2009: Twitter and Social Media
I found this chapter so adept at relating to the events of today that I frequently found my mind taken off into the minefield that epitomizes social media today, especially in our current state of affairs. For instance, the “democratizing effect” that Weller (2020, p.108) claims makes “formal academic status…not significant since users were judged on the value of their contributions to the network” has without question created havoc in the current socio-political environment.
The paradox of informed vs misinformed is, in my view, the crux of the current problems. The value of contribution has been colluded by numbers of followers, and the very nature of what is information and what is misinformation has become indiscernible to many. People don’t know what’s true, who to believe, who to trust, and for many, who should bear the brunt of their frustrations. To say that “social media [is] a space and culture that at times seems positively hostile to education and informed debate Weller, 2020, p.109) doesn’t highlight the level of vitriol that characterizes modern online debate.
For instance, I follow a medical doctor in my community who began posting nightly updates at the outset of the global covid pandemic declaration. She spent her early career working through the AIDS epidemic, and saw how fear caused as much or more trouble in patients and the community than did the virus itself. She resolved to help provide logic and good information about covid to stop people from going into fear-based frenzy. Over the course of the past year and a half, in her battle against covid, its fear, and associated misinformation, she has become increasingly attacked for her views AS A HEALTHCARE PRACTIONER. She recently posted to remind people that the war is against the virus, and the vaccine is the weapon against it. All arguments that do not recognize this fact are essentially missing the point of where we’re at. I think of the people who are capitalizing on opportunities for polarization of society, with the aid of bots and trolls, and it is simultaneously saddening and maddening. The question Weller (2020) poses of, “How, then, are we to resolve this quandary of benefit and damage?” feels like a question written specifically for our current social circumstances. It is a million dollar question with opinions a dime a dozen, but answers nonexistent.
As in so many of the chapters, I frequently caught myself nodding agreement, or yelling out “YES!” to various points that Weller made, and this chapter on E-Portfolios was no exception. As an English teacher, I have occasionally implemented E-portfolios as an aspect of a student’s assessment, mandated from the top, down, and I have met the same responses from students that Weller (2020) noted, that they take a prohibitively long time to prepare. From my view as the instructor, they take a long time to then grade as well, and issues of reliability in grading could be valid as well, since they are so subjective in nature. The time consumption was stated as a barrier to their use, and in the ironic turn Weller mentions, few staff used E-portfolios themselves. It feels contradictory to the point of hypocrisy to require students to build an exemplar that we ourselves won’t do or don’t use, and that employment standards don’t value either. It feels counter to the educational environments we want to create, where in-class practices transfer to real-world skills.
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Edmonton, AB: Au Press, Athabasca University.