The Next Step


I’ve come a long way since first writing “The Plan” in January 2011. In that blog post, I challenged myself to look ahead and think where I would be in the years ahead. Asking, “what are my goals?”, “how will I get there?”, and “what will hold me accountable.” Looking back at that blog post, I can say that I now know a lot more about myself and how I’ve grown since then. What did I learn? Well, I missed pretty much every target I set for myself over 6 years ago, so you do the math.

Why did miss those targets? Well, because things change. People change. The world changes. And adapting is what makes us – in the end – successful, or not.

What’s characteristic about that blog post is how dedicated I am to the path of becoming a journalist or writer. In fact, it’s evident, even to this day as I carried that tradition on to this blog. However, since 2014, I have set myself on to a different path entirely and it’s a complete 180 from the humanities based education of my college years.

For the past two-and-some-change years, I’ve been a technical support agent for the most wonderful marketing automation platform in Atlanta. I’ve learn SO much and I can’t begin to explain how valuable this experience has been to me. That said, this path was no where on my radar at the time I sat down 6 years ago to set in ink – or digital binary, if you wanna be picky – the course I would take in a perfect would.

So what was the big lesson? Plan to change plans.

It’s now time to formulate my next steps. The next iteration in “The Plan”. And I think I should draw on the lessons I learned about in my previous attempt. Moving forward, this lesson of adaptability is vital as I flatten out the multidimensionality of chance into the sober prediction I’ll refer to as “the next step”.

If I had to say whether I was ‘successful’ based on my previous predictions, I would say that I didn’t do half bad. After all, I did end up “working” (see: interning) for Creative Loafing. And I did some… stuff with my college newspaper. But, one thing I never saw coming was falling in love with podcasting – not writing – which you can argue I do a lot more of in my spare time now. And I never saw myself in a more technical role than, possibly, an Editor referencing AP Handbooks. I never accounted for chance or – or even life – to play a part. And, boy, did life throw me some curve balls.

So, what will I not see coming next?

I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking on and off about how I would approach this next tier – the next S curve – of my professional development and here’s what I’ve come away with:

  • Keep learning things
  • Do cool shit
  • Don’t give up

I’m hoping my next 5-ish years will abide by those simple axioms and guide me to where I want to be. Which brings me to the specifics.

Where do I want be?

I have some very specific milestones I want to hit in order to pursue a path of data science and in my next blog post, I’m going to outline precisely what those are, along with the challenges I face, and how I want to approach them. For the next 6 to 12 months, I think I can predict with a fair amount of accuracy how that will go – after that, it’s anyone’s guess. However, the goal of this next step is to build a skill. Then use that skill. And have confidence that it’ll all work out.

Here’s to the rest of life!


Master and Commander Scholarship App


I wrote a letter to Olan Rogers for his scholarship. I didn’t win, but I’m sure the right person did:

“Dear Olan,

I am 23.

I am also a Crohn’s sufferer and I’ve had surgery twice in the past 14 months. I’m writing this because a foot of intestines ago, I was pretty much only able to watch Olan Rogers videos. Ghosts in the Stalls had never been more appropriate.

I have no clue how this disease will affect my life. As much as I’d like to say that this scholarship should be based on merit, I know that isn’t true in my case. I’ve had to drop out of school and after re-enrolling I need extensions on all my work because I’m always in the hospital or so disoriented I can’t think straight.

Through all the suffering, though, I had an amazing experience that has made me who I am today. I met a beautiful young secondary education major in between my first surgery in October 2012 and my second surgery in July 2013. She’s the most important person in my life. I remember trying to hold back the tears the first time we talked about Crohn’s. We didn’t just talk about the general “1 in 200 people have it” talk, or the “it’s IBD not IBS, there’s a difference” talk. I’m talking about the steroid-induced mood swing sob fest, I don’t want my children to have this, talk. The “will I live or die?” talk. Crohn’s isn’t a life threatening disease most of the time, but it’s still a chronic disease that’s debilitating, and when I met Brittany, she knew exactly what she was getting into.

She’s become my caregiver. She runs a cold sponge over my lips in the hospital. She  drives an hour to and from the hospital around her class schedule and still pays full price for overnight parking just to clean up after me in the hospital. She’s a saint for simply living and breathing in the noxious fumes my upset stomach sometimes always produces. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me. And it’s funny, she says that I am her “rock.” Well if I’m her rock, she’s my Stone Mountain.

Well, now that I’ve sufficiently bummed you out, I will end my application with a little encouraging Ben Franklin maxim I tell myself from time to time, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.” Right now, I’m not really able to do much of anything, but I can certainly write. And write I shall.”

Olan is a big goof and I’ll never forget watching him tell stories and be the amazing person he is while I couldn’t do much more then that. Thanks Olan.


Little Five Points Poet


I do poetry hopefully to touch other people as well as to share a talent,” said Craig, “you never know whose going to jump from that bridge who needs that little bit of inspiration to find a reason to continue to live.


The psychotherapist used to tell him that he could write down his feelings into poetry. After living in an abusive and neglectful household for 18 years, Craig Hickerson had enough emotional ammunition to write Leaves of Grass, but it wasn’t until he met Nikki Giovanni and the impression she made on his poesy that warranted his poetry as less emotional doting and more of a high art.

That meeting occurred in a special assembly taken place at Friendly High School in Fort Washington, Maryland. Craig was the only Junior in the all Senior auditorium. He had been held back, but the Art Director ushered him in with a certain agency that only an Art Director could for a special poetry reading such as this. Unfortunately, Craig’s former class, the class of 1996, didn’t have the slightest idea who Giovanni was.

Craig knew.

