Saturday, April 01, 2006

teaching 1

Just taught a fundamentals-of-the-Web class. It went well, I reckon. I start with DARPA and ARPANET, talk about the importance of a non-hierarchical network in case of nuclear war. Then it's all about navigation, searching, directories -- topped off with a note on evaluating info & thinking critically. I hit on the difference between "internet" and "world wide web". I draw maps and Boolean logic diagrams.

It's an extra credit thing. Faculty send students to the library for instruction, and then the students can make 2 points on the final or whatnot. I go through phases where I get flustered from having 30 faces staring up at me, especially when they aren't responsive, and I get kind of locked in a mode wherein I make them more uncomfortable. A kind of mean-teacher-mode. It's better to get out of that as soon as possible -- for them, and me. Sometimes it takes a while to warm them up, though. I don't make a lot of "jokes".

There's this presumption now that everything ought to be available. All information should be readily accessed by websearch. Every person, thing, or concept should have its own webpage. I talk a lot about the invisble web. About how there are oceans of information we aren't meant to see, cannot google for. Students come in with unrealistic ideas about the nature of information and its availability. It's funny -- there's a presumption on one hand that everything should be easy to access, but, on the other hand, a distaste for reading "content". Bullet-point it, please. Students wrinkle their noses when I suggest they "read the book". It stinks too much of being linear, I reckon. Smells like dust.

With that in mind, I teach advanced search techniques to show them that finding information (especially info that might otherwise forever remain mostly invisible) is an art and a science, and it's a responsibility. It's an individual responsibility.

Bathe, pay your taxes, tie your shoes, get the oil changed now and then, be info-literate. One of those kinds of responsibilities -- basic and personal. And no one else is going to do it for you. No one is going to read the book for you, or understand it for you, even if someone else sells you a summary of it.

I like teaching these classes... once I get the students warmed up. I like it when they get excited. I like it when I tell them to use info-evaluation skills with books, too, and even when listening to their professors... I like it because I think it empowers them. I like it because it "uncools" the net, at once, and also "recools" it because they now know how to operate the freakin thing.


Watching: Good Bye, Lenin!
Listening: The Horse Flies

Mood: sleepy but caffinated... yikes!

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