Letting them lead … me to reddit

This week I let a couple of my students present a lesson on reddit. This came about when I asked a couple weeks ago what else they’d like to learn in the digital communications class they’d unwittingly found themselves in at the beginning of the semester. What I like best about this class is the fact that the class is fluid and malleable. It is different every semester. Sure, it has the major components of learning to use Google Drive and creating a blog on WordPress. And I have an educational obligation to teach digital citizenship; however, beyond that, I teach lots of apps, programs and social media that we can use to expand our learning network and resources.

So when these two guys suggested reddit, I didn’t mind, but I didn’t know anything about it either. Then there’s that whole thing about it not seeming to me to be very educational. They argued otherwise, and I challenged them to create a lesson. So they did.

Since they were the teachers this week, I figured I was a student this week, so to reddit I went. I looked at a couple subreddits (look at me, using the lingo and all), and then decided to go to the journalism subreddit, since they’d dropped that possibility especially for me into the lesson. *wink

That’s where I found the original AP report of Lincoln’s assassination. Fascinating read on a couple levels. First, reading about everything that happened that night at the theatre was interesting in and of itself. The reporter was able to go into the president’s box and examine the, erm, results after the event. He describes blood on the back of the chair on which Lincoln sat. The account of the president being taken across the street to a nearby house to await the Surgeon General and other surgeons created a vivid image in my mind. Of course, from paying attention in second grade (or was it third or fourth?), I know the end of the story, but now I have more first-hand detail.

That detail was told in a very editorializing way, which is the second reason I was drawn to the article. Journalism has changed dramatically in two centuries. The flowery prose, with no apparent guilt over the lengthiness, was incredibly different from the concise clarity we strive for now. The writer’s opinion was openly posed through his prose. I suppose, with no potential for images in the newspaper, writers went for imagery in their writing. That’s not to say that today’s writers are not capable of writing with imagery – they are. But they use their words more frugally.

After several days of messing around with reddit, I’ve come to the conclusion that reddit itself is the flowery prose of yesteryear. The story is definitely there, but there are so many words to wade through (read: subreddits, articles, comments, upscores, downscores and other distractions) that I cannot get to the meat of the story easily. My conclusion is that, though I can see the draw to some people, to me, reddit is a huge universe of too many ideas and the time it takes me to move through them to find something remotely useful to me is time I could have spent being productive in another way.

I appreciate the lesson. Now I know what reddit is, but I won’t likely go there often, and as for “using” it – probably not.

About teachjournalism
I am a high school teacher of journalism, technology and reading. I advise the school's newspaper and yearbook, both student-led publications. Documenting and sharing my experiences is a way of reflecting to improve my own work and and inviting commentary so that we might all benefit. I believe, as I tell my students each year, that we all learn from each other.

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