will i ever learn?

Painfully aware of the rapid disappearance of whatever modicum of cool I ever had, I tend to imagine my students on some cutting edge that I’ve long since renounced as remote and unreachable. I can’t understand their IM speak, their video games are too fast and confusing for me (I miss Punch Out, Tetris, Super Mario Brothers), and, as I’ve already confessed, I can’t keep up with their music.**

In no place is this feeling of being “out of it” more persistent than the realm of technology. Seriously, I sent my first email when I was in college, in 1997, and even then I was late to the game. I don’t own an iPod, use Tivo, understand HTML, download music, use Facebook, or have a Blackberry. I only began blogging last year for a class.

My students, on the other hand, have probably been blogging since they were in knee pants, posting their thoughtful musings, video clips, graphics, and photos on their own websites (built from scratch, of course).

Or so I thought.

Like last year, I’m teaching a composition class wherein I ask my students to create their own blog in order to write for a broad public audience. And as this sequence of assignments approached, I had some serious qualms about asking my students to blog. I worried that (certainly already having blogs of their own) they might not find anything of use in this process, that they might resent having to cover old ground.

Turns out, as a class, they have relatively little experience with blogs. Really, almost none. So much for my stupid assumption.

At first I was elated. I find blogging such an interesting writing exercise and I like the way it forces me to rethink composition (and rhetoric) as systems of communication. But now, after reading some of their responses to blogs they found for class, I have a new fear:

Is it ethical for me to ask my students to publish their writing on the internet?

Many of them wrote about stalkers, privacy issues, disclosing their identities, the consequences of blogging on their future careers, etc., etc., etc.

In my mind, I see a continuum of safe to risky blogging techniques, and I’ve been trying to highlight the different strategies bloggers use to attract and/or repel particular audiences (to say nothing of practical advice about how to keep one’s identity shielded.) But I’m now wondering about the ethics of asking a student to publish online as part of a grade. Something to consider…

**Last year, after admitting that I still loved the Beastie Boys, a student laughed at me and stated with disdain, “they’re so old.”


2 Responses to “will i ever learn?”

  1. Suzy Greenberg Says:

    Jen, you aren’t old, uncool, or not-up-to-date. Rather, I think you have a personality and demeanor that won’t let you ever seem dorky or dated. Who cares about iPods?

  2. Christina Says:

    suzy greenberg put it best 🙂

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