Embrace the Torrent: 9 Ways to Become A #DigitalNomad

A colleague, upon listening to a presentation by another Twitter Illuminati, said sarcastically, and perhaps unfairly, "Spare me another presentation on how twitter has changed his life." I promptly ignored him and tuned in to what Dean Shareski was saying...sometimes, even when you know the destination, the experience of getting there can be fun.
Source: Egyptian Nomad . I love this nomad picture. Now, imagine this person at the center of
connections made possible by social media. Awesome to imagine!
And, isn't that what learning today is about? A collection of hyper-connected experiences that help deepen and widen our understanding of our own learning? This blog entry explores how you can embrace the torrent of learning, offering 9 ways to become a digital nomad.

Over at A Principal's Reflections, Eric S makes the following assertion in his blog entry, The Limits of Being a Disconnected Nomad:
Being a disconnected nomad limited my ability to lead and learn.  We fear what we don't know or understand.  When this happens we make excuses not to do something and in education we resort to blocking, banning, or pretending something doesn't exist.  This is how I saw social media and mobile technology back in 2009. The problem is that the majority of educators in 2014 still feel this way.  The epiphany for me was that I saw a professional opportunity in Twitter to improve communications with my stakeholders. From here I began to lurk and learn, which resulted in no longer being a disconnected nomad.
Eric's then elaborates on how his epiphany has had a transformative effect on his work, cautioning others to overcome their fears. The connection to the term "nomad," though, captured my attention.

Nomads have a romantic image, don't they? They travel from location to location, picking up ideas, surviving desert sandstorms and cultivating self-reliant attitudes and practices. But nomads are no longer isolated, if they ever were.

Let's rethink this idea of nomads as being disconnected, and more interconnected. How would that fundamentally change things? I've included my description of digital nomads, as I play with the idea, as well as how to get there.

  1. Digital nomads are interconnected, unbound by educational territories such as schools and districts, connecting the local to the global.
    How To: Don't let your current organization's approaches and curriculum limit you. Grow global, share local.
  2. Digital nomads migrate from Twitter chat to Google Hangout to Facebook Group to online conferences, seeking pastures of the mind for wildly rampaging neuron herds.
    How To: Find common ground where others are, pursuing the ideas and learning rather than sticking with one technology over another (e.g. Twitter, not Facebook). 
  3. Digital nomads have a rich culture and heritage that rely on face to face AND online relationships cultivated over time.
    How To: Lurk on social media, respond to other's questions, pose your own questions (and answer them if you wish to be self-reliant and learning something worth sharing--your own journey).
  4. Digital nomads have spatial awareness of the digital paths and byways they travel, and can act on that awareness to enhance to growth of those they nurture.
    How To: Map the digital pathways your learning has travelled, sharing that with others. "I learned this on Twitter from +David Warlick and then shared it via Google + with @wfryer.
  5. Digital nomads, over time, are state-less, transnational, potentially considered terrorists in some systems (e.g. those that ban the use of social media to connect, collaborate) and welcome friends and teachers in others.
    How To: Don't be afraid to reference technologies and good uses others have put them to in places where they are banned. The focus is on the benefits, not the foolish, albeit real, fear.
  6. Digital nomads can never be refugees because they remain connected to the culture, geo-spatial networks that nurture them.
    How To: No matter where you go, stay connected with your learning networks, adding new nodes every day, mapping new watering holes to find nourishment. While one oasis may go dry, another wellspring may be unearthed.
  7. Digital nomads believe in scattering their learning widely across disparate systems in what some may see as redundant fashion, relying on no one system or structure because it may be unavailable in the future. 
    How To: Don't imagine the manifestation of your learning as existing in one place, but rather, allow it grow wherever it may find roots, like seeds cast upon the wind.
  8. Digital nomads embrace encryption and security, not because they fear transparency, but because there can be no transparency without privacy.
    How To: Without privacy, there can be no transparency. It is from the security of my privacy that I can allow what I share to be transparently available for others. Make the effort to secure your privacy with encryption.
  9. Digital nomads take no one person as their teacher or mentor, but rather, recognize that the accumulation of eclectic experiences grounded in learning conversations support growth.
    How To: While you may wish to claim one teacher as your primary source, avoid that. Instead, realize that the rain nourishes all, even though it is but a single droplet on a grain of sand. Embrace the torrent.
I definitely see myself as a digital nomad, a person who can find himself at home with any technology and, transcending learning. Eric writes the following:
There still are too many disconnected nomads leading schools and teaching our students who have yet to experience the unlimited potential that connectivity offers.

Come on...become a digital nomad. Share your reflections on this blog post by using the hashtag #digitalnomad

Doug "Blue Skunk" Johnson, Digital Nomad

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Anonymous said…
A wonderful metaphor and precise imagery. Very enjoyable... from a fellow Bedouin.

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