The Human Brain in the Digital Age

Cathy N. Davidson’s book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way we Live, Work, and Learn, is about the human brain and human potential in the digital age.

The heart of the book focuses on how the phenomena of “attention blindness” shapes our lives. In order to focus and pay attention to any one task we filter out many other things that are happening around us.  As a result we have blind spots. But we don’t all filter in the same way.  Our focus is idiosyncratic.  While attention blindness pigeonholes our perspective, Davidson argues that the digital age is providing new ways of seeing and learning that’s based on multitasking our attention.  Social media is allowing us to aggregate perspectives and generate a bigger and more accurate picture by seeing together.

While digital tools offer ways to mitigate the problem of attention blindness, our institutions of learning and work are still designed to meet the social and economic needs of last century. How do we prepare students for the challenges and workplaces of tomorrow? Now You See It provides glimpses of the future by highlighting visionaries and pioneers who are helping to shape the nature and direction of education and work.

Social Media and Learning

We are witnessing the emergence of something profound: humans, historically divided by geography, culture and creed, are beginning to connect and collaborate on a scale never seen before. The driving force behind this creative wave are digital tools and networks that allow new forms of collaboration and knowledge creation.

What starts out as social networking is evolving into social production.  We’ve witnessed how self-organizing groups, leveraging social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia, have launched revolutions throughout the Arab world and created the most importance reference work in the English language in less than 10 years.

The opening paragraphs from my latest PBS article on the case for using social media in education.

Embrace the Backchannel

TodaysMeet is a web-based backchannel that helps connect a class in real time by allowing students to make comments, ask questions and provide feedback. This can be done when a teacher is giving a presentation, a documentary is being watched or utilized as a forum for breakout discussions. TodaysMeet doesn’t require anyone to signup. You can simply name your virtual room, how long you want the virtual room to stay active for and a URL (web address) is created.