“Yo, cn u plz tch me how 2 right english”

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The integration of technology into our educational system is a touchy subject; it is a positive integration in some subject areas, but seems to have a negative side when it comes to certain subject areas. Educators are calling the 21st century as the STEM education era in where we are to teach our youth the most important job skills in the subject areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. But they fail to mention the subjects of Literature, Reading Comprehension, and History. Many discussions have arisen, among the community of educators, from this ongoing issue. Today’s youth spend 18 hours of their day on social media sites. Yet, because of this educators have seen it have a negative impact on language and methods of communication. Educators see “text language”—or what is mostly known as “IM-speak”—as slipping into the academic sphere and, as some state it, “ruining standard English.”

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There are some educators that realize that technology is a part of most, if not all, of the students’ lifestyle, and there is no way of avoiding it. These educators are those that have embraced technological integration in the classroom, but only in the STEM areas. One high school math teacher states that,

                              “Instead of lecturing in class, I lecture to them when they’re at home, and                                     we work on problems together [in the classroom]. I liken it to an English                                    classroom where the kids go home and do the reading and then they                                            come into class and have this lively, engaging discussion” (Lytle                                                         “Emerging Technology”, 2011, emphasis mine).

 This is great and works amazingly for the STEM areas, but this type of “virtual curriculum” cannot necessarily be applied to those subject areas that do not fall under STEM. Instead there are some educators that strongly dislike the fact that technology has became a way of living for the majority of the students and, as Lee states, social media has negatively affected their ability “to separate formal and informal English” (Lee, 2002).

Elementary and high school teachers, alike, are saying that there is a “‘dramatic decline’ in the writing abilities of [their] students due to ‘Tweeting, Facebook, and texting’” (Lytle, “How Slang Affects,” 2011). Amanda O’Connor calls it the “bastardization” of language, and she is not alone. There are many educators that feel very strongly about technological integration, not only in the classroom, but in life in general. O’Connor writes about several articles that indicate how students misappropriate language because of the strong influence that social media has upon them (O’Connor). Others share the same experiences stating that they have seen students not “capitaliz[ing] words or use punctuation anymore. Even in E-mails to teachers or [on] writing assignments, any word longer than one syllable is now abbreviated to one” (Lytle, “How Slang Affects,” 2011).. However, while some advocates state that this is just an “‘evolution of language,’ Chad Dion Lassiter, professor of race relations at the University of Pennsylvania, considers it ‘a dumbing down of culture’” (Lytle, “How Slang Affects,” 2011). It can be otherwise described as a “breakdown of the English language,” but the English language wasn’t always the way we now know it to be.

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Language is a part of our culture and our society, and it is logical that our language change along with our society and its customs. According to a news paper article written by R.S. Helderman,

                        “Instant messaging and e-mail are creating a new generation of teenage                                     writers, accustomed to translating their every thought and feeling into                                       words. They write more than any generation has since the days when                                           telephone calls were rare and the mailman rounded more than once a day”                             (qtd. in O’Connor, emphasis mine).

 It is evident that technology can have a positive impact on our society, as we see above, especially on our students. Our society has evolved to be more participant in every small detail of our lives rather than passive, like most of our grandparents were in the 20th century sitting in front of a television screen. This new generation is constantly in communication, constantly interacting with one another via, nonetheless, writing. As James Paul Gee states, literacy “is not ever general or self-contained” (Gee, 2000); equally, as stated in an article by the Associated Press, educators should regard this change “as a type of literacy in and of itself, which can be capitalized on to engage students in more traditional learning” (qtd. in O’Connor). Because our language is constantly changing, many educators have taken it upon themselves to use this opportunity to teach students about the evolution of language. “Erika Karres, a teacher educator, ‘shows students how English has evolved since Shakespeare’s time’” (Lee, 2002), while using “text language” to demonstrate how our language has evolved from Old English to Modern (or standard) English, to “text language.”

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Technology and social media have created a platform in where our communication and writing is truncated, or condensed. It is as if our way of speaking—“where a gesture or facial expression [replaced] words in speech” (Wayne, 2014)—has become our new written language. Our society is always in such a hurry, always running from place to place, and attempting to make the best out of the time that we have available to us. Our speech is contingent upon this and therefore we now “talk to each other in fragments because of how short on time we are” (Wayne, 2014). But, the fact that “text language” has become a way of life for the majority of us, isn’t all of social media’s fault, but it is also due, in part, to the fact that most of our phones in the 1990s had such small keyboards to text that one had to press a certain key three times in order to get the desired letter. Even now, “people are inclined to abbreviate or truncate words and sentences,” and even “omit punctuation,” because it requires a “switching of keyboard screens” (Wayne, 2014).

