Saturday, November 16, 2019

#OKBoomer - banning live tweeting & photography

This past little while a new tag has pop up - #OKBoomer.  It's framed as an intergenerational boundary marker, but I see it more along the lines of a critique of those who cling unreasonably to what the way things are becuase change scarers them or threatens their sense of entitlement.

As we get older we do get set in our ways; it's hard to change. Especially hard if changing means we might loses some sense of control or privilege.  Often time taking the risk to make a change doesn't actually diminish us, it helps expand our world. But yes, making changes, adapting new approaches, and giving up the way things have always been can feel pretty uncomfortable.

It's also unsettling when new approaches and techniques arise and we GenXers or Boomers haven't gotten onboard yet. We can see that there are people doing stuff around us but we unsure of what they are doing, what are they saying, are they talking about us? A few of us might try the new thing, but a lot of us rarely go past looking, resting confident in the belief that our power and place will keep up in control.  Social media is a lot like that. I find that many my age and older are happy floating around in  the shallow pool that is facebook but avoid the slightly rougher waters of twitter. There are other things on the horizon but they seem more like storm clouds sitting off in the distance, looming in vague and threatening ways.

Social media is a reality of our world. There are a lot of people who don't like it. There are a lot of people who really love it. Then there's the rest of us in the middle kinda of liking it, kinda hating it. But it seems that the more Boomer one gets the less likely they are to like or appreciate social media, especially if it lives outside their direct control.  So we are starting to see a lot of rules about social media and related technologies.

I used to try to control digital technologies in my classes. It's a distraction I thought - it's disrespectful I fulminated! So, since I was the prof I made rules. I tried to take back the classroom, to remake it into something it likely never was - quiet, peaceful, attentive.  But right from the start the rules ran into problems. Some students have accommodations. They might need a laptop to write their notes on. Others need to record the lectures. So then we have to make sub-rules so as to respect the accommodations but not single out the particular students. Then there is the policing. No rule is any good unless it is policed. And allow me to assure you there are as many explanations for transgressions as there are students in my course. But, as time wore on I found myself using more and more computer mediated devices and techniques int he classroom.  It got to the point I would be asking a student using their laptop 'illegally' to do a google search for this or that, and on it went. While I still consider it rude to be texting and talking on a phone during a class I am far more relaxed about the intrusion of social media and computers in the learning space - in fact UBC encourages and supports a wide array of iPlatforms for learning.