When searching facebook or twitter or a news outlet, I often find myself reading a story/article of some sort, but that is not what really grabs my interest. What really gets my attention is the ‘comment’ section attached to each article or video. I guess I should mention these articles/videos are rarely your ‘happy go lucky’ variety that make everyone laugh and smile and want to live happily ever after. No. I read the controversial ones, the political ones, the ones that make you question humanity at times. And then I read the comments. They are brutal! It is truly shocking what people will ‘say’ to one another when they are protected by their computer screen. I think these comment sections replace the ‘human side’ of people and replace them with some mean, hating creature that wants to disagree and fight just for the sake of disagreeing and fighting.
However, both both Alec and Michael talk about the ‘good human side’ of technology. About how amazing people can truly be when connecting with complete strangers from all over the world. The pictures Alec shared about random people helping a man make his final picture of him and his mom together just perfect had me tearing up. And the video he shared about senior citizens from the USA helping young teens Brazil learn English was one of the best uses I have ever seen of the internet. Both of these help resotre some of my lost faith in humanity. These people were being good, just to be good. No reward was given, no money received. They were just helping each other out because they now had the technology to do so. Michael’s fun and happy discussion about how the original ‘Zuma Zuma’ video resulted in a chain reaction of people from all of the world having a genuinely fun time. This single man from Jersey caused millions of people to smile if just for a few minutes. And this was all possible because of a littel thing called YouTube.
This is how I would love to integrate this new ‘tech culture’ into my classroom. I want to use technology to tap into the ‘human factor’. It almost feels like a paradox to type that. How can being alone in a room with a computer actually make us closer? Weird to think about, but the above examples prove it to be true. I want to take my future students on field trips without leaving the school. I want them to learn about other cultures not from a textbook but from students across the world. I want them to put their concerns out into the world, and know that they world can actually hear them. A “simple” device can now make that all possible.
I will also teach students in the new ‘tech culture’ about digital literacy. Not just the ‘catfishing‘ that Alec talked about, but about what they, themselves are putting out there. Do they want to simply be one of those meanies in the comment section, or do they want to be a kid from Jersey bringing smiles to people’s faces? I will stress the important of the internet, and how once it is out there, it can never be taken back. For me I think a good rule of thumb is, “if you would not say it to someone’s face, don’t type it either!”
In general, this tech culture has endless potential to connect schools and students from all over the world. To learn things that would have been impossible in past generations. I truly beleive this is now the best tool for any school or teacher to utilize, and to not teach our students how they can benefit from it would be a disservice for everyoen involved. But I think there still has to be that ‘human factor’. The thing that lets people connect and truly learn from one another. In this day and age, I think the human connection is more important than ever.