30 August 2012

Social Knowledge, Maps and Power

In a world where young people are connected and interact on social networks, I find it is necessary to  sometimes reflect just how determining these channels of communication have become. Not only discuss these issues with learners, but also call their attention to how social media is changing, and in turn, changing us as online and offline participants  in our social worlds. Where is the knowledge? Where is the power to social knowledge? And how does this affect the individual?

But first, a step back.  

For anyone who has visited this space before, you will have noticed that among the many suggested tools and classroom approaches mentioned, I also have a special focus on digital  identity and maps.

Maps are not territories. They may foster inquiry, spark creativity, however they are not territories. 

On the hand, there is so much that maps can teach us - either creating one's own map (e.g. ZeeMaps
Build A Map, mY Histro) . One can also create timelines to express relevant moments in one's  personal and social history, and here below are some examples:

Some maps call one's social attention to what is happening in a constantly changing world. Views of the World  is a great source for a different kind of map, going beyond mere description of a landmark or place. They often are quite thought provoking and are a rich source for social studies or focusing on social issues with the aid of these expressive maps. 

This blog has also offered many suggestions for games, ranging from language games, general learning games to social awareness games. Today I'd like to highlight 3 more games which may lead to further social awareness and discussions on social ethics. 

Harpooned is a simulator which is freely downloadable for both MAC and Windows.  The participant plays the role of a Japanese scientist who is conducting research on whales in Antarctica - surely a topic which learners should be aware of as so many species are becoming extinct.

Ayiti - The Cost of Life  deals with poverty and how to make ends meet in a challenging and thoughtful simulation for young learners. Poverty, regrettably, is not only found in under-developed countries but all around is, both in urban and rural settings. 

Not meaning to promote any religious preference here, Christian Aid offers a selection of games , from helping in a natural disaster to deciding what is and what is not fair. 

Lastly, 101 Super Sites for Social Studies Teachers, offers as the title suggests, sites which may be used for social studies. Although many of the sites referred to are from the USA,  they may serve as a springboard for class discussions when focusing on social ethics. From there, a class may conduct a search to see what exists in their own country, conduct a mini survey and even develop their own page of what they perceive to be socially relevant in their own environment. From movies to visual boards, there is a wide choice of which tools learners may wish to use to express their findings and opinions.

As with so many other issues, what constitutes ethical behaviour and social ethics may differ from country to country; if on the one hand it is educational that students know about these differences, it is also beneficial for them to reflect on their own society and how social ethics and responsibility affects them. 

Social ethics, social responsibility and social knowledge - these topics are not only for those involved in media but affect everyone. Classrooms are safe places to discuss these topics, raising awareness, giving voice to students, exchanging opinions and views. As for power? Let me share this infographic with you. 

Power To The Online People

How powerful do you feel today?

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