In his September 7, 2008, New York Times article entitled, “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy, writer Clive Thompson offers new and compelling insight into the world of digital communication.  I must confess that before reading this article, I like many others viewed Texting, Blogging, Facebook and MySpace as a waste of time.  Who had the time to invest in establishing, designing and maintaining a page?  Who had the interest?  Not I.

The few pages that I had seen seemed like nothing more than self-indulgent, non-celebrity news, advertisements for the regular people.  My guilty pleasures never involved reading about celebrities and they were not going to involve reading about the minute to minute tedious details of the lives of “friends”.

Reading a “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy”, offered a more engaging and unique perspective of realities of digital expression.  Thompson opened my mind to the concept of “ambient awareness”.  He states that “It is, they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on their mood through the little things he does-body language, sighs, stray comments-out of the corner of your eye….Each little update -each individual bit of social information-is insignificant on its own, even surprisingly mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friend’ and family members lives…”

As stated by Marc Davis, a chief scientist at Yahoo and former professor of information science at the University of California at Berkeley, told him, “It’s an aggregate phenomenon. No message is the single-most important message…”  According to Thompson, .  “You could also regard the growing popularity of on-line awareness as a reation to social isolation. Ambient awareness becomes a way to “feel less alone”, as more than one Facebook and Twitter user told me”

In addressing my time concern, I found out that “awareness tools are not cognitively demanding”  because they are not really directed at you.  Therefore they do not take up a lot of time.  Also these on-line updates allow you to increase your number of “weak ties”-loose acquaintances, people you know less well.  According to sociologists “weak ties” greatly expand your ability to solve problems.  This could potentially help you to save time.

The ultimate effect of the new awareness, quotes Zeynep Tufekci, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County is that, “It brings back the dynamics of small town life, where everybody knows your business…the current generation is never unconnected.  They’re never losing touch with their friends. So we are going back to a more normal place, historically…”

Digital communication makes it possible to establish and maintain relationships with people all over the world.  Instead of traveling thousands, you need only travel a few key strokes to meet the world at your door.  Meeting the world at my door, now that is exciting.

clipart_computersWhat role will we, as teachers, play in Technolgy and Education Reform? Are we ready and willing to utilize all that technology; particularly the World Wide Web, has to offer in assisting us to prepare students to participate, compete, and thrive in the world today and tomorrow? What are our technological skills? Do we view computers and the internet as someone elses domain? Have we stayed current with technology? Can we navigate the Web? Do we blog? Do we Tweet? Do we even know the meaning of these terms? Do we care? If we do not not care, then we should.

“Technology is the core and essential to the strategies we are using to reform education.” This comment was made by Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the United States Department of Education while addressing a meeting of the State Educational Technology Directors Association.”

As reported by Geoffrey H. Fletcher in an article from The Journal, “Obama Administration: Technology at the Heart of Education Reform”,  He cited the four assurances that are at the core of ARRA educational funding-college and career ready standards, preK to college and career data systems, improvements in teacher effectiveness, and providing intensive support for low-performing schools–and said you can’t do any of the four without technology, especially helping students in low-performing schools.”

Flether also stated that Aneesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer at the White House, said that technology in education is less about hardware and software and more about what we teach, the method in which we teach it, and professional development and support for educators.

If we ourselves are not technologically prepared, if we are not participating and contributing by incorporating technology into how we teach, then we will not be able to prepare our students to participate, contribute, and compete in the world.
If we are not preparing students to participate, contribute and compete in the world, then we are not doing our job.

Get connected.

To view the article in its entirety, go to http://www.thejournal.com/ArticlesTo view Obama’s America’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) go to http://whitehouse.gov/issues/education