contributing to the work of others, students are learning to reference original sources in their corrections to add substance to their changes.
It’s time educators scrape the distain and negative, plagiaristic associations form their opinion of these communal databases and utilize them in the classroom to emphasize the development of opinions and the writing process. In turn, the role of a teacher will become less of a “keeper of knowledge” and more of an active participant in these discussions. To get there, I think we’ll have to keep an open mind when approaching these new tools so the pragmatists and eventually skeptics will get on board as the innovators are onto the next big change.
And for the pragmatists, I am one of you. This is my first blog, and as awkward as this exercise has felt, I hope it prepares me for blogging with students in the new semester. Please, share thoughts, opinions, and lets make this blog a discussion .