Monday, March 14, 2011

Some Thoughts on Techo-Anxiety

All of my students are blogging away and they (fingers crossed) join my FB group today in their Writing Center Lab (I am attending digitally from home on FB). Despite my directions, several students have already tried to “friend” me on FB. I will speak with them about that again on Tuesday. I am pretty sure that is just habit on their part. Somethign to think about.

That said, after the first week of the seminar this semester, I began thinking about some of the comments you guys have been making about student concerns about using technology in the classroom and specifically Web 2.0 tools like Blogger and Facebook. I must admit that I seem to have fewer initial negative reactions to the use of Web tools in the class (only 2 this semester, and both more mature students who barely used email prior). But I thought I’d set aside my experience for the moment and just list the possible reasons that I can think of for negative student reactions. We can also check the surveys for some of these and/or alter the survey to check these. I like Jeremy’s “stress meter” though I think the first week might be a bit early for that, especially for me as I am always stressed the first week as I am trying to learn names and etc. I am not going to argue with any of these right now, nor list what I have or have not done to address any of these, they are not in any particular order, and some will probably overlap. Here is my list with a few examples:

  • Familiar: Students prefer the traditional classroom at first because it is familiar. Example: “I thought we would be using pen and paper.”
  • Techno-edge: Older students may feel that the computer automatically gives the younger students an edge in the class which puts them at “the bottom” from the first day. Example: “I don’t know how to do all this stuff like these kids.”
  • Work Avoidance: Students prefer the traditional classroom at first because that means the teacher has to do most of the work and they can let the “smart” students keep her/him entertained. Example: “Do we have to post every day?”
  • Personal Privacy: Students may fear lack of personal privacy where people can use their info to scam them, cheat them, stalk them and so on. Example: “Do I have to use my real name?”
  • Academic Privacy: Students may fear academic privacy. Students fear the computer and online environments because others will see their work: ergo see if they are not “good”, are trying to slide by, or are plagiarizing or etc. On this note my incidents of plagiarism have plummeted to nil since I’ve required all work to be posted publicly to the blog. Copyright infringement is a whole other issue, however. Example: “I don’t want everyone seeing my work, I only want you to see it.”
  • Persona: Students may be concerned about using social networking tools in the classroom because they don’t want parents/teachers/cops knowing they have an online persona that may not be exactly what they want you to see. This is rather like the online equivalent of running into your teacher at a bar or club. Example: “Do I have to use my FB acount that I have now?”
  • Tech Savvy: Students may feel that they are already “over” whatever tool we are using (FB is SO 2010!). Example: “Can I use my MySpace page instead?”
  • Transference: The teacher is actually the nervous one which makes the students nervous in turn. Example: “Are you guys nervous about this?”
  • Tech-Exhaustion: After registering for classes online and checking their grades online and dealing with CUNY Portal and so on, they are sick of LAGCC trying to do stuff online. Example: “Is this like Blackboard?”

Can anyone think of others?


  1. Work vs. play: Could there also be negative associations with certain online spaces? (In other words, does it look "bad" for someone to be using FB?) For instance, FB and YouTube might be inextricably linked with distraction and "play" rather than "real work". I have to admit that I think twice about going onto these sites depending on where I am. Like I have this worry in the back of my mind that people might come by and assume that I am just goofing off. (Ok, maybe this is just based on bad experiences in prior workplaces.) But not all faculty are enthusiastic about colonizing these new spaces, yet, are they? The edupunk approach needs to be made more well known and legitimated.

  2. I think you got it covered, Ann. To speak from experience, I was just telling the other DFL 2.0 leaders that maybe YouTube was too "messy" to have students set up projects in it and invite comments. And by "messy" I meant that it is "too popular" and "too easy to stumble into yahoos."

    See? As much as an edupunk(ator?) that I am, even I was spouting prejudice at YouTube...