Digital education: living in a world that cannot be touched

The highest activity that a human being can achieve is learning to understand, because understanding is being free.

Baruch Spinoza

Surely most of us who were young in the 1980s would agree that the digital social space as we know it today was far beyond our imagination. Beyond science fiction books and movies, the use of computers in companies and government offices, the idea of ​​building our interpersonal relationships through a computer not only sounded crazy to us, but also cold and subhuman. Everything in our world could be touched, distances implied communication gaps, we were used to writing by hand and looking for books in the huge library files. We made friends in bars and cafeterias and talked on the phone for long hours, taking care that no one heard us on the other line in the house.

Those who preceded us will agree even more that the idea of ​​interacting in a virtual space was foreign to our humanity and psychosocial development. Touch and being in person was life, and in many ways it still is. However, almost all of us are also part of the digital world, we have an email, different social networks, we carry out procedures online, we have digital files where we keep our most precious photos and we communicate with distant friends and relatives through services video conferencing; processes that increased with the pandemic.

In many cases, migrating to the digital world has not been a conscious, planned decision based on mere desire, such as when planning a beautiful vacation to Cancun. The arrival of the digital world has imposed itself as a superior power, forcing us to participate in it and to build identities and non-geographical sites in order to exist. Older adults are pressured to carry out their procedures and manage money online, to create one or more accounts on social networks to interact with their loved ones and to consult their photos, of which they previously had huge albums, on a cell phone, tablet or computer. Although most of them have the support of people more familiar with technology, there are not a few who resist change and, although the old ways always coexist with the new, the truth is that the digital world, just like a huge magnet, it attracts us without being able to resist.

The new digital world has become a social space as valid as school, supermarkets or a football stadium. Interactions of all kinds occur: buying and selling of goods and services; education; people can make friends in every corner of the world or get a partner; it is played online; money is handled; You work in numerous areas that make it possible to be part of a transnational company, living in any country and having a device with an Internet connection; there is entertainment; participation is made at a political level and information is transmitted in record time. This list, which could well go on for thousands of lines, only allows us to get an idea of ​​how we have expanded our universe by creating a new one based on zeros and ones.

The real problem with this social space is that it has grown much faster than we expected, it is constantly changing and it tests our ability to adapt and learn. The changes are simultaneous and there is an innumerable amount of things that we don’t understand or don’t know, no matter if we are experts in computer engineering or telematics, because the virtual world stopped being a site for specific purposes a long time ago and covers all areas of social life such as science or politics, making it impossible for a single person to fully master all its implications.

Likewise, the digital education that most of the adults who are over the millennial generation have received has been intuitive and self-taught, but also transgressive, since we have adapted to technologies with which we were not born and we have had to generate constant analogies about the digital world starting from the analog universe. We nostalgically keep compact discs and letters from adolescence, while we decipher the keys of the intangible. Some of us have received digital education itself in educational centers, paying for courses or dabbling in online education; but regardless, constant learning is required to keep up.

The so-called Z and Alpha generations have on their side—and in this they surpass millennials—a natural adaptation to the digital world that comes from growing up and direct learning, from being born with a device in hand. Many of them can’t imagine a world where the camera, music player, word processor and phone come separately. They have a natural development of digital skills and in many ways, also generational, as they strengthen them collectively. They learn easily and tend to be self-taught, although they run the risk of focusing on entertainment activities and not knowing how to select information in the middle of the sea rather than browsing data.

And it is that digital education does not only imply knowing how to use devices, navigate web pages, create content on social networks or access sufficient data for school tasks. A true digital education imposes the need for critical thinking and the selection of information; of skills that allow finding quality information and distinguishing it from that which is not. The issue of our time is not censorship, since the freedom of information is almost infinite and that which is restricted usually finds the channels to spread; the problem is much more subtle: what do we do with that information, how do we use it responsibly, what skills do we have to clarify the reliability of sources or check versions. Digital education is knowing that, although the sea is infinite, not all fish are edible.

Part of digital education involves knowing how to protect yourself from threats, filtering the information we want to share, keeping sensitive data safe, not relating to suspicious or unknown accounts, avoiding visiting dangerous sites, knowing how to report threats and attacks and always, but always , respect to others. There are not enough laws that regulate the digital space, especially due to its international nature, but at least the most used Web 2.0 platforms have protocols that can keep us safe and act in case our integrity is at risk.

In this case, as in many others, digital education in our time requires initiative. We have to look for information on our own, learn to do everything we don’t know, just like we look for a recipe on the internet, we can investigate how to make our profiles more secure, how to use the word processor effectively or use design and creation tools. videos. The great miracle of the internet is that education is not restricted and that interconnectivity makes it possible for distances not to get in the way. But we must admit that it is our own choice, because, even if the tree puts the apples, we have to take them to be able to eat. Digital education means sharing knowledge and being willing to seek it.


And in times of musical riots let’s remember other more subtle ones, but just as fun, like those launched by Góngora and Quevedo. The cruel and rascal Quevedo wrote to Don Luis:


I will spread my works with bacon

Why don’t you bite me, Gongorilla,

dog of the wits of Castilla,

learned in taunts, which young man on the way;

barely a man, Indian priest,

that you learned the primer without Christ;

carrero from Córdoba and Seville,

and in court jester to the divine.

Why do you censor the Greek language

being only rabbi of the Jewess,

thing that your nose still does not deny it?

Don’t write verses anymore, for my life;

Although these scribes stick to you,

for having rebellion as a sayon.

narcissus the obscene

For those who believe that it is an obligation to be loved. Those who went like this from the cradle to the grave forever and ever and lived without knowing it. @mundiario

Digital education: living in a world that cannot be touched