Compete with MySpace!: Design a New Site
In this assignment, students play the role of Web designer. This assignment lets students explore how the choices made by Web designers affect how people use a site. They work for a company that plans to launch a new social networking Web site that will compete with MySpace. They brainstorm a design for a new site that is different from MySpace, but that targets the same audience, and give a persuasive oral presentation to share their ideas.
Divide into groups of three to five. Each group will complete the three steps shown on the Lesson 2 handout.
Use the following criteria to assess student work:
Take Action: Classroom Ideas That Build from the Discussion Questions
Wild, Wild West
The Internet is sometimes labeled the new "Wild West." Is this true? Have students do a Web search to learn about what life was like in what is characterized as the Wild West. They should come up with a list of five themes that represent the Wild West and compare them to what the Internet is like.
Conduct an Interview
In the program, teachers discuss the role computers play in their classroom. One teacher appeared to eagerly adopt technology in his classroom to engage students' attention. Another teacher appears to hesitate as she finds it difficult to keep up with technology and is less comfortable using it in her class. She voices a sense of helplessness, saying, "My time is over." Do teachers generally feel this way about new media in the classroom? Do they fall into the "eager adopter" or "hesitator" categories? Are there other types of responses besides these two? Have students interview two different teachers by asking them whether and how they use new media (computers, the Internet, podcasting, etc.) in teaching and how they feel about the rise of technology in classrooms.
Me, Myself and Avatar
As a class, visit a networking site that uses avatars, such as Second Life or Habbo. Check out the options for creating an avatar. What values are embedded in the choices offered? How are dimensions of gender, race, occupation and personality depicted through various choices? Do you prefer an avatar that reflects what you look like or one that looks completely different? Why?
The Disconnection Experiment
Invite students to choose a day when they commit to completely disconnecting themselves from all forms of media: Internet, phone/cell phone, TV/movies, radio, music (including iPods!), books, magazines and newspapers. Make sure they choose a typical day in their lives -- not one when they're camping or playing sports all day. Can it be done? Have students reflect on their experience by considering the following questions: