by Hercules Invictus
Caught up in our daily schedules and familiar routines, we often fail to appreciate that we are living in wondrous times and that our technology gives us abilities previously reserved for mythical beings in ancient tales.
We are no longer impressed with the sheer awesomeness of our ability to fly anywhere in the world or converse with people who are actually very far away. Nor do we give a second thought to summoning obscure information by manipulating our fingertips or conjuring images of events from distant places or from times long past and viewing them on polished glass plates bathed in light. The fabled Atlanteans of old would be jealous of the everyday magics we so casually command, though to us they have become mundane and commonplace.
As an educator in these legendary times, I have seen the magic of technology permeate and transform all aspects of my profession, adding dimensions heretofore undreamed of to almost everything I do.
My classroom instruction continued learning, record keeping and communications are all facilitated by electronic devices that interact with each other through invisible networks. It is the challenge of our age to maintain the human touch in a world made increasingly smaller by miracle machines.
I am fascinated with exploring the potential uses of emerging technologies in meeting timeless human needs. And I delight in finding new ways of utilizing existing technologies to help my students attain even greater levels of success. I’m an artist at heart, so I welcome this challenge as an opportunity to master an ever-evolving medium and exercise my creativity.
Some of my favorite, and most satisfying, experiments have involved creating online communities. These communities can be generated freely through Social Media. Each will give you the tools you need to design something suitable to the needs of your group. With the ability to casually transcend the restrictions of space and time, these communities have allowed us to share resources and information about anything from improving literacy to obtaining employment or a GED. Students unable to attend due to illness can still interact with their peers, complete assignments and contribute to the class. There is a built-in peer support component for everyone participating and by allowing students access to the online tools they too can exercise their creativity in evolving the group to better meet everyone’s needs. And the group is there 24/7 for anyone with access to a computer.
Though the technology allows for distant interactions and the storage of content, online communities remain human gatherings focused on a common interest. I have seen real friendships develop as students shared their struggles and successes online. And I’ve seen the love of learning and the thrill of accomplishment eventually emerge in the postings of those most resistant to participating.
Yes, we live in wondrous times… challenging times… interesting times… times of rapid change and great upheaval. We should truly appreciate this and be grateful for it. And, as educators, we are fortunate to be in the thick of things, actively helping to shape a future where amazing gadgetry helps us to better connect, expand our horizons and actualize our potential as human beings.
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