An important dialogue has started at Facing History about ways to use Facing History online tools to nurture civic behavior in the digital age. More and more our online tools are allowing for students to engage with one another all over the world. This has been especially important in trying out new resources such as Reporter, Bully and Freedom Riders, as well as Facing History online courses, have brought together international classrooms to share a common core of knowledge.
The office is closed today as winter storm Nemo bears down on New England. I am sitting at my parents’ house with my dog at my feet watching reporters on all the different news channels get dangerously close to the ocean surf to demonstrate for viewers just how dangerous it is to get that close to the surf. Twitter and Facebook are in overdrive with friends posting photos of their backyards, front yards, and buried cars. Someone posted a link to a news spot from last night featuring her father and as I’m watching that on my computer the same spot is replayed on the television. To say that I live in a tech saturation world would seem like an understatement at this point. But I love it. I love how easy it is to remain connected to friends from around the country and how quickly I can meet new folks to engage with in conversation and debate…the only problem is finding the proper online venue to do so. Between spamming and vulgar tirades, online discussion boards are hit or miss at best. Fortunately though, there are online spaces that welcome and encourage intelligent discussion and through my involvement with Facing History’s online learning department I am constantly amazed by the individuals that come together to learn and challenge each other in our programs.
Digital Learning Day is coming up on February 6, and there will no doubt be a lot of conversation and debate about whether online tools can help students prepare for career and college. While career and college preparation are important goals, they aren’t the sum of the purposes of schools: Our educational institutions also have an obligation to prepare students for citizenship and for a reflective, ethical, and well-examined life.