Dreaming in Digital

Dreaming in Digital

A mashup of Dreams by Ragesh Vasudevan
& Day Dream by Gauri Ma

My MacBook, I fear, is on its last leg.  Over the past two months it’s crashed three times during presentations, which is about three million times more often than it has ever crashed before (that is never) — and that’s with being re-booted only once every three weeks or so.  I’m sure there is something that could be done to fix this, but the hard drive is too small, the machine too heavy, and the battery life is too short — and I’m starting to lust for new tech. 

I spent some minutes on the Apple Macbook Pro web site earlier this morning and watched the video about the unibody design and its manufacturing.  Having worked in a machine shop and being familiar with many of the processes for carving out an elegant device enclosure, I was entirely impressed.

..and I’ll be dreaming tech tonight.

But this is part of our problem, I believe, that we continue to dream in tech because we still think and speak in tech.  I went back and reviewed some of the recent discussions about the power of “audience” with contributions from Dean Shareski, Clarence Fisher, and Jeff Utecht’s posts, and my additional pocket change — and this line struck me from a comment posted day before yesterday by Christian Long.  He wrote:

But in time, I truly hope that we will no longer be amazed that someone from ‘far away’ visited a ‘blog’ (after all, location matters not a bit when its all *one* Internet).

So what replaces the ‘far away’ appeal?  What should amaze learners when the novelty of audience fades?  Should learning amaze us?  Does learning amaze you?  Christian continues:

Instead, we need to shift to ‘quality’ being the point of both the content our student-learners create and the way our audiences respond (and mash-up) what we create.

Bingo!  What might be amazing to learners (what amazes me) is to see what happens to our ideas when we see them grow, become larger (or more condensed), attach themselves to other ideas that we’d not imagined, or explored from brand new perspectives — by virtue of their being bounced off of other people.

In one of my new presentations, I talk about the power of traction.  You can’t move without traction.  We need hard places upon which we can push and pull, and pushing and pulling with our ideas, testing them, confirming them, or growing them seems a wonderful way to learn.  Audience can be a huge part of that traction — but it’s not the only hard place.

Considering all of this, I’m happy to see that the word technology doesn’t appear in my Twitter Cloud for 2009. (click to enlarge)

We can also take an idea and punch the data around it into a computer and learn from the visualization that we chisel out of it.  It’s what comes back to us when we try to express our idea with an animation and learn more by pushing it through the interations that make it move.  It’s about using a word processor to work the words into the most precise and sublime expression of our idea — making it fresher, more crisp, and easier to talk about.

But we continue to think and talk in technology.  I continue to think about that brand new Macbook Pro riding more gently from my shoulder at my first 2010 conference.  But I need to shun the language of tech and think more in the language of digital information, networked information, in the language of information-abundance.  It’s this language that we should be using in our conversations and our presentations.

Zenas Lee writes in her blog that in Korea, dreaming in English is the people’s “dream,” that if they are dreaming in English, then they have achieved a significant level of fluency.  But in researching this idea, she seems to conclude, along with Linguist, Steve Kaufmann, and various others, that it has less to do with fluency, and more to do with dedication. ((Lee, Zenas. (2007, December 4). Dreaming in another language [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://zenas-psych17n.blogspot.com/2007/12/17-dreaming-in-another-language.html ))  We should direct our thoughts to the flow and glow of networked digital information and concern ourselves less with the tech.  The learning experience has to do with the information and what we can do with that information.  Our dedication should be to free and empower learners to push and pull their ideas and knowledge through the digital, networked, and information-abundant roadways. 

Our “dream” should be to dream in digital…

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10 thoughts on “Dreaming in Digital”

  1. For some reason, your post reminds me of the goal we have had for many years -to make the tech transparent. In my work in schools, I still see too many instances of drawing attention to the technology in an activity (e.g., ‘today we will use the Internet to research causes of global warming’ – why say tech is my thought?). Although it has become more transparent, there are still way too many people for whom using the technology, and pointing it out, is important and impressive.

  2. Yes, likened unto a shepherd in my case. I am surprised that there are numbers of students who are less digitally aware than I. That word “dedication” is important, both for the teacher and for the learner. I have spent six weeks attempting to get a seminar class in Social Studies to comment on one wikispace topic. It’s frustrating, because they seem to be dreaming in sepia, while I am dreaming in digital. How does one bridge the gap in the digitally illiterate?

  3. I like discovering that people from all over the world visit my blog. I got excited when I had the first visitor from India, and more excited with my first visitor from Japan, and even more when I saw my first African visitors. It’s nice to think that my teaching has a global appeal, and I like to think it helps spread the word about my school being a place where cool things happen.

    But you’re right. Where from, and how they get ‘here’ wherever here is, matters less than the ‘what’ they find when they reach/read you, and whether there is something that they ‘take’ away — be that inspiration, ideas, turning points, new concepts, beauty, or challenge.

