Pop Your Filter Bubble

Like most people nowadays, I get my news via the internet. However, by clicking on my regular news sites, like the BBC, or other articles, like spoilers for Game of Thrones, search engines automatically cull my future search results to create what Eli Pariser calls, “a filter bubble.” The internet, Pariser continues, “is showing us what it thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see” (Pariser, 2011).

With algorithms constantly channeling and deflecting information toward and away from us solely based on relevance to our previous searches, one must actively seek new sources of information in order to encounter different opinions. This is the only way for new ideas to grow. Here are three Twitter feeds I added recently to help balance my information diet.

As an English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher in a K-6 elementary school, who is also pursuing an MA in EdTech, I am eager to explore new experiences technology can bring to the classroom. Waldorf Schools, on the other hand, approach the use of technology differently. @WaldorfEd in general promotes a non-tech approach to teaching students throughout elementary school. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that children should not have screen time under age two (AAP, 2016), yet most Waldorf schools extend this to the 7th grade. Instead, children develop their imagination within subjects through hands-on activities that stimulate the senses. This philosophy counters the other end of the spectrum which pushes technology as a solution to increasing student engagement. For me, the Waldorf philosophy serves as a good reminder not to implement technology unless it truly provides a unique educational experience.

Another constant struggle I experience in my profession is the question of how much direct grammar instruction EFL students need. My colleagues and I have found that some direct instruction of grammar rules, especially given the students’ lack of exposure to English outside the classroom, helps students better self-correct errors. But, it is easy to get carried away. Scott Thornbury, @thornburyscott, often posts well-researched articles, which contend that grammar teaching does not cause language learning. An accomplished teacher-trainer in English Language Teaching (ELT), Thornbury developed the Dogme ELT methodology, which focuses on emergent language void of textbooks or even a syllabus. The teacher creates conditions for communication and provides just-in-time language support. This approach is not possible in many formal schools, where students must pass tests following set curriculum. Nonetheless, I hope this feed will help me recognize the perfect dose and timing of grammar instruction for my students.

Lastly, I decided to follow The National Education Association. Having lived as a U.S. expat for over ten years, my mental impressions of the States can sometimes be degraded by mainstream hyperbolic media coverage. Regarding the U.S. public education landscape, @NEAToday covers the hardships of teachers’ unions, school conditions, and budget cuts, but also highlights success stories like those of community schools across the country. This feed helps me reconnect with the America I love, the one full of people fighting to make a difference.

Balanctwitter-312464_960_720e is crucial for the evolution of ideas. By searching for and interacting with viewpoints different from our own, we push ourselves to grow and develop our thoughts. Twitter is an excellent tool for creating and receiving a steady stream of balanced information. Challenge your ideas and pop your filter bubble.


ClckerFreeVectorImages. (2014). Twitter [Online image]. Retrieved from:  https://pixabay.com/en/twitter-tweet-twitter-bird-312464/

Giardino, Gisela. (2011). nothing but… [Online image]. Retrieved from:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/gi/5497134432. Modified 4/13/2016.

Pariser, Eli. (2011). Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” at TED2011 {Online video}. Retrieved from:  http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles#t-222538

The American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). Media and Children. Retrieved from:  https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/Media-and-Children.aspx


One thought on “Pop Your Filter Bubble

  1. Justin,
    Greetings from the US. I really liked your wording in reference to the America you love.

    Your graphic as a header grabbed my attention and my eyes were instantly drawn to the ‘you’ bubble. I’m fascinated by the school you refer to that limits technology for a remarkable length of time. I am reminded to check my Twitter feed to see if I’ve followed such a foundational organization as NEA. It must be an interesting challenge to immerse yourself in your overseas role while remaining current with the educational practices and trends in the US. The flow of your blog post marked by a solid, succinct conclusion created a visual memory for me. While I initially struggled to incorporate Twitter via the three new feeds, I found that over the course of the week I was challenged to consider alternate viewpoints and expand my thinking in the realm of technology as part of Innovation (my Wicked Problem).

    All the best to you in your teaching career on the other side of the big lake!


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