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Social Media plays its part by creating rules for updating statuses online, like Twitter, for example, in where you must limit yourself to only 140 characters. Therefore, people “must be brief when expressing feelings” (Wayne, 2014). Nevertheless, one must also be extremely careful in how one words different emotions and feelings for everything is subject to interpretation. Helderman states that, it is because of the necessity to use precise language online, that,

                       “…teenagers read over messages before sending them, editing to clear up                                  mistakes or imprecision…Liz [a 13-year old seventh grader] and her                                              classmates said they will sometimes sit in front of a computer screen for up                             to 10 minutes, planning a sensitive message—wording and rewording” (qtd.                          in O’Connor).

 On occasion using images or videos can reinforce our text and give it a different meaning that words alone sometimes can’t. Wayne calls this the “powerlessness of text in a visual environment” because “so much of the Internet is image-driven” (Wayne, 2014). It is like the saying actions speak louder than words, however, in our day in age, an image can convey much more than just words can alone. This is why most of our generation uses “memes” and “gifs” to reinforce the message that they are trying to get across.

Funny-Emoji-Examples (6)

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Nevertheless, the process that teenagers go through in wording and rewording sentences and phrases to get the right message across is similar to writer’s process of drafting to get the final draft, and essentially get the right message across. O’Connor argues that “one of the most interesting things about IM and other popular technologies (text messaging, video games, etc.) is that they are potentially learning tools” (O’Connor). These learning tools can be acquired and used by educators, as Lee points out, to “encourage students to use messaging shorthand to spark their thinking processes” (Lee, 2002).  It is important that educators see the potential that technology can have on a student’s education and how they can improve their lessons and teaching to best fit the student’s needs. Lee talks about a six grade teacher Trisha Fogarty, who embraces technology and has found ways to make it work for her and her students in an English classroom. She states,

                            “When my children are writing first drafts, I don’t care how they spell                                               anything, as long as they are writing…If this lingo gets their thoughts and                                 ideas onto paper quicker, the more power to them. [However,] during                                          editing and revising, she expects her students to switch to standard                                               English” (Lee, 2002, emphasis mine).

It is educators like Fogarty that we need to learn from and develop new and better ways to help student’s do what they know best and use it to their advantage. The fact that Ms. Fogarty allows her students to use “text language” to write their rough drafts but still demands that they hand in a clean and well written final draft demonstrates to the students that there is a time and a place for everything. This isn’t a difficult task to master, for there are many college students who have learned and mastered “standard English” first before acquiring the knowledge of “text language” and handle both “codes,”—as I would like to refer to them—quite well. O’Connor also writes that,

                         “Students can be taught both to understand what constitutes correct                                            language, and also to know when different types of language are                                                    appropriate to use. Educators sometimes believe that this level of judgment                            is something adolescents already have, but as Helderman points out, ‘I                                      think we expect kids to get it instinctively, and they don’t. It’s something                                     that has to be explicitly conveyed to children’” (O’Connor, emphasis mine).

 It is the job of the educator to provide service to the students and teach them what should be done and what shouldn’t be done. A teacher cannot expect their students to know what it is that they are asking of them if it is not explicitly stated to them.

Students should be taught to write and express themselves according to their audience—the way they speak to their friends, wouldn’t be the way they speak in a job interview; this is called “code-switching,” something we exercise subliminally. As aforementioned, everything has its time and its place:

                            “As Leila Christenberry, … asserts, ‘It’s not that there’s never a place for this                              sort of thing, but it’s the difference between how you would dress to go out                              on a Saturday night versus how you dress when you do yard work” (qtd. in                                O’Connor, emphasis mine)

