What is a blank slate anyway?

One sentence that really stood out to me in L&K’s chapter 7 talked about “a version of social learning as a process of proactivity for desirable outcomes” (2011 p.210).  This to me, in relation to social media, appears to be a sort of anticipation of what others say, or how they will react to a post for example.  I cannot say that I have ever viewed social media in that way.  When thinking of how this could apply to Twitter or Facebook this suggests that a person is posting looking for a reaction.  At first glance I think that sounds pretty self absorbed but it does make sense because typical posts are about babies, engagements, or what “fun” things a person might be doing that weekend.  How news or interactions bounce from person to person at such a rapid pace is essentially social media.

idea 2“If we want to learn deeply, we need to access the means, contexts and tasks that are integral to generating knowledge,” not just the usual regurgitation of facts or the proof of understanding by rote memorization (L&K, 2011 p. 212).  This is more of the new age approach to education that appears to be growing.  When I was in college, Facebook and social media in general were just starting to gain popularity.  I couldn’t imagine how individuals in high school and college have adjusted to the constant exposure to ridicule and judgment from their peers because of these open sources of communication.  Now instead of writing a 20 pages paper a person is designing a fully functional web page.  The difference in education has taken a drastic turn in recent years.

The idea of ‘guided participation’ in an assignment or class emphasizes the openness of possibility.  This level of engagement is paving the way for the new future.  For the first time in this book the foreseeable future of technology and of education was explored.  I am hoping that L&K have expanded upon what their initial idea’s were the next chapter.  The blank slate design leading to a deeper understanding of the material does come full circle when considering this class.  You start with a basic frame work and a blank canvas (or in this case a blog) and build.


Achieving long term goals when working on projects that are finite is something that may be difficult to gauge.  For example, how can I (a person who has never used social media) be compared to a person who has 1,000 Facebook and Twitter followers?  No one is a blank slate because every person comes with various experiences and backgrounds.  The need for a full spectrum of learners in every classroom is necessary for a more well rounded experience but determining levels of self improvement would be in my mind extremely challenging to determine.

When exploring the push and pull models of education I can’t help but wonder what happens to the traditional classroom.  As text books go digital and classes turn to online ones, what business will remain under the brick and mortar state?    By giving students both young and old the tools they need without ever having to leave their house, it seems that the eventual elimination of the old school eduction system may vanish.  With less interactions in person, how will people build their identities?  There is an endless array of questions that have no concrete answers.  Only time will tell if in ten years homework, classrooms, and school will even exist in the physical world (aside from being online).


New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning Ed by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel. McGraw-Hill Education 2008.

10 thoughts on “What is a blank slate anyway?

  1. Lisa Dise says:

    Hi Annie,

    Great post! I agree with you that I don’t understand the selfishness that comes along with Social Media. Maybe that’s why my Facebook page is so empty. Yes, I received some likes and comments on things, especially the minimal posts I write about my baby, but those are more for my family back home. If I lived closer I don’t think there would be much on my Facebook at all! You first paragraph reminded me of a phenomenon called “Vaguebooking” where a person is intentionally vague in order to gather attention.

    I think there is still a need, and we will have a need for traditional higher education institutions for the foreseeable future. Certain professions and trades can not be taught online. For example, I work for a health sciences college where we teach students in the medical field. Would you let a nurse take care of you who only took her classes online? I sure wouldn’t!


    • anniemelzer says:

      vaguebooking? Ha I love that term. My Facebook account literally exists of people tagging me and occasionally uploading pictures that I am in. I think I like hiding from public view. There is probably a fancy word for that too.


  2. La Dawna Minnis (@llminnis) says:

    Hi Annie,

    I think the best educational models don’t exist in one place or another, but rather allow for a variety of experiences in different spaces and places. I could also see how the classroom might change from a traditional classroom environment to a more shared learning space rather than become obsolete. This model of learning is already present in some montessori and charter schools; for example a charter high school I worked at had the last two months of the senior’s last semester designed to be time for a student directed project related to the community. The classroom was open for the students to come in and work, but they might also be out in the community participating in activities related to their projects. You might think that the students would just never show up to the ‘lab’ but most of them did every day.


    • anniemelzer says:

      Having the ability to focus on a community sort of project at the end of senior year seems like a great idea. I didn’t have the ability to take any college classes when I was in high school but I know there is definitely value in these programs. Anything to save some student loan debt is nice.


  3. Erin Dwyer says:

    I enjoyed your comment mentioning what will happen when everything is online and we lose interaction with others. I’m worried for that day. There was a movie a while back called “Surrogates” and everyone in this world is overweight, unclean, and very very unhealthy because they put their souls into a creature or robot and that is how they interact with others. I hope our world doesn’t come to that!!! Part of being the human race is socialization and half of what we learn is from other’s experiences not necessarily from books, videos, etc. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for everyone to be publicly educated from their own homes.


  4. Jason Dunbar says:

    Hi Annie,

    I think your fear of the unknown – as to the future of the traditional classroom – is understandable. With all of the advances in technology and ‘learning technologies’ it seems easier to give students the tools to drive their own learning experience. Do I think teachers or educators will be put out of a job? Not at all! If the ‘push and pull’ models makes its way into the K-12 system then educators like yourself will need to understand and convey the skills we have been discovering so students can become equally successful if/when this new model moves forward.


    • anniemelzer says:

      I guess I was thinking, is it even practical to have traditional classrooms? If so to what degree? If a teacher can engage students from long distance (online) learning, what use is there for traditional classrooms?


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