As our semester draws to its close, we end with penultimate week with Negroponte, who discusses bits vs atoms. His foresight was impressive, since his article was written in 1995. Even then, he knew that reading, researching, writing, teaching, accounting – heck, thousands of tasks were being revolutionized. “As one industry after another looks at itself in the mirror and asks about its future in the digital world, that future is driven almost 100% by the ability of that company’s product or services to be rendered in digital form” (p. 5).
It is now 2011, and bits as well as bits-about-bits are familiar territory for all of us TCR-types. One of the many things I learned over our semester together is that it is more or less a one-stop shop. Since then, record and bookstores, like so many other businesses and niches, have become obsolete or have expanded online. Most electronic resources are slicker, infinitely more efficient, practical, engaging, and certainly more significant in our day and age. I didn’t realize how much I depended on it until I wrote one of my posts for the Composition wiki final, which made me pause for a second. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, it is out there, our beloved information superhighway is here to stay, it is all-pervasive, and it is in our best interest to evolve with the times.
Most of the times I agree with Negroponte, that the acquisition of technological skills is hard fun, but there are times when I don’t want to struggle with learning a new interface, a new platform. Sometimes I’m tired, and I want something that doesn’t challenge me as I’m structuring a document or navigating through it as I set it up. I get annoyed with silly iTunes rules…but I sure do like the results once I’ve ironed out the technological wrinkles.
We are lucky, aren’t we? No more card catalogs like we grew up with. No more heavy textbooks either. We have an entire universe of 13 trillion websites at our disposal for our educational purposes. If we don’t know how to do something (What are good examples of APA style / white papers / collaborative learning?), we simply look it up on the web until we get exactly what we need. As Negroponte mentions, learning by doing has quickly become the rule rather than the exception.
We educators must think and re-think what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it, and why. This is more important than ever before because as someone in our class recently mentioned, our students think in bits. It is our obligation to search for relevant solutions in order to make those important student-teacher connections, to push students along just enough so that we don’t discourage them, to seek those tools that will assist us in delivering our message and winning over as many as humanly possible.
Thanks for a very frustrating, terrifying, invigorating, and supportive semester. Our organic and dynamic discussions, readings, explorations will surely carry over into so many aspects even a month from now as some of us teach new semester classes and most of us take more TCR classes. It has been a trip.