July 19, 2011

Division Through Digital Content

Minorities are learning that their digital footprints and digital
content can keep them from employment, educational
opportunities and military service. I have been blogging for
over 12 years and provided workshops and seminars in digital
content, but it seems many still do not understand what their
digital content is and how it can hurt them. Technology has
changed to where Smart Phones, Laptops, Pads and mini
computers are readily available to access digital environments.
Even in education teachers seem not aware that their content can
cost them their jobs and careers. Technology has opened up doors
that allow families to leave the “hoods” (neighborhoods) and
enter into virtual interactive environments. Social media tools
and social networks are used and visited by millions world-wide
and minorities have a solid digital footprint in the social uses of
technology; the concern is there needs to be more educational
and business uses than social interaction.
Educational Implications
The miniaturization and increased speed of the microprocessor,
lower cost, access to technology through schools, churches, and
public libraries has permitted increased minorities to enter into
the digital age. Entrance allows for access, but this access must go
beyond social access. Schools across this country have failing
students, failing parents and failing communities.  Access to
online resources provides knowledge and allows
enlightenment, education and empowerment there is beneficial
knowledge, but our students must be taught to value this knowledge
and how to use it digitally. The ability to virtually apply for jobs,
attend virtual educational opportunities, online or hybrid classes
has allowed minorities not to be left behind with educational access.
My concern as a public school teacher is why and how can parents
purchase gaming platforms such as the Wii, Xbox, Playstation
and other systems, but their children cannot read on grade level,
have been retained at least once and constantly do not show
academic growth.
Nationally minority students are failing and parents
are failing to teach their children to value education. The skills
in participating in social media sites are not consistant with
educational growth nor create skills for employment in fields of
technology. The youth may have the highest scores in
Grand Theft Auto, Madden 2011,defeat aliens in Halo or can mimic
the moves better than Michael Jackson in “Michael Jackson,
The Experience” (Wii), but how manycan create a PowerPoint
presentation, modify a Word document, send
an email attachment and write a blog with correct spelling,
grammar and literary comprehension?
Web 2.0 and 3.0
Social networking consists of many facets from Web 2.0
interactivity to the growing Web 3.0 intuitiveness of
technologies that “Think and Reason.”
The cloud phenomenon is a reality, not based on Star Trek
or Star Wars imagination and animation. There are growing
communities of people who share interests and these
have allowed
people of various shades of color to communicate globally; the
opportunities to participate in “mass communication and peer
collaboration” (Wikipedia 2.0, 2008) is now, but if we do not teach
our children beyond the social networks they will continue to
lose ground to other students  internationally. Our children will be
the ones in low paying jobs, unable to climb corporate, educational
or scientific career ladders because they do not have the necessary
skill-sets to properly compete.
The Right Tools
In academia the preferred tool is the brain;
reasoning, rationalization, comprehension, socialization and 
collaboration are all beneficial to cognitive growth and development.
Technology is a tool that allows for and encourages “higher
order” thinking skills. The danger for our youth is that they
are allowing technology to do too much of the thinking. In a past
visit to a fast food restaurant, the power went off and the cash
registers stopped working. The manager instructed the cashiers
to continue to work and use their brains to figure out the
exchange of transactions. Unfortunately several cashiers
stated that they did not know how to count out money and did
not know how to give out change. The dooming of our young people
is now; many can no longer count properly, comprehend nor
possess basic mathematical skills.
As any skilled craftsman/woman will tell you, use the right tool for
the job. The right tool for our youth is their minds, but they allow
themselves to be dummified relying on computers.
Proper Networking
"First Impressions can be Lasting Impressions"
Chi Chi Okezie
when involved in social networks be careful of your online
behaviors, that person you are chatting with, exchanging music,
sharing pictures, maybe a future client, business partner or even
future boss. Your online activity
has a credibility factor that can
be leveraged  for or against you. We must teach our youth just
because you have a picture or video of yourself at a “beasting
or crunk” party does not mean you share it with the world.

