Thursday, April 12, 2007

Facing the Digital & Real World, with or without hope.

Inspiration for today's post: June 2, 2006 blog entry by Barbara Ganley.

Ganley offers readers a chance to read the speech she presented at the first ever UK edublogging conference. She discussed several key points that struck a nerve.

"The assembly-line system of marching out knowledge in tidy boxes to be delivered at defined times in specified places produced generations of docile factory-workers and obedient, avid consumers. But our children, in spite of what they’re told and the obstacles placed in their path, have moved out of the boxes and into a fluid world where what’s evolving online is as vital as anything off" (Ganley, 2006).

We've read about the digital divide, we all know it exists, and yet today's rapidly evolving society is beginning to leave the have-not's in the dust. Don't agree? Consider Ganley's statement that research shows those who survived Hurricane Katrina and had access to the Internet were much better able to cope with the catastrophic course of events. The digital world offered information and, more important, connections to devastated residents. Remember my previous comment about the surge of blog usage during the September 11th tragedy? Those involved with blogging at the time felt such connection to the tragedy because they were able to communicate with those who were affected, those who knew someone who was killed, or miraculous stories of survival. As inhuman as the blog might seem, it has certainly shown its power when it comes to human feelings. In fact, the blog (along with other technologies) provides an outlet for the individual to communicate things that otherwise might be left unsaid. Teachers who are as rigid as wooden sticks are ignoring the correlation between today's digital world and the real world. I'm one of those teachers when it comes to IM language. Yuck, as I said before. Perhaps I, too, need to rethink my position and realize that we're not a stagnant world and things will keep spinning with or without my presence. There's an undeniable connection and those left without are at a serious disadvantage. Technology is more than a means to make things faster or easier, it is a way to connect, discuss, and learn from others.


"I have to stop hoping that anything can change; instead I must go about getting the work done. Inside. Where it counts. We edubloggers have to get our acts together, as you are doing here by gathering at this conference, forming communities amongst ourselves to lay out the direction. We’ve got to get the word out, show models, examples, proof—that means everyone of us needs to blog...We must listen as much as we talk. We must reach out to one another. We must risk failure. Every one of us in this room is deeply involved in the unfolding uture of this next generation, and as James Martin of Oxford’s Twenty-first Century Institute has observed, it will be up to this transition generation save this world or to lose it entirely" (Ganley, 2006).

Intense? I think so. Ganley faced losing hope but instead pressed on, knowing that "getting the work done" is more powerful. I'm not sure I understand the losing the world idea completely in this early state of my technology research, but I do understand the importance of opportunity and exploration. I'd be curious to hear commentary from the other participants in this conference.

Blog, the marriage counselor?

Allow me to end with a strange, somewhat humorous thought. If the blog does so much for personal communication, learning, understanding, and discussion, why not use it in marriages? I'm a writer, so it is my nature to write apology notes before saying the words, or to express my feelings in a poem. It's much easier for me to offer my true feelings in writing, rather than speech. I can totally see myself responding to my husband's "sorry for leaving the toilet seat up again" post with a "I accept your apology, but...." This could lead to a life-altering discussion about the importance of leaving the seat down, especially when it is 2 am and I don't know what I'm doing! Something might actually get done instead of the typical "mmmhmm." A stretch? Perhaps. But isn't it true that most marriages fail because the couple lacks communication skills? Hey, if it ever comes down to that, I might just give it a try.


Richard Wells said...

Hi Laine. I appreciated your post on many levels, as I myself have always found it far easier to express myself in written from as opposed to spoken form. It allows me to get my thoughts together, consider what I really mean to say, and phrase it in a way that I think will really get my points across. Whether that be my post-pubescent, "To His Coy Mistress"-esque attempts at acquiring love, or various letters to friends and relatives expressing love, anger, sorrow, or dissapointment, writing is simply my preferred medium of communication.

Since I began teaching, I have been an advocate of allowing (in some cases forcing) students to communicate with one another in class. They're going to do it anyway, so why not focus their energy rather than trying to subdue it? Blogging and other formats like discussion boards can provide teacher and student new ways to communicate and learn from one another.

Now, as I have said before, I don't think this in any way can or will in the foreseeable future replace face-to-face communication. There are times when my wife and I have had disagreements, and occasionally we have found that it is better for one of us (usually me) to leave the room so we can IM each other. Sometimes, it's just a better format. But if I were to try to have a marraige -- or any other intimate relationship with a person -- something surely would be lost if there were no face-to-face interaction.

Nevertheless, it is time we realize that technology, good technology used well, can help create enriching learning experiences for this generation that were never afforded to those who have come before.

Crystal Crozier said...

Laine, your marriage counseling idea while humourous isn't too far-fetched. Richard mentioned that he and his wife IM each other when aruguing, and when I read his comment, I immediately thought, "How strange!" Yep, imagine that. As I have stated in the past, I don't think that technology can take the replacement of face to face interaction, but I think it is a very close second.

Now, back to Richard's comment...The more I thought about it, the less strange it seemed. My husband and I communicate well. We talk daily about our days and our daughter, but for much as we talk face to face, when he is on duty at the EMS station, we IM back and forth, sometimes until the better part of the night. It is during these IMing sessions that we have made life-altering decisions. Wonder why it takes him being five miles down the road and in front of a computer for us to make these decisions? Maybe, it is because we aren't face-to-face.

Ann V. said...

Wow! I am the only one here who does not IM with my spouse. I barely know how, and I am sure that he doesn't! We better step it up!

Laine, perhaps you can use this article for one of our last assignments on International Perspectives. I happened to be looking ahead this morning ( although you guys have been the best group I've worked with in this entire endeavor, I am looking forward to th end, and can see the light at the end of the tunnel), and the assignment calls for a review of an e-reading looking at topics across many nations or is an article from someone from a different country-Is the author from the UK? Just a thought that might save you some time.

I just posted on Richard's blog about my fascination with blogs and that the topic doesn't matter to me so much that the "style" is appealing. I also like to think that perhaps my own writing style has evolved from spending time reading these. I think that blogs could provide an invaluable resource to students looking to compare style, content and form while actually learning something at the same time.

I know I have talked about the amazing connections I see taking place for people through their blogging as well. People are able to easily connect with people to get them through tragedies such as Katrina, or find out more about people suffering from the same illnesses, get job leads, find new friends. You are so right that teachers who are as "rigid as wooden sticks" are missing the boat and missing an opportunity to help students find more meaning in their educational pursuits.

I love the author's quote that you highlighted, "I have to stop hoping that anything can change; instead I must go about getting the work done. Inside. Where it counts. We edubloggers have to get our acts together..." For some reason I have been included on an email list for a particular basketball camp/shooting clinic, etc. -the closest memeber of my family to participating in anything like this is 5 (not that he isn't a basketball freak), but for some reason rather than unsubscribing to the list, or even just deleting the emails, I read them. The author always has a life lesson/basketball connection to share. He is always talking about "getting the work done" not unlike Barbara Ganley proposes. Again with the connections.

Finally, I don't know if you've seen this link already, but I came across it in doing my research and thought it offered a lot of info: