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.
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, recordkeeping 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 Hotmail, Yahoo, Google and other popular e-mail providers. 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 members of Hercules Invictus, 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.
Thor the Barbarian
Earlier versions of Info-Tech Musings were published in Literacy That Works!
and Community College Week.