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Forum for Field and Project Notes

alesnick's picture

Dear Students and Consultants,

Please use this forum to post, comment, and exchange in cross-talk about weekly field and project notes.  Enjoy!


hweissmann's picture


Through this project I hope to learn more about the use of blogging as an educational tool. I will think critically about the role of a blog in and out of a classroom, and explore how best to use blogs to teach students about thoughtful reflection and meaningful online conversation.

I want to make sure that the blog is more than an online journal for the students—the online space allows for conversation within and outside the classroom. This project aims to expose the students to some of those conversations and show them the possibilities of blogging.

I would like to use this blog to teach the students digital skills. I will address practical skills such as incorporating pictures and video into posts, and interpersonal skills such as how an online conversation works.

Over the course of the project, I want to collaborate further with Maggie Powers. I hope to learn from her experience of blogging in the classroom. I want to consult with her how to effectively teach blogging, how to get the students engaged, and further questions I should consider as I lead the project.


Central Questions

  • What is the value of an online discourse as opposed to an in-person conversation?
  • To what extent can 4th graders engage in online discourse?
  • What are the concerns that arise when kids are online, even in a school setting? How can teachers address those concerns?


Concerns to Consider

Since we are using Google’s blogging service, questions about Google’s ethics have been very present as I set up this project. I had reservations about giving Google my phone number at all, especially after our class discussions and the Googlization of Everything reading, but I ultimately decided that it was worth it to me as I didn’t see any other way to make the students’ accounts. In addition to the required phone number, Ms. Burnett saved the list of pseudonyms on a Google doc that she shared with me. I am not sure of the privacy risks involved with Google docs, because I do not know how much data Google collects from docs. Can bots connect the new usernames I created to student names from a document on an unconnected account? And furthermore, how much do I care if they can? Where does that information end up?

Also, all of the students work on individual ChromeBooks, and when they were transferring their posts from the docs they had created earlier to the blogging interface, many students were logged into their personal school accounts and their new pseudonym account simultaneously, so Google could probably also figure out from that which account is connected with which student. On the other hand, am I trying to protect the students’ identities from Google or from the online public? To investigate these questions, I hope to these particular concerns with Maggie Powers and also continue reading The Googlization of Everything.

inugent's picture

I was truly thrilled to be working with Maccarthy on my web platform project because I was given the opportunity to continue my work with the BiCo-Dalun Summer Action Research fellowship and deepen my understanding of how to create successful cross-cultural dialogue. Our project surrounds the idea of breaking the narrative of African communities locked into a narrative of tragedy through storytelling on different social media platforms as well as spotlighting on Wikipedia.

My web platform project’s activities are divided into two major spheres: Wikipedia and Social Media. The Wikipedia aspect involves creating a Wikipedia article about both Maccarthy’s school, Hopin Academy, and an article about his growing project, Our Tamale. The articles will encapsulate the history of the projects, Maccarthy’s mission statement, the achievements that have come out (of the school, in particular), and presence within Tamale/public reaction. The hope is that the articles will not be taken down from Wikipedia and they will grow over time as the projects themselves expand. A major achievement of the article would be if other editors were adding to the pages and helping them improve. The goal would be for the Wikipedia articles to increase the presence of both projects online, something that needs to be achieved as searching “Our Tamale” on google only leads the user to tamale recipes (despite the social media presence). However, just having information of  Our Tamale and Hopin Academy add to the knowledge production of Wikipedia’s international project is valuable within itself.  

Thee other sphere of my work is the social media side as I am working as an administrator for Our Tamale to help widen its audience on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and new social media sites yet to come. As an administrator, I plan to promote Tamale by editing grammar/writing mistakes, work within my social and academic spheres to gain an American audience, launch both the Tumblr and Instagram offshoots, and improve both the visuals and the writing of the Our Tamale blogger. The hope is to build Our Tamale’s popularity in order to change people’s conceptions of life in Tamale, Ghana, or more specifically, the broad image people have of “Africa.” Through short interviews and eye-catching pictures, Our Tamale aims to share people’s stories to break the image of Africans always in the victim role. I refined the aim to being a way to make the “exotic and extraordinary” ordinary. People from the international audience will be able to resonate with the stories shared on Our Tamale pages and see the people of Tamale in a different light, hopefully interrupting the tragedy narrative of Africa.

