I "follow" numerous blogs with my Feedly account, but I spend the bulk of my blog "reading" time skimming post titles to see if I really want to read the post. The goal is less about learning and more about getting to the end of the queue.
I could go on and on with similar examples -- the email updates that are too long to read, how easily distracted I can be when reading or working online -- and I'm sure you could too. That's why this article by Nicholas Carr resonated with me from the title.
I encourage you to click the link and read it -- the whole thing. It's kinda long, so get a cup of coffee and a snack. He basically says that as we spend more time online we spend less time thinking about what we are absorbing. This instant connection to just about any bit of knowledge we want is causing us to be very shallow in our cognition. I love this line. "Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski."
I am a computer teacher. I love technology! That's not an inherently bad thing for us. However, I recognize I may be becoming one of those "pancake people" mentioned in the article -- with knowledge thinly over many topics.
I want something different for my students and for my daughter. I want them to know how to access knowledge with digital media, but I also want them to use that knowledge to think deeply and learn through experience -- not just flit to the next duck-faced selfie, then to fantasy football, then to... you get the idea.
I was taught to never present a problem without offering some solutions, so here come some solutions. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, and I welcome your ideas.
- Be an example. Model good digital media usage. (Confession: I am typing this while subbing in an English class. Since sitting at this desk, I have checked out Instagram, worked on my fantasy team, emailed my library, and texted a friend. Bad Mr. Dunlap.)
- Make this part of my curriculum. I push digital citizenship in my computer classes, but I also need to make discuss sticktoitediveness. This is not something I can push off on other teachers in other subjects, especially since my content area is causing the problem.
- In conjunction with #2, assignments (at least some of them) need to focus on deeply reading content and thinking critically about it. I'm still pondering what this looks like.
I'm no expert in this area, and I know my mind is traveling down this slippery slope. Hopefully I can help some of these kids to scuba dive deeply into a sea of words.
*I have to be honest. I typed that sentence and names of authors flooded my mind -- Christie, Tolkien, Clancy, Lewis, Grisham, Gladwell. Man! There are a lot of names on the list of authors I love to read. King is up there, no doubt, but let's say he's one of my favorite to read online.