The Internet is an unbelievable resource which links people, information and resources from all around the world. This powerful tool Gee (2013) explains creates affinity spaces that humans use to create Minds. By combining the human mind with a tool such as the Internet human’s become much more powerful (p. 165). The relationship between the Internet and humans at first glance seems to be healthy and beneficial, however as you look closer into the affinity spaces used humans, if not careful, are receiving an information diet full of “junk food”.
In his Ted Talk, Eli Pariser (2013) points out a “filter bubble” that is present throughout the Internet. This filter bubble without us knowing personally tailors our affinity spaces, searches and suggestions to “what we want to see but not what we need to see.” In the past year I have began to use Twitter as my personal affinity space to stay up to date with current events and educational trends without my knowing the information that comes up on my feed and the suggestions I receive are specific to me. Though at first this may sound great we are unaware of all the information we are missing out on and the lack of opposing views can make users ignorant to issues they feel well educated on. I also realize looking more closely I only following mainstream news sources and other teachers for my educational information. Right away I now see how limiting my resources truly are.
In an attempt to create a more balanced information diet I decided to explore new subjects on Twitter in hopes of bringing other views and ideas that may challenge my existing beliefs. The first new group I decided to follow focuses on innovation in the classroom. I started following Teach Learning @techlearning, within a day I felt more connected to resources and ideas on how to integrate technology and make classrooms more innovative. Before I was much more comfortable receiving information through other teachers or a specific tool but this platform gives me a more direct resource. I also like how this source is not simply one tool but explore many different tools allowing me to be exposed to tools I may not have been open too in the past.
Further exploring outside my comfort zone I have added was the SAT @OfficialSAT. As someone who is not a fan of standardized test this was moving outside my comfort zone, however with SAT testing in the near future for many of my students I should be more educated on the topic whether I support it or not. Though there were not many tweets that came onto my feed from @OfficialSAT their past tweets include practice questions and articles about what to expect This pushed me as a teacher to be continually preparing and aware of the changes coming our way.
The final piece I added to my information diet is the National Education Association @NEAToday. Education issues and changes are a large piece of what is happening in society however before following this I was not actively following the changes happening thinking that even though it affected me it was all political and there was not much I could do other than ge frustrated. After following this group and realizing the limits that filter bubbles were already placing on me I recognize the importance of being up to date on all issues that effect my career, society and self. I also realized that this group is not all politically focused but actually provides great resources and motivation for teachers.
Filter bubbles create a world online that we want to see, however in order to be informed educated and smart humans we need to challenge ourselves to get uncomfortable and explore other views to ensure we are absorbing a well balanced information diet.
Gee, J. P. (2013). The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Parsier, P. [TED]. (2011, May 2). Beware Online “Filter Bubbles” [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ofWFx525s
Reynolds, L. (2004, July, 5). Please Do Not Feed Me! Animals Need a Balanced Diet. [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/5197843