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Classroom Without Walls New Media and Diversity

Professor Cecil Brown

Utilizing New Media

Our class used social media practices and integrated them with course curriculum. Each student was encouraged to use this media as a learning tool. As a class, we were actively involved with the following media:

Twitter Facebook Skype GoAnimate bSpace

All this was used in addition to reading important texts that related to new media, writing, and other technologies like cell phones, telegrams, drumming, television, and radio. The class did not have a course reader, and students were encouraged to download their books and read them on their computers.

Blogging: Connecting an Oral Tradition With New Media

Rather than have a standard term paper, students frequently blogged after each lecture their feelings, thoughts, and personal reactions while being able to refer to important key concepts and terms learned in class.

Marvelous Marv Bree Mitchell Blog

3 Stacks Blog

Debroskie-Johnson Blog

With the blogging, I aimed to establish the connection between Walter Ongs concept of secondary orality in the context of African American oral traditions. In turn, this fusion helped yield a new relationship to Digital Learning.

Was blogging closer to an oral conversation? How would students learn from using Skype? How could we use game and animation tools to teach?
To help answer these questions we began with analyzing old technology which is essentially, writing. Thus, the class read Professor Barry Powells book Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization.

I then prepared the students for a Skype interview with Professor Powell. When the time came, they were each prepared with a question for him.
Here we learned how speech and a responsive audience changes the way we view a text. To be able to speak with the author himself, the text becomes immediately more familiar, and the students were able to accomplish this because of social media.

Ethnic Voice in the Age of Information

Many African American students have computers, but does this erase the digital divide?
To help answer this particular question, students needed to examine non-writing traditions like oral poetry, blues, games, dance, and hip hop.
We had hip hop performer Azeem come talk to the class about his experience as a hip hop ambassador to Algeria and Tunisia. Hip hop journalism is another response to non-written tradition so we invited Pandavis, who works as a journalist for new media outlets like Youth Radio and to speak as well.

Furthermore, we focused on the theme of Social Justice and the Internet. For this we invited Cephus Johnson, the Uncle of Oscar Grant, to speak. This presentation inspired important blogs from students. One response (from Brooskie) revealed to the class his own uncles death at the hands of the police.

Azeem: Trip to Tunisia

Azeem as Hip Hop Ambassador

Race, Colonization, and Technology

In the class, Avatar became a topic of discussion. I posted an assignment on bSpace about the lm, then posted three questions on whether or not Avatar was a race lm. The next morning we had an open discussion where students were then asked to blog on the online articles read as well as what was discussed in class.
The discussion of race and writing then continued with the lm Night John. With this lm we discussed the treatment of enslaved Americans. Later we were able to Skype the director of the lm, Charles Burnett and he engaged with the class on both the lm and other personal issues.

Presentation by 3Stacks and Debroskie

Advantages of Digital Learning

Digital learning allows students to learn anytime and anywhere. This education can more easily further even after the class is nished. It even helped students stay in touch with me after the class was over. One student even approached me and let me know that students were still blogging!


Takes us to Detroit and Washington D.C.

Taj Mahal

Takes us to St. Louis, 1899