Plus Ça Change…

A slideshow project on the immutability of human transgression I helped put together with some amazing colleagues. As Rebekah succinctly pointed out, the idea was just to show how many of the problems we fear will result from increased technology in the classroom have been around forever.

A few brief reflections on the project:
1) When our group was brainstorming for examples of “tech misuse” in the past, the first few ideas I had were all about graffiti in Pompeii. I think my first instinct is always to make sense of new situations by finding historical analogies, and the more ancient the better. I’m glad I get to teach and investigate history together with students as part of my daily life. On the other hand, however, I have to remind myself that just because I can connect two things, one of which happened in the past, that doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect or particularly illuminating analogy, or that it means anything special at all. Historical parallels only make sense when there’s a certain level of thought put into them, and even then need to be taken with a grain of salt. The standard example of unhelpful historical connections would be Godwinning, and I have to keep an eye on my own tendency toward unhelpfully far-fetched parallels when I reach for historical examples in discussions.

2) I think my (humble) part in the project was made easier by the fact that we split up the work and people had different responsibilities. I know that collaborative work, where students have roles within their groups, is almost always preferable to cooperative work where they just work together on something – but I still sometimes neglect to set up group projects in a way that mandates or facilitates roles and responsibilities for each member. It’s something I’m going to keep an eye on in the future, and if anyone has any good advice or resources to share on the subject of different ways to set up group projects so that each student really “owns” their part of it, let me know.

3) It was really easy to do a collaborative Google Docs Presentation as an adult student working in a group. I will be encouraging my students to use it more often in the future, even though it doesn’t have the astoundingly gaudy PowerPoint transitions and animations that are so dear to their hearts.

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