Revising My InfoDiet

This week in CEP 812 we were asked to revisit our information diet, which is to say, the information that we take in through sources such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, or even the evening news. Rarely do I watch television (except for during the political debate season, I am a huge politics junkie); however, I do take in quite a bit of information from the Internet. I get this information through news websites provided in my Google News feed as well as social media, especially Twitter.

In his book The Anti-Education Era, James Paul Gee (2013) calls spaces such as Google News and Twitter our “affinity spaces”. These are places that we are able to collect and share information with people who have similar interests to our own. I currently use Google for two main purposes. First, I will use it to search for lesson plan ideas, Spanish conversation prompts, printable activities, etc. I also use it to keep current with what is going on in the news. I use Twitter to follow like-minded individuals and people with interests similar to my own, particularly in the sports world. I am a high school football coach. On Twitter I follow several other high school and college football coaches. We use it as a tool to exchange ideas, and it serves its purpose. I have never felt that I have needed to expand my horizons and seek out new information. I have grown content with my current InfoDiet.

I was comfortable with my InfoDiet until I began to consider what I had learned this week. My current InfoDiet is personally tailored to my own interests. Google News tailors your news feed for you based upon the articles that you read the most often. You can click underneath the article of a title to let Google know if you are interested in reading more articles such as the one you just read. For example, my feed is full of articles about politics, technology and Michigan State sports.

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Twitter is a social network that allows you to follow people that you are interested in following. In short, people who think like you do and share similar interests to you. A quick snap shot of the first two entires on my Twitter feed show more of the same: sports!

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To step out of the affinity spaces that we have grown to be so familiar with and love so much, we were asked this week to add at least 3 new resources to our InfoDiets. In other words, we have been asked to add resources with views that differ from our own or that do not fall within our usual realm of interests.

The first new source that I added was Katherine Schulten. Katherine Schulten is an education blogger for the New York Times. She writes about a variety of topics within education ranging from problems with common core standards to students not being challenged enough. What I like about Katherine Schulten is that she is not writing opinion pieces, but is discussing the topic of Common Core from a variety of different perspectives in her article.

Another new author that I am following is Annie Murphy Paul, who has a new book coming out called Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter. I look forward of comparing and contrasting her thoughts, with the thought of Gee.

My third and final new follow this week is #LangChat which is a community of world language teachers on Twitter who bring a variety of different philosophies to the table. Some use the TPRS method, some teach using the communicational method, and some teachers use other methods. Most importantly, we all teach differently and can all learn from one another.

One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing some great new sources. I’m going to start following Katherine Schulten and Annie Murphy Paul as well. Since I work in higher ed, following thinkers on issues like the common core may help me better understand the environments that produce our college first-year students. I’d never discover these sources if I didn’t challenge my own affinity spaces as well.

    I noticed another point that I appreciated: that we sometimes don’t use our online networks very deeply. It isn’t always about living in a carefully curated bubble–but that we just don’t have time or space in our busy lives to follow that much stuff. You using networks to follow sports, politics, and teaching. Once you automate your feeds on Google News and Twitter (which you mentioned), it’s easy to let that sit on autopilot for years, without gleaning or adding. Great point!


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