Sunday, April 7, 2013

Origins of my PLN

For months, I mean months, my phone was robo-dialed by the The Seattle Times. Every day, we looked at the caller ID and ignored it. One day, I had had enough. I picked up the phone. The salesperson immediately launched in to a sales pitch about a spring delivery deal. It was cheap. Then he said, "You'll have a direct impact on our local economy by improving jobs in our area." So, I said yes. That particular morning, I had just read the bios on my OL students who had just lost their jobs. They were bewildered and looking for a new direction in life. Many of them had never thought they would start over again in life. So, I said yes, I'll try your offer for a few weeks.

For weeks now, the paper has been thrown in the yard. Some days, I read all of it. Most days, I make sure to take the crossword puzzles out, and the rest goes into the recycling. My husband has even joked that we are paying somebody to litter in our yard everyday. I would love to the get The New York Times, but we live in too rural of an area for delivery, and I don't want a newspaper mailed to me. (Yes, I know I can access all of the news that's fit to print online, but I don't like to do my all of my recreational reading on the computer. Maybe someday when I have a tablet/iPad.)

So, do I renew it? I've been on the fence about that, but I'm leaning towards yes. I guess I like the litter in the yard, and we've been killing some valuable time with crosswords. I've even become my mother's daughter by clipping a few coupons!
I'm reading Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff. So I've got newspapers on my mind. As I drank my coffee and watched the rain fall by the inches today, I came across "Turn STEM into STEAM with arts education" by John Maeda. He got me thinking about the role of newspapers in my education. As a die-hard supporter of the arts and humanities, I worry about all the hype about STEM. Sure, I understand that American education needs a major overhaul in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. No argument here. And I often joke that this means job security for me because all of those majors still have to take composition courses.

This past fall, I wrote a recommendation for a female student to apply to MIT. She needed a humanities teacher's recommendation for her application, and although she got accepted with her own impressive accomplishments, I felt really excited that they cared to know about her creative communication. They weren't just paying lip-service to the humanities, and not only did she need strong communication skills, she also needed to be the best person I've met in the last five years. I can't wait to hear about her success.

Maeda got me thinking not just about STEAM, but about newspapers. Are they the origin of my Personal Learning Network? Op-Eds and editorials were the print version of what we do online now. I also can't remember the last time I read a paper journal. How does this connect to my PLN presentation? Well, I think newspapers are important to the evolution of any digital immigrant. In order to teach people about RSS feeders, blogging, and the like, using the newspaper as a framework can help. Maybe this example can help deliver my point.

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