James Paul Gee also provides an example of “code-switching,” similar to Leila Christenberry, he reiterates that there is a place and a time for everything. They way you express yourself to your parents might not be the same way you would express yourself to your friends, or even your significant other. This subliminal action that we partake in is not difficult to explain or to teach to students. We all use different language structures when communicating with different people and in different settings. If this were to be explicitly explained to students and shown to them that there is a difference, many will comprehend that difference, because we all do it. It is just a matter of learning how to do it in writing. Many have experienced explaining a very hard and complex topic to a 16-year old and to a 5-year old, gearing your writing towards your audience is something of high importance and it could change the way you word a specific sentence. As O’Connor states,

                      “Students need to understand the importance of using the appropriate                                         language in the appropriate setting…[for] if students [understood] where                                and when it is appropriate to use certain types of language, then allowing                                them to use “IM-speak” can be beneficial in building student-teacher                                              relationships, in enhancing student’s comfort level in school settings, and in                            improving academic performance” (O’Connor, emphasis mine).

 As individuals, we may speak differently to different types of people, regardless of age, gender, race, or education. It is in our daily lives that we exercise the use of “code-switching,” without even realizing it. Therefore, if an educator were to embrace this new era of technology and allow their students to use what they are already familiar with to assist in learning new concepts, it will  be beneficial, not only to the students but to the teachers/professors as well.

An educator must find the best ways to meet their student’s needs. You cannot expect to stand firm in old and traditional ways of learning when society is always changing and technology constantly advancing. By not embracing the world that the students are constantly surrounded by they begin to feel a “disconnect” in the classroom, which can potentially lead to academic downfall. It is an educators’ job to “teach them the skills to optimize these tools” of technology (Lytle, “Emerging Technology,” 2011), and to help students “switch off their informal habits when they leave the chat room” (qtd. in O’Connor). Many educators have done a successful job at integrating technology, not only in the STEM area but also in those areas in where the problem seems to exist. If they have been able to do this, there is no doubt that others can be successful in implementing this pedagogy as well. In our day in age, the focus should be shifted from the problem to finding ways to solve it. The funny thing is that our solution already exists, and is right underneath our noses (technology), however some educators are too firm in their old and traditional ways that they fail to see the positive aspects that outweighs “the problem” at hand.

 

References:

Gee, James Paul. “Teenagers In New Times: A New Literacy Studies Perspective.” Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 43.5 (2000): 412. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Lee, Jennifer. “I Think, Therefore IM.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Sept. 2002. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/19/technology/i-think-therefore-im.html&gt;.

Lytle, Ryan. “How Slang Affects Students in the Classroom.” US News. U.S. News & World Report, 13 June 2011. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://www.usnews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2011/06/13/how-slang-affects-students-in-the-classroom&gt;.

Lytle, Ryan. “Study: Emerging Technology Has Positive Impact in Classroom.” US News. U.S. News & World Report, 14 July 2011. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://www.usnews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2011/07/14/study-emerging-technology-has-positive-impact-in-classroom?page=2&gt;.

O’Connor, Amanda. “Instant Messaging: Friend or Foe of Student Writing?” Johns Hopkins University, School of Education. Johns Hopkins University, 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/literacy/articles/instant-messaging/&gt;.

Wayne, Teddy. “On Internet Slang, IMHO.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 Mar. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/fashion/on-internet-slang-imho.html?_r=1&gt;.

 

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Google Books and Me

At the beginning of this semester I found myself in a really deep hole. My sophomore year in college, to fulfill my Business Administration minor requirements, I had to take Accounting I and bought a $300 textbook. I knew I had to take Accounting II at some point but I didn’t know the publisher published new editions every year. I decided to take Accounting II this year (junior year) and was shocked when I was told to buy the brand new edition. Hesitating, because I really did not have the money for it, I desperately search online for the new edition. To much relief, I found an electronic edition version of the textbook’s new edition on Google Books (you can see by clicking here). I was so happy that this was made possible to me and I now live relieved that I didn’t have to spend another $300.

Thank you Google Books!

Final Project Tools

Like I mentioned before I am most likely going with the critical option for the final project, because I feel that I am the type of person who isn’t creative at all and wouldn’t be able to come up with something amazing.

For my critical piece I have decided to use Word Web App (Word Online) via OneDrive so that people can physically see my paper with all its links and pictures right on my blog and not have to click to download something. At this point, all I can think about including in my critical piece is hyperlinks and pictures (thumbnail or small sized – so as to not take up much writing space). I am also looking to have some sort of survey piece to my final project, in where I can begin my argument and steer off from what the general population (St. John’s student body) thinks about our Digital Age and Privacy or Education (whichever I decide to choose in the end).

