As I scrolled through Twitter, I noticed that the people and groups I was connected with all have similar viewpoints to me. Mostly, I follow other people in the MAET program who share information about educational technology, and I also follow MSU’s College of Education. I started to realize that my information diet that I have created has limited my views in my professional career. I have always been a profound advocate for education and technology, and therefore, I connected with those who had similar interests, creating a network of “confirmation bias” as James Paul Gee refers to it in his book The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning (2013). I wanted to see and read about all of the positives of educational technology and strategies to implement it into the classroom, which all confirm my ideas about this topic. I also took a look at all of my tweets that I have shared on Twitter and noticed that they are pretty much all about educational technology in some way.
Until watching Eli Pariser’s TED Talk, Beware Online “Filter Bubbles” (2011), I didn’t think anything of my small information diet; I am connecting with those who have similar interests, which is something you learn to do all your life. Pariser (2011) pointed out that web companies can trap us in filter bubbles by tailoring our searches to our interests and viewpoints. Twitter always has suggestions of who to follow, and they are always people and groups who are similar to those that I am already following. Therefore, by following them, I am trapped in the filter bubble; my network may be getting bigger, but it is just more of the same.
This has helped me realize that my information diet is minimal and needs to be expanded. I need to get out of my comfort zone and start interacting with more groups and people outside the realm of educational technology. I took to Twitter and started exploring people and groups that I usually would not follow. I am not one to follow politics in education, so I started following some educational politics groups along with those who tweet a lot about educational news. Throughout the week, I started reading tweets and article links from these groups. It really opened up my eyes to different viewpoints in education. I feel more informed about what’s going on with education now than I have ever before from just one week of introducing new viewpoints into my information diet. With this new knowledge, I believe that the information I share out to my personal learning network will also change. I would like to expand what I tweet to more than just educational technology.
I also started following groups that focused on personalized learning for my wicked problem project. In the past, I have never took to Twitter to essentially do research, but I have learned so much about how others have implemented personalized learning in education. It is amazing how much you can learn from others if you know how and what to search for. Although personalized learning is in the realm of educational technology, following these groups has expanded my information diet as I have never focused my attention on this specific topic.
Therefore, I believe that social media and the internet can be wonderful resources, but we must be mindful when choosing who to follow and what to search to prevent ourselves from being trapped in the filter bubble.
Here is an infographic that summarizes my information diet before and after this week’s learning.
Gee, J. P. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Pariser, E. (n.d.). Beware online “filter bubbles”. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles#t-72874