Digitally Questioning Authorities

Dave Cormier commented on my previous blog post and it seems that my reply deserves a blog post of its own.

Dave expressed a lack of fondness for the digital immigrant language. To which I reply:

I recognize the difficulties of the digital native / digital immigrant construct. Determining whether someone is a digital native or digital immigrant is not simply a question of age, and I suspect there are more options than the dichotomy. Personally, I’ve often referred to myself as a digital aborigine.
He then goes on to talk about how digital media is affecting power structures in health care and education. To which, I reply:

In terms googling medications, or asking for a link, this is a big topic in healthcare and I suspect it parallels discussions in education and beyond. It probably reflects some larger issues. In health care, we talk about the e-patient movement and participatory medicine.

Is it polite for me to ask my doctor for a link to the medication she is suggesting?

Yes. It should be encouraged. Ideally, the doctor should be able to provide a handout with a link, or send a message via a patient portal with a link for more information.

Can i come in with the website that told me what's wrong with me?

This gets a little messier. One problem is that some people have a tendency to Cyberchondria. Also, the amount of information that patients bring in can, at times, be excessive, especially in these days of life logging. On the other hand, for special situations, patients may have access to more information than their doctors and bringing in information can be a great help. It also depends on how well the doctor responds to information being brought in or whether there is some other power struggle going on.

The final question Dave asks is Is it polite to digitally check an expert?. This, it seems, is the key underlying question. Years ago, I wore a T shirt saying Question Authority. I’ve always believed it is not only polite, but important to check experts, no matter whether we do it digitally or using other media.

Teaching Cultural Competency to Digital Immigrants

Working in health care, I often come across the phrase, Cultural Competency the idea of providers delivering services that are respectful of the diverse cultural needs of the clients. Often, the cultures considered are ethnic or based on country of origin. However, there is an important culture that doesn’t get considered, digital culture.

In2001, Marc Prensky mapped out the digital culture divide in his seminal work, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. He focuses more on educational methodology and content, but it is interesting to think of this in terms of cultural competency.

When I was young, the telephone hung on a wall in the kitchen. If the phone rang, you answered it. It was rude not to answer the phone. Then came answering machines and caller id and it became culturally acceptable to screen calls.

Now, I hear digital natives telling their parents it is rude not to respond immediately to a friend’s text message. The cultural shifts continue. To use the phrase from Linda Stone, today’s digital natives are expected to pay Continuous Partial Attention to their digital peers. Asking them to do otherwise is to ask them to violate the rules of their culture.

There are times when we have to choose which culture’s rules we are going to follow, but we have to remember if we are providing services to members of a certain culture to seek follow the rules of the culture we are serving. If you can’t, you need to at least be aware of how you are violating the rules and seek ways to mitigate this. Whatever the situation, it is important to stop and consider to what extent we find a behavior objectionable because of the social context we grew up in and how others might find our behaviors objectionable.

Other Objects

I continue to be in a state of overload. It is a condition I often find myself in, and with the Rhizomatic Learning xMOOC going on, I find this to be even more of the case. There are things I want to read, things I wrote to write, too much commotion around the house and too little time to write.

One idea that I’m thinking of exploring is contemplation in the twenty first century. What is the relationship of praying without ceasing, being in the world, but not of the world with Continuous Partial Attention?

I’m taking time off of work this week to attend “Love bade me welcome” - Bringing Poetry into the Life of Your Church.

The conference description starts:

Designed especially for church leaders, this two-day conference will feature inspiration and practical guidance in the many uses of poetry for worship, liturgy, meditation, and education.

The signup sheet lists different roles in the church, Clergy, Worship Leader, etc., and ends with ‘Other’. I selected Other, overloaded with meaning from Hegel, Sartre, Lacan, Derrida, and Levinas. With other, I conflate, object, the lost object, the partial object, the transitional object, l’objet petit a

At this point in my writing, I wander through links about concepts like ‘other’ and ‘object’. I look at the biographies and writing of some of the speakers. I wander off briefly into Greek mythology.

But now, sleep beckons.

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Everett’s New Lungs

This morning, I woke up to a Facebook post, “Everett has new lungs and they are working!!”

The phrase that comes to mind is “Everett’s New Lungs”, like it could be a children’s book.

It was around eight years ago that I met Everett and his family. His sister had written a blog post criticizing the administration of the school she attended and was facing retribution. I wrote about it, attended trials and parties and got to know the family.

Since then, I’ve followed the efforts to get new lungs for Everett.

It is hard to find words to describe my reaction to this news. Joy and amazement seem like words that are too weak.

The post came nestled amongst other posts of friends who have been fighting cancer and have celebrated hearing that they were now in “full remission”.

It seems like I’ve been stumbling across so much negative news online these days, it is great to hear good news, examples of advances in science and in health care working.

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You Have the #Rhizo15

“Are you a leader? Are you a follower? Are those the only two options?” That old quote has come to mind a bit recently.

In the Rhizomatic discussion, we are currently talking about “what is the role of the facilitator/teacher/professor where we are using learning subjectives”. Are you a teacher? Are you a student? Are those the only two options? My initial approach was to talk about the importance of someone creating a structure, a safe place to learn.

Another context is a cartoon I shared on Facebook. A speaker addresses a crowd of people asking “Who wants change?” and everyone raises their hands. The same speaker addresses the same crowd asking, “Who wants to change?” and no one raises their hands. It seems like we see this all the time of Facebook. People trying to change everyone else’s opinions, but not being willing to change their own opinions.

Perhaps we see this best in current online political discourse. It is also showing up in the political process. Who are you supporting for President (for my U.S. friends)? Is this a person that represents your views, who you think will be most effective in getting polices that arein line with your views, elected? Can we get a transformational politician that will say something like,

The biggest lie people like me tell people like you at election time is, if you vote for me, I’ll solve all your problems. The truth is, the power to change this country is in your hands, not mine.

As much as I like this idea and the politician I’m quoting, it makes me think of the scene in Life of Brian where Brian tells the crowds, “You are all individuals, and they change back in near perfect unison, ‘We are all individuals’.

The power to change this country doesn’t come from voting for the candidate that promises change. It doesn’t come from voting for the candidate that tells us we have the power to bring about change. No, the real power of change comes from being the change we want to see in the world.

So, are you a leader? A follower? A teacher? A student? Do you have power, if so, what is it?

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