In Our Own Little Worlds (and that’s not bad)

July 28, 2014 — Leave a comment

Frontline ImageWow…my last REQUIRED blog post.  When I first heard that I was going to have to keep a blog, I groaned internally.  The idea that I was going to have to write every week worried me.  But, in the end, I took to it like a fish does to water, probably because I am opinionated and passionate person who always seems to have a lot to say.

One problem I have is that I am not always good at following the rules.  My Twitter bio even tells you I am a renegade pre-service teacher.  So it should be no surprise that my final post doesn’t exactly follow the directions as outlined by my professor.

One of my earliest posts was about another PBS production, Digital Media* New Learners of the 21st Century.  I enjoyed this video so immensely, I actually found myself writing a SECOND post about all my thoughts unrelated to the assignment.    So naturally I was thrilled when I saw Quest 2 Learn and one of its founders featured in this new video.  For this last post I found myself once again watching the amazing PBS – specifically a FRONTLINE episode titled “Digital Nation”.  This video features Douglas Rushkoff, who I have grown to really admire over the course of ED554, as we explore many digital topics where his opinions are rendered.

The documentary is a continuation of sorts of Rachel Dretzin’s previous effort, Growing Up Online.  Wanting to delve further into the questions of where all this technology is going and/or how it is affecting our world, Dretzin pairs with Rushkoff to deliver another thought-provoking documentary on what it means to be a human in today’s world.

I was meant to focus only on one chapter of this documentary, but of course I didn’t.   In my defense, the chapters were not delineated for me while I was viewing.  I began to think that maybe there were several other videos and this video was chapter one.  But then I figured out if you have the patience to fiddle with the video player in the small screen, you could sort it out.  Needless to say, I don’t have that kind of patience.

I found several interesting tidbits in this video, some good, some disturbing, and some a combination thereof.  For instance, I found all of the discussion about the technology in South Korea fascinating.  I guess in my own little bubble I didn’t realize they were such an early adopter of Internet technology.  But once learning that, the notion that they are the first to take steps in recognizing technology addiction makes complete sense.  I found the Internet bangs disturbing.  I know there are people who game all night at home, but the way these things were set up felt seedy to me.  Interestingly, I also found some of their technology lessons for the truly young a little unnerving.  That’s not to say I don’t believe kids that age should be learning about technology, but the song was a little over the top for me.  We need to teach netiquette, but we don’t have to create a mind meld.

I think the biggest idea expressed here is that technology is changing what it means to be human.  It is changing how we conduct business, it is changing how our children learn, it is changing how we communicate…I could go on, but I think you get the picture.  The issue is that I don’t know that we will ever have a full picture of how these new tools are affecting us, because I fully agree with the idea that the technology is outpacing the research at amazing rates.

It leads to the thought that the world has sped up and in many ways education has not.  Just like doctors and lawyers are among the last to convert to digital record keeping, education has struggled to keep up with the sea of technology available.  But I think as educators we have an obligation to provide this exposure to our students.  They use it at home.  They will use it, or something like it, as they go on to their big kid jobs.  Wouldn’t it be a disservice if we didn’t incorporate these tools in our lessons and their learning?  Just because something worked 30 years ago, doesn’t mean it is going to work today.

In the beginning of the episode, Dretzin notes that she is in the same house with her husband and three children, but that in many instances, they are in five different worlds.  I can completely sympathize with her.  As I type, I have one son playing Civilizations, and the other playing Mindcraft.  My husband is working from his home office.  And I am here in my own little world writing about the great digital universe.

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