Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Digital Nation Complete

I just completed watching the PBS video Digital Nation.I have to say that I am blown away with the material in the video. I am left with one overwhelming thought: Balance. Gosh technology really seems to be changing so much of what we do and on one hand it seems to be offering so much; creating a level playing field, but on the other, there is the question of what are we giving up becoming a digital nation. What is the "Price of Gain?"

One take away from that video is the impression that the older the children get in school, the more abused the technology is. For example, they talked about games in the classroom or using Ning to build a community for a classroom. The impression that I was left with is that these media's are mostly being used in a positive way - enhancing the learning experience. As opposed to older students, high school and college, being overly connected and unable to "create a linear thought process." Students who are on social media sites or google during class - and also doing their class work. Then there is the question of whether or not our brains are actually able to multitask? Seriously - I never stopped to think of whether or not our brains were built to multitask - is this part of our evolutionary evolvement (gosh, I have been a stay at home mom for a couple years now, and it feels so good to have the opportunity to turn my brain back on)?

Another striking moment was "Bubbe" the 83 year old woman who runs a cooking show on line. Seriously, my parents don't even have an ATM card. I think it is amazing to see someone be able to embrace technology at her age, but I wonder if it a geographic/cultural change. My parents have spent their entire lives in Maine. As I said earlier, they don't have an ATM card and don't feel as though they need one. However, my in-laws live in Boston. They both received ipads for Christmas and have embraced the technological changes - even if they are not very good with them.

The chapter on Gaming reminded me of the creation of Soap Operas during the 1930's (as I write this, I am opening another page to verify my facts on google...standby please... Okay, I'm back after reading an e-mail from Pottery Barn kids - they know too much about what I look at on their website) as a way to allow people to escape their own lives and momentarily live a new, more exciting or less difficult life.

I am also intrigued that IBM has adopted Second Life as a business tool to bring people back together who are working remotely. Having recently left the working world, I was using IM on a regular basis even with people who sat 15 feet from me, interesting that IBM has gone so far as to offering classes to their employees to teach them how to use Second Life in their business life. Now we are looking for employees who have two totally different sets of skills, one set used to do the job they were hired for, and another set on being able to use digital media.

My final thought was how advanced the US Military is becoming in their recruitment tactics and operations. Pretty freakin' amazing! Regardless of how you feel ethically, you have to be pretty impressed with their ability to change direction and introduce technology in their operations. Now for all of the money they spend on the military, you expect them to be at the cutting edge of technology. Imagine if they spent an equal amount on education? However, would we be able to quickly integrate technology as quickly into our education system even if we had the money?

So as I venture on this journey and become digitally savvy both personally and professionally, I am keenly aware that I must find a way to balance technology - control it, as opposed to IT controlling me. I must find a way to embrace the new techniques it offers in teaching a generation of students while not loosing those skills that we have held in such high regard until now.

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