Networking is more than exchanging digits, astronomic signs,
restaurant preferences or even places to shop. Networking also
includes sharing resources, ideas, experiences, and lessons of
leadership. Using
Facebook, Brightfuse, LinkedIn, MySpace,
Ning’s, Blogspot, BlogTalk Radio or Twitter are great tools,
but must be applied and implemented  with a purpose and
Employers Wise to Social Media
Employers are involved in social networking; they are researching
your content, looking to see if potential employees have
questionable social patterns and lifestyles.
Mike Hargis of CareerBuilder.com,
“Twenty-two percent of employers say they use social
networking sites when evaluating job candidates”, this should
say to youth of today that  put pictures that attract attention
to them as being “sexy, down, gangsta, thugs, straight, gay, etc.”,
but may hurt their chances of employment, military service
or admission to higher educational institutions.  Danger is further felt for
those employed run the risk of being “let go” because of questionable
behavior online and content on their sites. M. Hargis “16 percent of
workers with social networking profiles have modified their pages
with potential employers in mind” (CareerBuilder.com 2009), this is
growing once people learn that their lives are“out in the public eye”.

Their site can be a hindrance or a help when seeking
employment or advancement in careers.  Social sites can be used to
highlight skills with technology, management of information and
finance, the ability to navigate web sites that build professionalism
and connectivity to the business world or your site can show
immaturity, lack of responsible behavior when
interacting with alcohol, drugs and relationships with the
same or opposite sex.
Cultural Implications
Valuable opinions have been made against BET, Basketball Wives
and other shows that depict women, men, children and cultures
a certain ways.  Judgment on ones culture and character may
seem invasive, but from a business perspective many businesses
are worried about their “reputations” in the business and social
community. Their employees outside activities or perceived
habits may reflect back on their work performance so businesses
may make a stance on certain behaviors or lifestyles, stated by
Kelly Vergara, Exe. Dir of Resource Interactive,
"We can learn a little about the candidate's culture fit and
professionalism, we screen for culture above all else, so this is
important”.  Inappropriate behaviors have caused the firing of
people in many career fields even in education. Controversial
information, such drinking or using drugs, inappropriate photographs,
video were the top reasons for dismissal (Careerbuilder.com 2008).
The media is shaping the worlds opinions about cultures, and opinions
shape actions, what are the future perceptions will the world have on
minorities and how will it shape their actions for and against difference
Digital Age
The age of digital information is an age of moving information
quickly, at the speed of thought. In the DVD “Business At The
Speed of Thought” (Bill Gates 2001);
Gates discusses that the life blood of business and networking
is information. The use of technology allows us to grow, mature,
and expand into other markets and learning opportunities. Social
networks, IT (information technology) creates a new business
and social resource where we will have virtual partnerships
that potentially can enhance communication and collaboration.

These formed and managed properly (we must continue to teach
the youth) can build wealth, power, prestige and expansion of
ideas or be the demise of a business career, educational goals
and military aspirations because of the lack of knowledge,
discipline and being net savvy.
In 2002 a software engineer created Friendster, the first social
network, in 2003, a young web developer improved the tools
offered by Friendster, adding the ability to earn money
through advertising and launched MySpace.
Today Facebook is the clear leader in acceptance and size
(for now). All these were developed to share content, make
money and changed the world in social interaction. What
benefits will minority students provide in the area of technology
in our country and world?
The growing area of STEM
(Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
are being taken over by international youth, are our
minority youth only able to
use these technologies in games and social media platforms?
Will they only be able to play and not create, parents you
have a responsiility to guide, teach and model for your
children, if not there will be no growth or success for
minority children.  Just "want to be" entertainers, rappers,
back dancers, comedians, athletes.  We need more
than that for our children and our culture.
William Jackson, M.Ed.

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