But this is still a work in progress…tune in.

Being Transparent

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TRIGGER WARNING: Domestic Violence. Discretion advised.
In class today we talked about becoming or being transparent (for a day) as a creative idea for our final project. Just when we thought that this was something that no one had ever thought about – we are proven wrong.

I just found a website in where a woman decided to “share her day through Google Glass.” The website features a video of a woman’s entire day from beginning to “tragic” end, for this woman’s life is not ordinary but instead she is a victim of domestic violence.

Although this is not something that we might have expected to become witnesses to, I still think that it ties into our class discussion. Technology isn’t all bad, it can be used to spread awareness, find/catch criminals, etc.

Watch the video and tell me what you guys think.

Brainstorming for Final Project

Privacy is Theft

I want to take the option of writing a critical piece for my final project. I want to concentrate on one of two things: privacy and education.  As many may already know in the class I am very interested in how our privacy rights are slowly being challenged in this new digital era. In “The Circle,” we saw the aphorism of “Privacy is Theft,” yet what does this really mean in today’s society? What is privacy? What does it entail?  Things like filling out our full name, birthdays, and email addresses, have become so mundane to us that we don’t realize that we are constantly giving out our information to random third-party strangers.

Also, education is something that plays a major role in my life (my mother and aunts are teachers) and I want to see how incorporating technology into the ordinary classroom would either be a positive contribution or negative contribution to learning. Andre Sayegh, the 6th Ward Councilman for the City of Paterson, NJ (who is also running for Mayor of Paterson in the upcoming elections) posted an article recently about how students have been missing out on school so much due to all the snow storms this winter. However, he proposes that with the help of technology, we can remediate this problem by having online classes on days in where it is too dangerous for students/parents travel to school/work. What repercussions can this have? And will it really remediate the problem?

These are all questions that I am truly taking into consideration as I think more in depth about where I want my critique paper to go.

“TruYou”

One of the aphorisms in The Circle by Dave Eggers that was really interesting for me to see was the fact that the name of the program, at the very beginning of the book, is called “TruYou.” It is a program that connected your entire life to one identity, one account. The book describes the program as being the end of “false identities, identity theft, multiple usernames, complicated passwords…[TruYou] was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple…”

This is something really exciting to even read at the present moment, especially since our entire lives is already on the internet, most people attempt to create fake Facebook accounts to misguide an employer into seeing what they want them to see. This program eliminates all of this and in our day in age it will give everyone more peace in mind, knowing that the person your teenage kid is talking to over the internet is who they say they are and not some predator.

This brings up the saying, “You have nothing to fear, if you have nothing to hide.” Which brings into question, do we really want our entire lives out on the internet like that and free for anyone and everyone to see?

Storyboarding

THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE

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Once upon a time a young man, named Luis, who lived with his older brother moved into a 2nd floor apartment. In this new apartment he met a nice young girl, named Stephanie. Images of my husband and I back in 2008
One day Stephanie’s family decided to throw a birthday party and invited the 2nd floor tenants (Luis’ family). This is where Stephanie and Luis held an actual conversation for the first time and they seem to hit it off pretty well. Image of my husband and I dancing
Luis then invited Stephanie out on a date to The Great Falls of Paterson for Labor Day Weekend and they had a blast together. Image of husband and I at the Great Falls.
Not too long afterwards they became a couple. They were the happiest couple in the household and the two families began to mingle more often. Collage of all images of birthday parties and gatherings.
Then one day, Luis thought to himself how life next to Stephanie would be like. Image of Luis wondering…
While Stephanie was in Florida visiting her father for the summer, Luis sneaked to the jewelry store to buy her an engagement ring. Image of Stephanie in FL and Image of Luis with Stephanie’s Engagement Ring.
As soon as Stephanie returned from her trip to Florida, Luis proposed over dinner at “El Mexicano” Restaurant. Image of Engagement Dinner Party – Proposal
The wedding preparations then began and invitations began to go out for the Wedding of the Year. Image of Wedding Invitation
Stephanie and Luis got married on March 2, 2013. Images of my wedding day.
Until this day they continue to live happily married in their own apartment. They spend every minute of each day together and they plan to do so for the rest of the years to come. Recent images of my husband and I.