As I read the “geeking out” section of Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of findings from Digital Youth Project, I could not help but feel that the concept of being interested in something to the point where one actively researches it seemed familiar. Eventually feeling comfortable enough with the material that one is willing to create and share their own work, was also an experience that I too have shared. The common thread among the case studies presented in this section appeared to be not only were the participants using technology to further their understanding of a particular activity but were also taking their passion to the next level by creating pieces of work that reflected their interest and ability in the activity. In the case studies presented examples included participants making music, anime music videos, and game guides.
The authors mention that “geeking out is usually supported by interest-based groups, either local or online, or some hybrid of the two, where fellow geeks will both produce and exchange knowledge on their subjects of interest.” As I read this, I could not help but think of my own experiences with “geeking out” over theatre. Growing up I was interested in the performing arts, however not many of my friends in the local community were interested. Thus, like the people involved in the study, I sought out avenues to further my knowledge and abilities. Luckily there was a group close by that was interested and my parents signed me up. Over the course of the past twenty-one years I have continued to develop my passion for theatre and I have had wonderful experiences as an actor, producer, costumer, sound operator, lighting operator, props master, and stage manager.
Reading the examples, I felt a connection with the participants, because they were following their interests, not for the potential profit, but because they had a passion about the topic. Regardless of the availability of the Internet, chances are we have all had an experience where we “geeked out.” What the Internet has done is expand the tools, methods, topics, and even spaces for “geeking out,” by creating places for people to connect with others from around the globe who share their passions. As educators we hope that students will follow their passions in life; the rise of the Internet has provided the opportunity for students to ‘geek out’ with others of similar interest without being limited by their geography. In order to encourage this we must expand our own ideas and concepts about what constitutes an acceptable demonstration of knowledge.
I remember being at a workshop where the presenter showed us the video “The Evolution of Dance.” The video showed a man who had “geeked out” over dance. Throughout the video music from different artists and eras is played, as the music changed he modified his dance to reflect the style of the song and period. After the video was played our instructor asked us to evaluate its worthiness as a piece of evidence that the man had gained knowledge in the area of dance history. The general consensus was that it did even though there were no essays, PowerPoint presentation, or speeches. The above example illustrates how our ideas of authentic assessments need to expand to reflect the interests and abilities of our students. By doing so we can hope to create a class full of students who are willing to “geek out” both in life and at school.
Pippin Cast by Roger Walker (used with Permission)
The Evolution of Dance by Judson Laipply