    Thanks for reminding me that it’s less about the tech, and what kind of options of what to do with it that we make available to our students.

  4. I’m a newbie blogger. It has opened up a wonderful, connected, technological world. It feels like the best professional development I have ever done. But something has been nagging at my psyche through all this learning curve.

    I don’t read books as much anymore and I don’t go hiking as much anymore. If I was on my farm (South America) I know I wouldn’t even crack open the computer except to say hi to family. Not only is it not about the tech, but tech is not the end all and be all, and it is not for every learner. I don’t believe students will be left behind if they don’t have a computer. I hope that every child that would like to use one gets the opportunity some day, but lots of people prefer to learn other things, other ways. For many people their community can teach them everything they want or need to know.

    I’m very excited about integrating tech into my classroom. I know some really excellent teachers who will never do it and will still be excellent teachers. I also know some really bad teachers, who aren’t interested and are obviously the bane of existence for tech people, but even if they did integrate tech into their class they would still be bad teachers.

    David, I really enjoy your blog. Thank you!

  5. Reminds me of college when I did so many programming classes I dreamed in code…
    I love my new MacBook Pro 13″…I bought it this summer because school would not be able to buy me one.
    It slid off my counter at school (while closed, I turned my back and heard a crash). It just has a small dent in the corner and is a little lopsided.
    I too am surprised how little my students can do with technology, or are willing to try on their own (please look through the drop down menus before asking me). My Advanced Seniors in Physics still hand write lab reports????
    I am trying a blog with some classes for them to share projects and comment on each other (have used wikis in past). I have noticed a few out of town visitors, but wonder why they do not leave any comments? I am hoping for some outside voices to light a fire under the students.
    Like many schools we have many many hurdles with our tech (filtering, software not loaded, can’t log in all the time….40 computers for 700 students…)

  6. Hi David – as an elementary teacher (4th grade) that did a survey of his students the second day of school:
    and found that only 3 of 26 knew what country they lived in, less than half knew what city they lived in or which state they lived in, only 7 out of 26 knew their home address … there’s more …. I found your post timely. Since we use Blogmeister as our blogging tool I wish you could be here when a student gets a comment from China or Thailand or even Canada … it is truly one of the great motivators behind my students wanting to write and write AND find out on our earth globe or Google Earth where this place is. So I think maybe Christian’s comment:

    “But in time, I truly hope that we will no longer be amazed that someone from ‘far away’ visited a ‘blog’ (after all, location matters not a bit when its all *one* Internet).”

    is true … because that would mean that students may have gained a better understanding of geography in general … and world geography period. (my school is very at risk, so our primary grades teach a very narrow curriculum – mostly just literacy and math, that is a huge contributing factor here). Also there just might be a difference in how middle and high school students view and react to that “far away” contact, and how younger, much less connected students view or react. Just a thought.

  7. I agree that we need to stop “talking about the tech” and start talking about what we need to accomplish for our students although I don’t necessarily agree with Christian that we need to shift to ‘quality’. It’s not that I don’t think quality is important, it’s that I think we have always thought quality was important. I understand, I think, that Christian is saying that a project isn’t good simply because it is on a blog and I agree. Quality work is quality work whether it is “web 2.0” or a stick in the sand.

    So if we are not focusing on tech and we have always been focused on quality what should we be focusing on? I think we need to focus on what we can do to make our students better today. To me that means teaching them to communicate and collaborate because those are the skills that often lead to success. So how do we teach them to achieve those things? We can teach them how to present themselves well through multiple mediums. Whether its on paper, a blog, a video, a slidedeck, a podcast etc. They need to be able to communicate well but they need to be able to do it well in all of those mediums. No longer is being able to write enough to impress a college admissions officer or potential employer. We expect more. We expect them to collaborate, to be a ‘team player’. That now means not only within their division, their company, their industry but globally to all competitors, colleagues and consumers. Fortune 500 companies are on Twitter, Facebook, they are blogging and posting videos on YouTube. Why are they doing all that? So they can communicate and collaborate.

    So no, we don’t want to use tech for the sake of tech. We want to teach our students to communicate and collaborate and it just so happens that a portion of that now involves technology.

    1. Jason, I get your point about quality. Quality is what we want to see in our students’ work. But I would take your sentiments about skills one step beyond. I mean, why do our students need to be able to “communicate and collaborate.” Well they become master communicators and collaborators just because we tell them that this is what they need?

      I think we have to work beyond the means — to the ends. We want our students to learn to do great things, to solve seemingly insurmountable problems, to create great art, make sick people well, hungry people fed, and sad people happy. The curriculum should be about the ends, and then the means make a lot more sense to both teacher and student learners.

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