Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Digital Revolution … Why the Gifted Community Should Be Leading the Way

The digital revolution has been going on for over a decade. Experiencing it first hand, I have been preaching the value of social media (see here and here for starters) in the gifted community since I began this blog in March of 2010.

I live in Pittsburgh, PA. I work with the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented to facilitate communication with vital stakeholders in the gifted community via Global #gtchat on Twitter. My readers here now encompass over 100 countries. My ‘inner circle’ is global.

I began this post in the passenger seat of my car. By its end, I will have used my smartphone, my laptop, a computer, and a printer. I will have searched with Google for information and images;   connected with colleagues via Yahoo mail, gmail and LinkedIn; found inspiration on Twitter; and read articles saved in my dropbox. I am connected 24/7/365. My life experiences enhance my writing and my work online enhances my life.

So … I think it’s about time that the gifted community embraces technology and social media. It needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask why it has taken so long. Dare I say … we should be leading the revolution?

Too often, I hear complaints about how society misunderstands those identified as gifted; or worse yet ~ ignores them. “How do we get the word out?” “Why do politicians fail to recognize the needs of our children?” “Why aren’t there any courses dealing with gifted education being offered to pre-service teachers?” Why ... why …why? Let’s stop the whining and get the word out on social networks! It’s time to stop ‘preaching to the choir’.

Would you like to know what I really think? If not, click that little “x” on the upper right hand corner of your screen, because I’m going to tell you what I think. The world is facing a time of unprecedented financial crisis that has the potential to continue for years. The gifted community and the organizations that serve it are not immune to financial woes. However, how we respond to the crisis is of upmost importance. Social media provides us with the means to spread our message without straining budgets.

Want the world to take notice and support our community? Lead by example! It’s time to put on our ‘critical’ thinking caps … to provide the answer to that age-old question, “If you’re so smart, why don’t you ______?”

Well, for starters, we need to create rich resources of great information; reach out to more stakeholders … in this case, parents … cultivate relationships and extend the conversation with like-minded groups; engage the outliers! It’s time to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. It must be done in such a way as to be economically feasible for all involved.

Some practical solutions would be for conference organizers to realize that not everyone who would benefit from the conference will be able to attend in person. Providing low cost alternatives such as continuous Twitter-feeds of sessions and videos of the proceedings after the conference for a small fee will engage thousands more and provide additional revenue to cover conference costs. Parent groups should consider using Skype to reduce the cost of bringing in presenters to their meetings. State, national, and international organizations should cooperate to share resources online and provide a wider range of content for their members. The possibilities are endless.

Will we be leaders or followers? Game-changers or complainers? Dreamers or doers? It has never been easier to collaborate within the global gifted community. Get involved and make a difference. Be a leader in the digital revolution!