Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Information Revolution

This here in the NYTimes brings to mind something that's been happening more and more often in my classes lately.

The article is about mistrials being declared because jurors are using their Blackberries and iPhones to do research on any given piece of testimony or on some expert's credentials or on a certain sort of medical technology, all of this during the actual trial -- none of which, of course, is legal.

I'm not surprised, since my students have been doing the same to me.

"Uh, well," I will say. "Oxford Convocation. We're talking early part of the fifteenth century here. I don't remember the exact year, it's a number, I'm bad with numbers, but the point is--"

"1406," some student will say from halfway down the third row, his Blackberry on his desk.

Or someone will ask me about an obscure linquistic point, and I'll brush it off, as I have always done, since we don't really need that level of detail in the class, and before I can finish saying so, someone else in class has Wikipedia open and is explaining it.

It's creating an entirely different, and very interesting, sort of classroom.


dorki said...

Information-rich society? It is just data until it is both factual and applies properly to the situation. That is one main problem I have with this.

Another problem is having too much data/info. One can easily drown in it and lose sight of one's goal. After a long career of scientific research, I found that it was best to limit pre-study to essential data to best encourage the discovery/invention thought processes. Then check your hunches against supplemental data.

Anonymous said...

I think having a handy resource for exploring curiosity is a wonderful thing. The year something happens is always interesting. It places what happened in the context of what went before and what came after. 1066, for example. The Battle of Hastings. Who could forget that one?

Good for you, delagar, for embracing this new classroom. Good for your students, for having the curiosity to care about what you have to teach them. Funny little obscure details are sometimes the best part.


zelda1 said...

I don't allow my students the use of their technology while I am lecturing, but if there is a question that I am not certain of the answer, I call on the blackberry or iPhone people and they rush to be the first to come through.