Can technology take us to a world outside us?

Well, I admittedly have been away from the technology blogging scene and blogging scene in general for a couple of weeks. Spring Break had me working hard for a couple days and then out of town for a couple of days, and this last week has been “recovery” week in which I have been in desperate catch-up mode. I must say, however, that I am starting to love my New Media course more and more. It has quickly become the highlight of my week. This past week we have a very lively and engaging discussion about “The Media is the Message.” After much contempletive thought on it, we decided Avatar was a good example of this and somehow skillfully brought Plato’s Cave into the picture (kuddos to Dr. Bowery and yay for a recollection of my not too-distant BIC past…).

I just wanted to write a quick snip-it about a thought or two that have been following me for the past several days. In reflecting on my undergraduate experience, I realized that my time studying abroad was one of the most best, fondest, and most character-shaping times of my life. And it occurred to me, what happens to students who cannot afford to study abroad? I mean this in a monetary and time-line sense. What if my degree plan doesn’t allow that flexibility? What if I need to keep working to support myself or just cannot afford to go? What happens then?

So I am left with this question: Can technology help take us there, and if so, how? Obviously we can never fully recreate a study abroad situation through the use of any media, but can it help? I think of my own accessibility to French newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations, and this has helped keep my knowledge of (and love for) the French language alive and well. Can we use these new media techniques to bring people into different worlds (i.e., foreign cultures)? If so, how? What does it look like? Can we bring alive language, architecture, art, people? I really have no idea, but I am on a mission these next few weeks to really “think outside the box” on what new media could potentially do for us as educators. Let us see where the journey takes me. Your thoughts are welcome!

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About Megan Johnson Shen

I am a social psychologist graduating with my Ph.D. from Baylor University this May and moving to NYC this summer to start a new job as a postdoctoral researcher at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in the Cancer Prevention and Control Department. I love the brain, human behavior, and anything to do with understanding them better. I love research and a good dinner party. Fine wine and cheese - I'm there. Interesting experimental data? I'll probably show for that too. View all posts by Megan Johnson Shen

3 responses to “Can technology take us to a world outside us?

  • Ellen

    Let me point you to two resources I can think of right off the bat.The recent Paris 26 Gigapixels project: http://www.paris-26-gigapixels.com/index-en.html andLibrary PressDisplay (you can find this resource in the library's electronic resources) which has a 60 day backfile of hundreds of full-text full-color newspapers from around the world with a great easily navigable interface!–Ellen, E-Learning Librarian

  • Lindsey

    You described my undergraduate experience. There wasn't really an opportunity for me to study abroad because A) Most of my classes were not offered, and B) I had to work to pay my rent! If I could go back and redo it I would try to find some way to go abroad. However, too late now. Hindsight's always 20/20 right?

  • Jordan LaBouff

    I think that this is actually an excellent way to talk about the inherent differences between electronic experiences and "real-world" experiences. It shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm a pretty big advocate for technology and new media. I think there are traditionally social roles that new media allows us to fill in unique ways. I do think, however, that there are some things that technology cannot now, and may not ever, replicate.Travel is one of those experiences. Like with most things in life, we manage to build a community in which we're comfortable online. We surround ourselves with like-minded people. So if I went to a community of, say lovers of Russia and Russian history. I would likely find myself in a community of white, middle to upper class English speakers who share my interest. I could find photos and read stories. I could practice my language on forums with native speakers. But none of those things do what travel does for you: forces you out of your comfortable community.When I actually lived in Russia, I was in a city of a million people and heard not a native word of English for the first two months. There was no one "like me" and so I had to learn to adapt to that culture. There is no technological substitute for living in a culture.There's just a fundamental difference between knowledge an experience. Technology can teach you everything about a hurricane. But you don't REALLY know what it is until you experience it.

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