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Digital legacy—Write your own future

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We know the story.

A snarky comment or angry post suddenly blows up. Someone grabs a screenshot and shares it to friends. Soon it is all over cyberspace for everyone to see—including parents, future employers or colleges. And with all of those reposts and retweets, it is everywhere on the Internet, making it almost impossible to undo.

But, we can also do amazing things with technology. With the click of a mouse or a single keystroke, we can share our thoughts and actions with the world; we can create; we can research and explore. Technology opens our lives to endless possibilities.

The choice of how we use technology is entirely up to us.

That was guest speaker Kevin Honeycutt’s message to Jarvis Middle School and CVA students on Friday, Oct. 23.

As an art teacher in Kansas for 11 years, Mr. Honeycutt discovered the positive power of technology. For the last 13 years, he has traveled the world, sharing what he learned—and continues to learn—with teachers and students.

“The best assembly we’ve ever had.”

Schools are always looking for a speaker whose message resonates with the audience. Gimmicks, multimedia presentations, shock-and-awe tales are so common that students have become callous to the message (even important messages).

Step in Kevin Honeycutt.

Mr. Honeycutt’s down-to earth delivery, personal stories and real-life examples connected with the students in the CVA auditorium. He acknowledged the downside of technology such as wasted time gaming and scouring social media or cyberbullying. His focus, however, was the unlimited power of the Internet to empower ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Photo of Mr. Honeycutt and a student

Kevin Honeycutt demonstrates technology’s ability to blend a live guitar with a digital drumset on an iPad.

His rapid-fire presentation was dizzying, giving minds little time to wander. More powerful was his ability to speak about more serious topics without asking for pity or adding to his audience’s personal burdens. He spoke candidly of midnight runs, the numerous time his family family fled in the night when his father had a run-in with the law. He talked about bullying, damaged reputations and poor choices without leaving anyone feeling condemned. Instead, he turned every topic back to technology and how it can can turn our biggest weaknesses and struggles into strengths.

“Central Valley has committed to technology,” said Superintendent Rich Hughes.

“Our hope was that Kevin could help our students become excited about the possibilities of these new tools. We knew he had been successful when a young lady announced at the end of the presentation, ‘This is the best assembly we’ve ever had!'”

Takeaways

It’s impossible to capture the impact of Mr. Honeycutt’s presentation, but here are some highlights:

  • In the past, we had no record of our behavior. Today, the Internet catalogs our behavior, despite our attempts to remove our unpleasant mistakes.
  • Selfies are self-representation. The photos we post and the comments we make show the world what we really stand for—good and bad.
  • We can monitor our online reputations with tools such as Google Alerts, which scours the Internet looking for specific words. Simple go to the Google Alerts page and type in your name in quotation marks (ex. “Bill Smith”). Google will notify you via email when your name turns up on the Internet. This also works for good stuff such as looking for “life changing ideas,” “new inventions,” etc.
  • We have all made mistakes. The goal is “no new sins, no new mistakes.”
  • Where we go with technology is up to us. What will we do with our smart phone, iPad or computer?
  • The goal with technology is to learn to use it as a tool, not a toy. Spend your time fishing for ideas and opportunities rather than just playing games or chasing social media.
  • Free software such as SketchUp can help students turn ideas into 3D designs and Shapeways can help turn those ideas into marketable products.
  • Lulu.com enables writers to publish; Youtube lets speakers and videographers share their work; SoundCloud let musicians share their creations across the web and social media.

Mr. Honeycutt shared the story of his own son who decided to help fund a school in Nepal as a senior project. He raised more than $2,000 online which the school used to purchase two new computers and Internet service. The effort snowballed into more fundraising that funded a new school building and a library. The experience convinced his son to pursue a career serving others as a teacher in underprivileged schools.

That same opportunity is available to everyone. Whether pursuing a career or looking for a chance to positively express yourself, you need to step out.

“You have to be brave. Just share what you have done,” he said.