About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Depth of learning, communication, and "connecting"

One of my students mentioned that his aunt, a "thirty-something" pointed out that her nieces and nephews spent more time on the computer making superficial connections on facebook than going out and making "real" connections face to face.

I have found that students prefer to discuss problems in class over the internet, as they don't have to face a professor face to face. I wonder why. I feel it is a fear of that connection or is it a fear of negative feelings? Students are bombarded with images where bad things happen, and the person walks away having brushed it off. I wonder if we are programming our children not to feel, as this is what it "should" be? But then in class, we get into a discussion of facebook, and within my class, there is a divide between those that can't live without it and those that want nothing to do with it.

I feel that perhaps we are dealing with a number of issues here:

  1. In our culture, people are not expected to be sad for long periods of time (as with the co-worker whose boss commented 6 months after the death of her teenage sister, "it's been 6 months. You should be over that now."). As a result, the internet has become a vehicle for "closet sadness" or anger or any negative feelings. In fact, the anonymity the internet gives us, allows these emotions to go to the extreme.
  2. Our culture is "short-term": short-term results, short-term relationships, short-term learning. As a result, there is a lack of depth and reflection in much that we do. I am not sure how to change this as I don't see our culture changing. However, tools such as blogs might be one step.
  3. We live in a culture of cutting down instead of building up. This is something that I see beginning to change. While the political races still "cut down", I find many times that it is in response to an out side force (usually a sound-bite from the press). However, I find that the new online media and access to full speeches has made it possible to see how many people have a common vision which is different than our current society. I have seen a move towards convergence (think of what is happening in New Orleans now, when nothing seemed to happen for the first 2 years after the flooding and wind damage).
So as the eternal optimist, I have hope with the new technologies and a new generation of students that our society will change for the positive. I hope that there will be deeper thinking, understanding, connectedness, sense of community, etc... that perhaps looks different than after WWII, but is still as strong in terms of hope and opportunity.

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