Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
The following are some thoughts generated from the Distance Learning Alliance Conference in Ashville this past week. I was particularly impressed and inspired by what David Warlick (The Landmark Project) had to say in his seminars.
I’m truly excited about how empowered I am as an educator and sophisticated computer / internet user. Teaching online for the past 10 years has given me some real insights into the direction of education in this country. I have developed the skills I need to make a real difference in education both at my college and hopefully on a larger scale. We are living in a different world and we as educators must be thinking differently – more ‘out of the box’ different than ever before. We have all these new digital tools and yet we are losing so many kids in our educational system. We have evolved from a very linear industrial model to hopefully a more non-linear creative approach to imparting knowledge and information to our children. I think we have to give our young students more credit for wanting to use technology to learn in a completely new and innovative/creative way. Like David Warlick said in his telling the new story presentation, “the age of children sitting in boxes lined up in rows is coming to an end, and it’s about time.” This era requires new ways of thinking, communicating and socializing. Our kids for the most part are ahead of the technological curve probably for the first time in human history and it’s our role as educators and parents to help channel their creative energy into positive and productive directions in addition to imparting a set of positive core values that will guide them on their digital / cyber journeys. That is what is going on in this culture. We as educators are embarking on our own digital journey. There are technological and interpersonal skills in addition to some basic moral values that we need to bring with us on our cyber sojourns. Our young people are already ahead of many of us traversing the digital terrain – it’s up to us as educators and parents to figure out creative and innovative ways to guide them in positive directions and not let them detour into the digital dark places where hate, pornography, and predators reside. We are still the adults – still the educators and must. We may no longer be the didactic talking heads that we once were, however we must maintain a leadership role as guides – mentors and scouts in the digital realm. I we don’t, the cyber landscape will continue to evolve into a dark and chaotic environment as it is already in some regions of the internet. When you think about it – intellectualize what is going on in the digital culture there reasons to be extremely excited and at the same time very scared and worried about some of the digital terrain that our young people are scaling, exploring and investigating. I’m enthusiastic about this awesome power of all this newly generated information, yet at the same time I’m fearful of some of the negative and harmful content out there in the cyber hinterlands. It up to us as educators, parents and fellow explorers to take a very positive mentoring role in teaching our fellow sojourners how to distinguish between the harmful negative and sometimes very dark and hurtful regions in this new digital world we live in and hopefully generate positive production and thoughtful content that will contribute to the ever growing sphere of new information that is contributing to the betterment of humanity and the human condition. For the most part I feel confident that this incredible digital adventure the human race is embarked on will bear great fruit. No one really has a true grasp on how all this new information will impact the human race. Diseases can be cured, poverty can be addressed and hopefully eradicated in new and creative ways that may not have been thought of yesterday and who knows, some 13 year old geek in New Jersey may have an answer to a tiny piece of a puzzle that is keeping the medical community from curing Cancer or Aids. We just don’t know, although we do know that the digital global community has the potential to explore, investigate and solve major issues in ways we never thought possible 10-20-30 years ago. So we as educators must ask ourselves…do we want to be followers on the digital journey or leaders?
Director of Distance Learning
Carteret Community College
Morehead City, NC 28557