Monthly Archives: April 2010

Passionate about technology – lessons from a student

As we wind down to the end of the semester (well, honestly, it’s winding up…), I am in the middle of grading a giant pile of final papers for the Personality Psychology course I teach. As always, there are a few brilliant gems that stand out of the pile and amaze you. This semester, one of my more brilliant gems is a literature review of personality traits and online multiplayer games (MMOs). The student wrote a strong paper that was well-developed, organized, did an amazing job of covering a very sparse literature, and most importantly, that you could tell she was passionate about. She talked about which personality traits are most linked to developing an interest in MMOs and, even more interestingly, how individuals create characters within the framework of MMOs to both express and explore their own personalities. It was a delight to read, which is sometimes hard to find at the end of a long, exhausting semester.

But seeing the joy on her face as she discussed her project was the largest success I could ever ask for as a teacher – to give a student a platform in which they can engage in something they are passionate about. It reminded me that technology is something that most students really, really connect with and are often passionate about. Certainly not all students are, but I have to remember as a professor that new media is such an integral part of my students’ worlds. Thus, as the professor, I must walk a fine line between engaging them in that passion and also challenging them to step outside of their own comfort zones. And that’s just it – isn’t it? New media is meant to push the bounds of what we already do! That’s why it’s sometimes received with such skepticism.

As we draw to a close on our New Media seminar, I am reminded that the important thing is that we are passionate about what we do and open to learning new things when it comes to technology. There are aspects about technology that I learned about this semester that fascinated me and others that underwhelmed me, but the point is that we are open to learning about these things, trying some of them out, and ultimately attempting to become better teachers in the process.

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iPads and technology – true love at first sight?

Last night I just watched the newest episode of Modern Family, a new comedy on ABC, in which Phil (one of the main characters, a father) receives an iPad for his birthday. **Side note – for those of you not watching Modern Family, you should give it a shot. It is quite possibly one of the most hilarious things on TV.** Anyway, the whole episode is centered around Phil desperately wanting an iPad for his birthday, but his wife oversleeps and does not make it to the store in time to purchase one. So, she (Claire) is chaotically running around in order to get him one (they are, of course, sold out everywhere). Finally, at the end of the episode, Claire manages to get him one and Phil, who had previously been depressed, just lights up when he sees the iPad. There is a hilarious shot at the end of the show where Phil is caressing his iPad and telling him he loves it.

This episode reminded me of the day I got my iPhone. Embarrassingly enough, I can totally relate to Phil’s feelings about his new piece of technology. You are so mesmerized by its capabilities that it takes you almost completely out of this world and into the technological world of your device. They marvel and amaze us, but are they helping us or distracting us from living our lives? Is it ok that technology has such a hold on us? I do not know. I’m still convinced that the good can outweigh the bad, but I thought this small parody on our obsession with new technological devices was hilarious if not even a little bit enlightening. You should watch it too. Catch it on hulu.com or abc.com.