Sunday, February 14, 2010

Twitter and the Fractured Sense of Community

Jameson and the Post-Modern Question of Cynical Fragmentation

This might be the wrong way to address the fact that I'm going to experiment with Twitter in the next class I teach, but the idea came to me as I was reading Chela Sandoval's "Fredric Jameson: Postmodernism is a Neocolonizing Global Force." So maybe I had the passing thought before reading about the impact of the electronic/technological revolution on the ability to frame criticisms of the dominant discourse, but I wondered if technology could still be used as a method of bringing back together some of those communities fractured and silenced by technology. Almost all students have cell phones or access to computers, so what kind of impact can we have when collapsing distances of space and time via 140 character tweets to students, prodding them to think about generative classroom themes outside the classroom? This endeavor might have an invasive quality to it, so I'll continue to reflect on it before I make it a part of classroom participation.

If I do follow through with this, I'll be sure to have an anonymous survey available to students so they can evaluate the pros/cons of the collapsed time vs. community building potential. I will be sure to leave some space for comments/opinions, which I will use to gauge whether or not it is something I will continue with for the entire semester. Starting with Jameson's criticism, it might very well sound as though I'm anticipating negative results as a part of some greater self-fulfilling prophesy against an over-reliance of technology in the classroom, but as an educator, I would have little motivation to isolate and discredit a new media object if I didn't believe there could be a potential positive effect on the knowledge building community of the class.
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  1. Hi Cruz,

    I similarly wanted to use Twitter in class, so I did a survey asking students if they were interested in me posting announcements or fostering class discussion on Twitter. A good number said they preferred in-class discussion, did not use Twitter, and did not want to begin to do so. You might consider doing a pre-survey as well as a post-survey.

  2. The issue I see with the pre-survey is that the technologies we use in class, D2L and e-mail, are already a part of the class and not presented as optional, which gets at how they already serve as projects to control the discourse. Working from the assumption that technology is a part of the course and might already have a dehumanizing, disconnecting effect between instructor-student and student-student interactions, I hoping to see if something more immediate, more similar to texting literacy that the Net generation is accustomed to, generates more community discourse? I would additionally like to see if it has an effect on my teaching; like with this blog, I take part in this technology, but I haven't seen a place for it in my teaching.