 My next steps for both include working closely with Monika and other stakeholders in learning how to navigate Wikipedia and social media spheres in a way that establishes credibility and gains an active audience. While audience-building is a formidable obstacle at this point, I feel that by contacting mentors such as Deborah Ahenkorah, I will be able to promote Maccarthy's work in a way that is both effective and graceful. 

inugent's picture

The reason that I feel that both education projects, Hopin Academy and Our Tamale, are so meaningful as they show innovative learning from an unexpected (at least unexpected from an ethnocentric Western gaze) place. In a city of Northern Ghana, Hopin Academy delivers learning to all ages in a way that is fluid and flexible with its structure of "hop in, hop out."  I think the strictness of many Western educational institutions have so much to learn from Hopin Academy's technology-oriented methods. Unlike the stigmatized image social media and web platforms can have in more traditional settings, it is the cornerstone of Hopin's mission. There, education and technology are inherently linked and the more I learn about Hopin the more I see how Hopin Academy's rheotoric is so relevant to our classroom discussions. While I struggled with twisting my language into something that matched an encyclopedia style, I hope my article will still be an effective push for Hopin Academy's online presence. 

In terms of Our Tamale, I think that its nonpatronizing look at the lives of people in Tamale is an incredible breath of fresh air and something I believe in can really get a great audience. I want to play with idea of forming intimacy through social media, generating a following from a passionate audience who already has such a strong attachment to Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. By turning to stakeholders and technology/communications-based literature, I want to learn how to interrupt the fashion-based, pop culture-based platforms with meaningful stories that take a different form. While they might not mimic the rhetoric of popular memes and internet trends, I still feel that they're equally as entertaining and can take off in its own way, a mission I am struggling with. 

arobiolio's picture


Almost at the onset of discussions with Anna, executive director at Ardmore Senior Center (ASC) it seemed clear that my placement there would be an entirely unique field experience.  Anna expressed significant interest in either pinpointing or developing an app to help ASC members keep track of their medical information.  Specifically, Anna noted that members needed an electronic portal via which they could store and easily access information such as: medications, allergies, physician names, and medical history.  After some initial discussion, Anna, Sula, and I decided to make this goal the focus of our project. 

Our first step was to research what medical data storage apps already existed, and determine if any of these pre-existing platforms would serve the basic needs Anna had outlined for us.  Sula and I both conducted research and each picked two (for a total of four) finalist apps for consideration. For each of these four “finalist” apps (Microsoft HealthVault, MyMedical, RevUP!, and iBlueButton), we compiled pro/con lists in a shared Google doc.  After finalizing our list of pros and cons for each app, we wrote a series of questions that incorporated the various characteristics we had listed, and used these questions to create a “needs assessment” to be filled out by ASC members.

The needs assessment brings me to our current location within this field process.  Anna has decided to give the assessments to members in the center’s computer class, Creative Writing class, and book club.  On Friday, I went to the ASC to collect the assessments she has had completes so far (she wasn’t able to meet with all of the relevant groups this week). 

So what:

            While it would have been ideal to have all of the needs assessments completed by this week, I completely understand why Anna needs a little extra time to reach out to more ASC members.  During my meeting with her, she voiced two additional points.  The first, was that security of data emerged as being hugely important with members.  The second, was that she wondered how, if at all, our work could be integrated with MainLine Health, a network of hospitals and other health venues that is prevalent in this area.  I admitted that I did not have huge familiarity with MainLine Health, but that I would do a bit of research to better acclimate myself, and consider reaching out to them.  I also assured her that Sula and I would look extensively into issues of security before selecting a final app.  One question on the Needs Assessment (which I will attach in a reply to this post) addressed security in terms of storage of data.  The question was meant to ask if members preferred to have their information stored only on their personal device, or if it was okay that their data be stored on a server (and therefore would be accessible through login on any device).  While this question was not meant to prompt concern about security, it clearly did. I wonder if we should have anticipated this while writing the question.  I am also pondering if this worrying about security would be present in a group of younger people.

Now what:

            Moving forward, I think Sula and I will look at the assessments that we have so far, and see how they match up with our app choices.  Hopefully we can schedule a time on either Wednesday or Friday for one of us to pick up the remainder of the assessments.  As we continue with this work, I am also becoming more certain that our workshop should be in a video format so that it can be replayed and continuously accessible to Anna and ASC members.  

arobiolio's picture

Finding the Right Medical Information App: Needs Assessment


1) What kind of information do you want to keep track of with the use of this app? What specific medical information is most important to you in terms of electronic storage?






For the following questions, how important is it to you that this app:


2) ...can function on a variety of different electronic devices (e.g. iOS (iphone)/Windows phones/iPads/computers)

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

Not at all important                                                           Extremely Important


3) ...can it interact with other apps/websites you use?

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

 Not at all important                                                           Extremely Important


4) ...has a clear and user-friendly interface?

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

Not at all important                                                           Extremely Important 

5) ...can manage the information of more than one person?

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

Not at all important                                                           Extremely Important


6) ...costs money? Usually a one time fee of $10-$15

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

Not at all important                                                           Extremely Important


7) … stores your data securely (e.g. within your physical devices, instead of in a remote server on the internet)?

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

Not at all important                                                           Extremely Important