Friday, April 8, 2016

Connected Educator... ...Chapter 7: Attitude and Opportunity in the Digital Age

Connected Educator... ...Chapter 7: Attitude and Opportunity in the Digital Age

Skeptic: According to the Oxford Dictionary, a skeptic is "a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions."

I lately indulged myself in the book The Professor and the Madman and discovered that I myself am a skeptic.  I make assumptions of validity until I am convinced otherwise by cold and hard facts (or that which I define as truth).  In now considering myself a "Connected Educator," I no doubt have shifted my thoughts on connectedness and technology in the digital age a 180 degrees.  What once was wrong is now an opportunity.

We as educators find ourselves traveling in canyons, up mountains, and back again when considering professional growth and opportunity.  What does it take for us to drastically shift our way of thinking?  I argue that it is attitude.  If we are looking for deception and void we will find it.  If we are looking for opportunity and possibility, we discover that we only know what we know.

There are 3 different circumstances which have led me to defining myself as a connected educator.  Some seem trivial while others seem prolific.  I leave you to judge.  First a connection with "the madman."

The Professor and the Madman tells the story of the greatest human contributor to the Oxford dictionary.  After reading this book I will never "read" another dictionary the same way again.  The "madman" as he is termed in the book takes the attitude of a philanthropist in his darkest time.   Jailed, insane, and alone, he uses the opportunity to follow a calling to contribute to an unrewarded project in which he desires no recompense.  This leads to a mystery in which opportunity leads to greatness.  What is the setting of our professional life?  Where do our opportunities lie?  What is our attitude?

Out With the Old and in With the New

Courtesy of

One of my first opportunities to dive into the digital age had to do with a yellow notepad.  I took extreme care to always take notes and have my yellow notepads with me at all times.  What I didn't realize is the opportunity knocking at my door with the introduction of the Ipad.  I took notes, drew pictures, planned out lessons, and even sketched marching band formations on my yellow notepads.  They were near and dear to me, but I needed more.  While I indulged in my yellow notepads there was an entire digital world waiting to be discovered.  I knew for my own sake if I was going to make the change I needed to let the yellow notepads go entirely and completely give myself over to the digital age... ...and I did just that.  Five years later with little regret, I continue to use digital devices to record my notes, drawings, lessons, and even sketches.  With opportunity came reward (yes I still have all my old yellow notepads, but just as keepsakes).

What's a Tweet?

Another digital opportunity that I recently took advantage of is Twitter.  I have always been an extreme skeptic of Twitter as the media often presents it as a way for celebrities to express themselves universally.  I didn't want that on my plate.  But now... ...I discover that with a positive attitude and an open-mind I am able to see the benefits of participating in a Twitter environment.  The endless amount of connections one can make opens doors and opportunities for a life time.  I have discovered that I have so much more to learn from other music educators, general educators, administrators and even students via Twitter.  In our digital connected society we do what we need to do to make a difference and connect.  Twitter has become a practical and profound resource in my professional development.  What's a Tweet?  An opportunity.  Who knows, some day we may even be able to get our news from Twitter.  (check out the link below from the Wall Street Journal)

Let's Share: Google Drive

"Hey Mr. Mangan.  Where's that file?"  One of my most constant forms of organization in my professional life is Google Drive.  Once a skeptic of security breach and intrusion by Google, I now find myself constantly developing new methods to better organize and share files.  I developed a method in which I can access anything I've ever wanted to reference in an endless pool of data through Google Drive.  The opportunity to have resources digitally and at my fingertips brought me to the realization that information equals value and I need to organize my value through a system.  The paper cuts and many hours of filing are over.  With a productive attitude and willingness to take advantage of a product I once found skeptical, I now find myself with the substance I need to be successful.

Meet Google Drive

I have found that my attitude limits my advances in opportunities in the digital age.  While skepticism is sometimes a necessary characteristic for survival.  I am finding more and more that attitude and a willingness to try often lead to success.


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