The Greatest Change in Human Communications

girl-string-phoneEven if you’re only peripherally engaged in the explosion of social networks, self-publishing, new media and other internet and web-centric tools, you can’t help but notice that there is a profound and fundamental shift occurring in human communications.

As someone who works with people from 20 years old to 60 years old within the context of internet and web technologies, I’ve been acutely aware of the changes going on and often use the phrase, “We’re living in a time of the greatest shift in human communications ever.” I can tell you that even the under 30 crowd is just beginning to understand the tools, capabilities and impact all of these new communications technologies and methods are having on their personal and work interactions, while the over 40 crowd (to which I’m definitely a member!) are often completely clueless about what’s going on.

Many educators with whom I’ve talked about this — within the context of TEL.A.VISION and their involvement with the power of students creating their vision while simultaneously utilizing web-based tools that teach these already invaluable skills — are discussing how others should introduce it into their classrooms and to agree on the pedagogies and best practices (and are pleased we have a complete, turnkey curriculum, teacher guide and student packet, as well as student tutorials).

As the TEL.A.VISION team interacts with teachers and students in classrooms, as well as youth coaches, coordinators and other program managers, it is clear that the youth creating their TEL.A.VISIONs are remarkably comfortable with storyboarding, finding and using multiple media types, and aggregating whatever is necessary to create their own story and communicate their personal vision. They have so much fun with this creative process and it taps such a deep well of thought and inspiration within them, that already many leaders are discussing a once-per-year vision creation and have it be the heart of life planning, goal setting and academic achievement.

One blogger I follow is Kevin Jarrett, a K-4 Computer Teacher & Technology Facilitator at Northfield Community School in New Jersey. I haven’t yet reached out to Kevin about this topic, but saw this post of his and was incredibly delighted to read about a thought leader in education who is seeing what we’re experiencing (Richard E. Miller, Chair and Professor of English, Rutgers University). Dr. Miller has created a short but impactful presentation about the “new humanities” — which he’s now uploaded to YouTube — that is definitely worth a few minutes of your time to view.

By the way, I was stunned to hear Dr. Miller say at the beginning, “I believe we’re living at the moment of the greatest change in human communication in human history” which made me sit bolt upright and pay even closer attention to what he had to say.

In Kevin’s post he said this which is a perfect prelude to watching these two short videos:

Background: I saw Dr. Miller present this talk at a conference this past December and have been looking for it since. I emailed him today and learned he’d given the presentation again – and this time, uploaded a recording to YouTube.

It is fitting because as you will see in this video, Dr. Miller’s message is about something new as well, what he calls the “new humanities,” the technology-fueled convergence of visual, audible, textual and informatical literacies that represent, in his view, the future of human communication. A future, indeed, for which we are not prepared, largely because no pedagogies exist to teach it.

It is also fitting because Dr. Miller uses Dr. King’s work in an example of how these combined literacies allow us to explore, learn, interpret and represent ideas in new, original, powerful ways.

The ease with which he tells his story, shares his vision, and demonstrates the power of these literacies – and their role in the new humanities – is a staggeringly beautiful thing to see.

This is How We Dream, Part 1

This is How We Dream, Part 2