Inspiration for newquill: New Media Literacies – Networking

Content isn’t king; connection is.

While I was working as a teacher I had an experience with my students that taught me the importance of social capital in the lives of young people to an extent that did not exist when I was in high school.

I would daily put up journal entires to inspire daily writing as well as interesting quotes from powerful figures throughout history. Some of the questions I asked were:

Why drive if you can walk?
What is the source of your ego?
Do you believe in ghosts? Why or why not?
What question would you like to ask the world if you had immediate access to the entire population?
Write about a time you taught something totally new. What did you learn?

I remember one particular student, BRILLIANT, looking up at me and saying, “What are you going to give me if I do the assignment?”

“Well, I’ll give you credit – like everyone else.”

“Credit for what? Just for writing? Who’s going to read it?”

“Well – I’m going to read it?”

“And who else?”

I was a bit confused.

“Well, I don’t know, no one else. Just me.”

“Well, why should I do it then? Who cares if you’re going to read it? On Facebook like a thousand of my friends will see it.”

I had created a “teacher” Facebook with a different address than my usual email that gave me an understanding of what was happening in my student’s lives.

Facebook, the social network, allows for students to simplify their social lives with instant access to their friend’s thoughts and lives. It also made writing and reading relevant. They had a social purpose for doing those things. Now, as an “teacher” figure, I had to figure out how to make things socially relevant.

When I came into the classroom on a Monday I knew what my students had done over the weekend. I knew why some were unresponsive in class – her mother was in the hospital, he had been working a late night shift, they were inundated with something that they put more value on than school and it seriously impacted them. This allowed me to tailor my interactions with them, and better connect with them.

This is an example of using digital tools to network. It didn’t involve me sweeping across a room with business cards. That’s the old networking. The new networking gives me the ability to search, synthesize, and apply what I knew about my student’s lives in a way that made me more relevant – it made me a part of their network.

Essays on paper are no longer relevant to students in the 21st century. newquill would allow users to use 21st century writing skills – mixing media, social networks, and text – to simply publish and share engaging material through the web with the world.

Material music albums are no longer relevant to artists in a digital world. Why can’t artists publish the collective elements of an album – art, lyrics, music, video – all together to be easily consumed and shared?

Paper newspapers are no longer relevant to consumers in a fast paced, information highway. Why can’t readers aggregate the articles and ideas they find relevant from a series of news sources and bring them all together to create their own daily paper?

With newquill they can – and connect the world together in a beautiful blossoming of diversity and love like no one in the world has imagined.

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