In the spring of 1995, TIME magazine published a special issue devoted to cyberspace. In this issue the reporter Elmer-DeWitt explained that the term was coined by William Gibson who noticed that youngster in video arcades were in "a feedback loop, with photons coming off the screens into the kids' eyes, neurons moving through their bodies and electrons moving through the video game. These kids clearly believed in the space the games projected."
With the advent of fast Internet connections, social media and digital collaborations, this feeling has become more intense since today people have a physical identity and a digital one.
Nowadays people argue with complete strangers over political, economical, social or other issues. Also, people start collaborations and even business using the Internet. People also study using the Internet! And it is not an exaggeration to say that the way people use the Internet today has many similarities with the "Matrix" idea that has been used in the well-known movie "The Matrix".
Although Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) appeared early in the history of the Internet, the Internet itself was not widely available and only few people could have access them. Nevertheless, these were the forerunners of social media. In 2002 Friendster appeared and soon it was followed by LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook. Nowadays, there are social media, dedicated dicussion groups, mailing list, etc. , and students are flooded with information to the extend that they "are losing the ability to study properly because constant Internet use is 'rewiring' their brains" (The Telegraph, 11 Feb 2010). This is a very worrisome situation and there is definitely a need to guide youngsters in general on how to effectively use the social media, discussion groups wikies, etc. Note that by effectively we mean in ways that are constructive (e.g., contribute to a discussion, a project, etc.), avoid insult (racial, genital, religious, etc.), promote ideas in a decent way, etc. In particular, this project should
- search and analyze good practices when it comes to the "proper" use of social media, etc.
- encourage school members (pupils, teachers, administration) to participate and contribute their experience in various discussions, meetings, etc.
- improve linguistic skills (English as a foreign language)
- promote active citizenship through innovative teaching/learning materials
Teachers spend many hours each day with youngsters and of course it is not unheard-of for them to discuss matters not directly relevant to the course they teach in the classroom. After all, teachers are not there to only teach math, science, etc., but also to inspire and give a vision to their pupils. However, a systematic study and presentation of the pros and cons of the use of the Internet and the teaching of constructive usage falls outside the scope of these discussions and need their own room so to say.
Different countries have different habits and the use of the Internet is no exception. In some countries, certain social media are banned by the government so pupils do not have the opportunity to use and evaluate them. In other countries, there are even political parties whose main concern is the freedom in the Internet. While in others, legislative bodies try to establish what is "correct" and what is not "correct" as far it regards the Internet. Thus we cannot speak about one approach to the proper use of the Internet but we can speak of different approaches with their pros and cons. These should be the subject of constructive debate in order to find the best possible approach for each particular case we are going top examine.
These ideas form the kernel of our REuDiC project, which is funded by the European Union Erasmus+ program under the Key Action 2 - Strategic Partnerships between schools-only. This partnership consists of six schools from Austria, Greece, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, and Turkey.
Since this project is about cyberscape, here is a drawing of a vehicle that one can be used to travel in cyberspace!
During the second meeting of the program pupils had the chance to watch the movie cyberbu//y. The movie is about a teenager is who subjected to a campaign of bullying through a social networking site.
The following video was shown to students during the 4th meeting.