If a stranger were to examine my info diet, I wonder what reactions they would have to my very eclectic selections. Like most people I know, I spend considerable amounts of time glancing at my devices in search of information, from professional advice to personal big questions and tidbits. I crave the empowerment offered by these handy tools in spite of a constant fear of befuddlement. I believe, however, that the acceptance of this “befuddled empowerment” is what makes us growing and adaptive humans. And if this is not the right time to embrace a collective, organized mess, then I don’t know when is.
At the same time, never has society been more systematized. Although Nicholas Carr claims that this “cognitive overload” caused by our quintessential need to collect information is harmful for the formation of a long term memory, as well as for our capacity to make meaningful connections, I don’t think there has ever been a more productive time for the process of thinking and making thinking visible. I am not saying that Carr’s reasoning doesn’t make sense entirely. I can recognize the need for “paying attention” and the difficulties attached to the ease of “clicking”. My point is that this information overflow runs like an appetizer to a main course; it entices our brain to keep moving. In order to maintain our mind’s health, however, self-reflection is an essential process for our personal and professional lives. After all, whether you call it following and unfollowing, friending and “unfriending”, or listening and ignoring, selection has always been a part of human ecology.
Thus, in order to be self-reflective and selective, I started by looking closely at my feeds and performing a general clean-up. I proceeded to add three new sources of information related to the field of education. My recent reflection on learning disabilities made me visualize how unreliable my knowledge base is in that regard. Looking for solutions in assistive technology is a fascinating and necessary step for educators. Moreover, my own personal experience with a deaf sister tells me how fragile and dependent individuals with disabilities can be, and just how fundamental for their success is the support of parents and teachers with clear roles.
One of these inspiring specialized teachers added to my feed is Patrick Black, @teachntech00. Black has been consistently blogging about apps he has reviewed with the help of Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and other Special Ed teachers that can help all students in assistive environments. I especially like how structured and organized his blog posts are, offering reliable links for further clarification.
I have also added Karen Bolotin, @kbkonnected, another educator deeply invested in finding solutions for her “emotional/behavioral/special needs” students. An overview of her work demonstrates a focus on assistive technologies and tech integration to arts, reading and writing, which can also be beneficial for my ELLs.
Lastly, I started following @LDTonline, the Twitter feed of Learning Disabilities Today, which is a professional magazine specialized in learning disabilities. Their content is diverse and quite comprehensive, offering not only tech solutions and best practices, but inspiring stories.
I’m confident that the information I’m now absorbing will not only benefit me, but all of my professional circles. Learning new strategies and approaches is never too much. Furthermore, I believe that it is OK to feel puzzled by the possibilities that a cognitive overload brings to our lives. It should lead to the ability to question wisely, which, in turn, allows us to reflect on what is important for us, as well as on what has lost importance and meaning. It can be as easy as clicking follow or unfollow.
Carr, N. (2011). The Dark Side of Information Revolution. [Video File]. Retrieved from http://bcove.me/7j4zpzwz
Featured image: Highwire, CC By Yumikrum