Thursday, August 29, 2013

What is democracy - or what am I doing to start off the year?

Next week I will meet my AP Government students. The first day we will get to know each other and then for homework I will give them the top video (no reading the first night).  We will then begin class by answering any questions they may have (using a Google form) and then they will take a short quiz (very straight forward) during which they can use their notes.

Then in class we will read the Hauss e-book definition of democracy which is a five part discussion.  His definition is partly on pages 27-30.  Each student will take notes and in small groups they will discuss the five items to make sure they have understood the concepts and I will move around between the groups to help out.

With that definition in mind I will want my students to tell me if what is happening with algorithms is good or not. The Filter Bubble is a very interesting book two summers ago.  The author makes a great argument for the filtering of Facebook, Google, etc. and how we are limiting what we are seeing which follows the reasoning of The Big Sort.  Combined (and I will show the short video above to describe the "filter bubble") the two make the argument that we are self selecting into groups of people just like ourselves, which is why you end up with a House of Representatives that generally only gets 40 competitive elections each election and is that good for democracy?  This will re-enforce what the term is and make my students consider if they like the impact of outside online resources on their lives.   By the way if you want a search engine that does not consider your personal needs, you can use Duckduckgo.  Use it alongside Google and look at the differences. 

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