Telling the New Story — a Prologue

IL-TCE ConferenceI’m back in Raleigh and back in my office, after getting up early to take the dog for her customary four-mile Saturday morning walk. Yesterday turned out to be a great day with my presentations, getting to know (even better) my friends on the conference committee of the IL-TCE (Technology Conference for Educators), and finally having some time after the conference to visit with my friend Tammy Worcester, and my new friend, Tony Vincent, both featured speakers at the conference.

The day started out a little rough, however. As Joe Brennan got up the introduce me for the keynote, and I got up to go stand in the corner during the introduction, the lapel mike remote box, which was clipped onto my belt, caught on my chair and exploded into many parts. So as Joe was telling a great story about the time that he and I almost presented together in Chicago (my flight got delayed), I was crawling around on the floor, in front of the audience, trying to find the parts of the device. We never found them all, but the mic worked and I carried on.

The speech almost smoothed out as I had rearranged the slides yesterday morning and was caught a little off focus a couple of times, but the end result seemed to have worked. The message is a good and important one, I believe, and the responses from people who came up after the address gave me faith that it went well. The next time I will deliver this address will be at Technology & Learning Magazine’s Tech Forum, in Florida next month.

The rest of the day went well as I delivered one presentation called Riding the Edge of the Wave, and two sessions called Right & Wrong on the Information Highway. For the Right & Wrong session, I played the EPIC 2014 video for the audience, and then asked people to discuss among themselves and then suggest to the group aspects from the video that concerned them. I recorded this part of the two sessions and hope to make it a future podcast.

Two basic themes came out. One, that in an information environment that is so contributed to by “us” and so arranged to suit “us”, how will we be able to tell true information from false information and valuable information from worthless information? This sparked some fantastic discussions that drew in aspects of several of the other sessions from the conference. The conclusion was two fold.

  1. That part of the skill of reading information is the skill of proving that the information is true and reliable.
  2. That part of communicating information is including in the message the evidence that it is true and reliable.

The second theme, I fear, is going to be even more troublesome and much more difficult to address. Several people in both sessions brought up the idea that as information becomes more personalized, catered to our interests and our predispositions, might we become an even more polarized society. If we hear only those messages that agree with our world-view, what happens to our dealings with people from other world-views. How do we address this in the classroom? I don’t know.

I guess what really interests me about this issue is the societal implications — and I try not to look at it from a self-centric point of view.

What might a world be like, with idea nations, rather than geographically boundaried nations?


4 thoughts on “Telling the New Story — a Prologue”

  1. “What might a world be like, with idea nations, rather than geographically boundaried nations?

    “Whoa!” is right. How unpatriotic!! Just imagine how people’s views would have to change, how globally they might start to think and act, and how wealth and success might be redefined.

  2. The ‘idea nations’ concept is one that I actually had this week as well, as I try to process the shifting, changing situation of the world scene. As I look out to the 13 year olds in my classroom, I am trying (hard) to get them some critical thinking, problem solving skills to deal with the somewhat unknown and dynamic future that lies before them.

    As a PoliSci nerd, I think the ‘idea nations’ phrase is one that needs some fleshing out, but in general communicates the possibility that national unity may not have anything to do with your physical location. This may seem like a small example, but as I watched the Olympics, the national unity seemed less present than in the past. It was still the Olympics and it was fantastic to watch, but the sense of country competition seemed as important as the competition between competitors from the same country. Athletes were dating across country boundaries, Americans coaching other national teams… maybe that was a small, but visual representation of this ‘restructuring’ of the world scene. It isn’t about the country, but about the sport.

  3. Ahh a world of “Idea nations” – this is provocative David,

    Idea nations seems to me quite an alarming futuristic scenario – I think you could/ should unpack it further (flesh it out) through Bereiter and Scardamalia’s interpretation of Popper’s three-world schema for educational processes.

    If World One is made up of nations separated from one another by the “ideas they share”, and

    World Two is made up of nations separated from one another by the “many ways in which they think about the ideas they share”,

    Then I think I would want to inhabit a World Three – where divisions between nations are based upon how they “reflect upon the many ways of thinking about the ideas they share”

    “Nations that think about thinking” – lets hope that every nation might fall into this category

  4. I don’t want to go to deeply into this nation of ideas thing. It’s been more than thirty years since my last PoliSci class and twenty years since I last taught social studies. It seems to me that the way to address the polarizing affects of the new information environment is through becoming a more open and tollerant world society. We need to find a way to be less threatened by the ideas of others. We need to “not be afraid!”. I don’t know what that kind of education would look like, but I do know that it needs to happen when people are young.

    Just 2¢ worth on less than solid ground 😉

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