Using Social Media to Define the New Humanities Classroom


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Can we harness the power of social media to provide students with a vehicle for exploring and creating original content? WA Mash (Worcester Academy Mashup) is an online magazine where the power of social media is captured to provide creative writing students with a platform for exploring ideas and fostering and contributing to the larger global conversation. By exploring the possibilities offered by the use of social media tools, we explore how one teacher is defining the New Humanities at the secondary school level. Built off the work of Richard E. Miller at Rutgers University, students blog in a timely fashion about a wide variety of cultural, political and economic issues. Most importantly, it is about creating original content and redefining the role of student and teacher. They compliment their work with audio, video, photos and micro-blogging by integrating social media tools like YouTube and Vimeo, Twitter and Flickr. Think Slate or Salon for high school. The conversation will explore the nature and role of the New Humanities in education. How do we define it? What does it look it? What role does it play? And how do we move forward with implementation?

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Using Social Media to Define the New Humanities Classroom

  1. 1. Using Social Media to Define the New Humanities Antonio Viva Associate Head of School, Worcester Academy
  2. 2. Some background... Classroom teacher (English, Technology and Theater) 1995-2000 Senior Research and Development Associate for EDC on US Dept. of Education Research Project (focus on curriculum, leadership and technology development in schools) Teaching Creative Writing @ WA 2006 to present Hired in 2002 as CIO at Worcester Academy Associate Head of School in 2004
  3. 3. Context Conversation Collaboration Where do we go from here? What is the basis for thinking How do classes in the New about the New Digital Digital Humanities function Are there other examples? Humanities? differently from traditional approaches? What new questions do we Why should schools rethink now have? they way they teach What do students think? traditional humanities What our next steps? subjects? How can we learn from their experience to continue What is one approach? shaping this new paradigm of thinking?
  4. 4. So how do we educate our students for success in the Web 2.0 world?
  5. 5. Can we harness the power of social media to provide students with a vehicle for exploring and creating original content?
  6. 6. Old School Creative Writing Genre based instruction Anthology of work as primary text/resource Student work not published Blogging/Journaling Assessments were traditional, rubric based Mostly fiction, poetry etc. Workshop style with peer edit, peer review process In depth study of literary elements and terms as vehicle for creation
  7. 7. What is the basis for thinking about the New Humanities?
  8. 8. The Spirit of the New Humanities
  9. 9. The Spirit of the New Humanities
  10. 10. A Personal Paradigm Shift Rutgers University Center for the New Humanities & work of Richard E. Miller “Possible for people to communicate instantly and globally through technology. English is a discipline that excels at human expression and the study of human culture related to expression.” “We (humanities teachers) should be the place that’s at the very cutting edge of education for students in these areas.” “Multimedia composition; not only is it important for students to be able to excel in the use of verbal and written language as a means for communicating ideas, but they must also be able to excel in the use and manipulation of visual images. That is what it NOW means to compose.” See
  11. 11. Why should schools rethink they way they teach traditional humanities subjects?
  12. 12. Key Concepts from Panel Creativity, Collaboration and Courage Schools should be a place where students generate ideas rather than just regurgitate them. Ability to try out new ideas and test creative ideas. Fostering new humanities rich environments where teachers can help “capture and harness student energy in order to shape it.” Provide opportunities for students to convey concepts and original ideas through thoughtful, technology rich collaboration opportunities. “Schools should be about communication.”
  13. 13. The Birth of The WA Mash
  14. 14. Our Process Was Organic Sir Ken Robinson “Are Schools Killing Creativity?” KSU “Vision of Student Today” What do we want to communicate? To whom and how best do we communicate this message? Modeled after and
  15. 15. Our Primary Publishing Tools
  16. 16. Explore WA Mash
  17. 17. Student Perspectives Q&A with WA Mash Contributors
  18. 18. Next Steps
  19. 19. Change must be ORGANIC An Organic approach to change meets each user/member of the community using their specific strengths and passions as the starting point.
  20. 20. Organic Change Comprehensive school change mandates do not honor the diversity in our schools. Technology mandates in particular, create anxiety, fear and self doubt. Strategic vision, mission driven decisions and institutional goals are non- negotiable. How we get to the final destination is filled with possibilities, open to conversation and collaborative. Establish a culture where creativity, innovation and the appetite to try new things are the norm. Never fear making mistakes enjoy the beauty of learning from it. Support the inventors, creative thinkers, risk takers, self-described “artists” and innovators with resources, professional development and public accolades. Don’t follow trends, create them. Copyright 2007 - Antonio Viva
  21. 21. Discussion/Questions
  22. 22. Follow me on Twitter to continue the conversation! or @antonioviva
  23. 23. Contact Information Email – Twitter – Skype – antonioviva iChat – Social Networks LinkedIn – del.ici.ous – Facebook – Online Blog – EDSocialMedia Contributor – Student Work –