Accidental lessons

This quarter I taught a graduate class on computer-mediated communication/social computing/virtual environments. It was an evening class, four hours a night once a week.

By the last class everyone was pretty tired. But as we tried to wrap up and not run past our allotted time, I asked the students (as I almost always do, both after individual class sessions and at the end of a term): “What did you learn?”

So this time I asked the question. And one of the students offered a caveat: “In 140 characters or less!”

Yes, Twitter was one of our topics during the term.

Here are some of the lessons my students apparently learned (with attribution when granted):

“Fight the future,” lesson learned by Allen Bathurst. Personally, I think this is just from taking a class with me, and it’s not actually related to the class material.

“Social networking is nothing new.” We spent a lot of time this quarter talking about history. And, in fact, I spent the first class session hauling in some of the early years of my Wired magazine collection to get a sense of how much, and how little, things have changed in 15+ years.

“I feel like we’re all angsty teenagers saying ‘no one understands my problems’ but in reality lots of academic articles have been written about all my problems already.” Nadine Tabing. Is it better or worse to know there is an army of academics researching your anxieties and frustrations with technology?

“Bad solutions to invented problems. How can we do it better?” Allen Bathurst (again). What more can I say?


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