After several empty threats to hold back seniors another year had failed to hush the crowd, Craig volunteered to read his own poetry first; a sacrifice for the literary giant.

Expecting a barrage of heckles and cat calls, Craig crept toward the stage where Giovanni sat. To Craig’s surprise, shushes and elbow nudges infected the crowd as Craig stepped up to the microphone. He pulled out a folded up poem in his pocket he had written and delivered a performance that Giovanni would later rave about. His classmates were stunned and so was Giovanni. Craig wasn’t the martyr that evening, he was the maven.

It’s hard to believe that this part of Craig’s life didn’t influence who he is today, since he is still reciting poetry, but it isn’t necessarily for his peers or literary scholars like Giovanni. Today, Craig wakes up every morning underneath a bridge in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta, stands in front of the commercial shops and businesses and freestyles his poetry for tips.

Craig moved from Fort Washington, Maryland to Atlanta, Georgia and began printing and selling his poetry in 2002 for $3 in Woodruff Park until he was introduced to freestyle poetry. Business was slow one day, Craig said, when a woman approached Craig with a proposition. She was a fan of the movie, “Before Sunrise,” wherein a poet on the streets asks for a random word for which he develops a poem around, so she queried Craig whether he could do the same. She even stopped some passersby and introduced them to Craig. Craig took the challenge and excelled.

That day Craig said he made over $250 dollars – $200 of which came from the woman that asked Craig to freestyle his poetry. She inspired Craig to scrap his written verse for oral presentation.

“I do poetry hopefully to touch other people as well as to share a talent,” said Craig, “you never know whose going to jump from that bridge who needs that little bit of inspiration to find a reason to continue to live.”

And Craig is talented.

His poems slide off the tongue with a lyrical quality that carries the tone and melody of song, but close enough in meter to resemble written verse. Craig’s unique bardic style paces along with the canter of each stressed and unstressed foot as he walks his listeners through each extemporaneous line. The gait of his delivery is only matched by his wit for puns and his wry social commentary. His topics often cover spirituality, poverty, the struggle, flowers, sex, politics, religion, and he has a strong penchant to use the phrase, “the heartbeats render,” which persists in all of his poetry, sometimes appearing twice or three times in one stanza. It’s his trademarked go-to line.

A quick Youtube search of “little five points poet” or any such version would lead you to find dozens of impromptu freestyles of Craig’s, some of which the videographers explicitly admit to paying nothing and explain Craig’s methods as a hustle. Some videos are shot by companies such as Honest Tea producing shoe-string budget local web videos or some even shot as entries in contests for big websites like Vimeo. A little bit of investigative reporting, though, exposed some mixed emotions involving Craig’s efforts on the streets.

Two employees in Criminal Records, a well respected business and record store in the community, had harsh words and criticisms for Craig, citing his poetry as paltry solicitations and even accused Craig of verbal harassment. On the other hand, I witnessed first-hand the respect and friendship Craig has gained with other businesses in the area like Arden’s Garden, another well respected business and smoothie shop. Employees at Arden’s Garden knew Craig by name and happily offered him left over smoothies on the house.

One would have no doubt of the impact Craig has had on the community if shown the special mural painted in the likes of Craig’s portrait with the words, “Little Five Points Poet” surrounding the piece. The mural is infused with streaks of purple and pink, blue and green, highlighting the deep dark cracks and folds in his skin. Craig said the mural was done by a Chicago artist who was looking for inspiration and the artists found it in Craig’s poems.

“I’m doing this to help other people, not just myself even though I do get tips for it. It’s not like I’m trying to get rich. I’m just trying to get to a place where I’m comfortable, but hopefully I can help other people get comfortable,” said Craig.

Possibly the most fascinating part of Craig Hickerson, the Little Five Poetry Guy, is the altruistic nature of Craig’s efforts as a poet. Craig said that he likes to help people. But, what does a man pushing poems on the street have to give? Well, Craig believes that his words can be transformative and enlightening. Craig believes that his gift of poetry must be shared with as many people as he can and this experience has lead him to believe that he has a higher calling. He has expressed an interest in building a non-for-profit to “just help people.” He doesn’t necessarily know how or when that will be, but right now his words are his mortar and the building blocks that he needs to reach out to people are his poems. He is building the foundation that will one day bring him closer to those in need and satisfy his need to help those.

Craig believes so highly in the power of words and storytelling that even after I couldn’t pay for his lunch, he said that I didn’t owe him anything; my words were more valuable than anything else.

Macklemore: a Hip Hop review?


Lifestyle Choices

“Look at me, look at me, I’m a cool kid 
I’m an individual, yea, but I’m part of a movement
My movement told me be a consumer and I consumed it
They told me to just do it, I listened to what that swoosh said” – 
Macklemore, Wings

First worn in 1995 and retired in 2000 the Air Jordan 11’s, aka Air Jordan Space Jams, were re-released on December 23, 2011 for only $180. Only $180. This was somewhat of big deal in the sneaker world – don’t ask me – I’m not a sneaker head nor do I play a lot of basketball. Guessing by the frenzy this caused, I’ve been lead to believe that the typical Air Jordan fan is not only passionate, but borderline psychopathic. Sneakerheads around the globe celebrated the joyous occasion of the Space Jam’s re-release withstabbings, gunfire and near riots. A woman in Lithonia, GA was even arrested for locking her two toddlers in her SUV while she stood in line. You might be asking yourself, why does this belong in a hip hop review? Well, that’s best explained in the words of the spoken-word-acapella-turned-movie, Wings, by Seattle based rapper, Macklemore…


Macklemore is more than familiar with the pitfalls of the consumer lifestyle because he experienced firsthand how an expensive pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers is not just a pair of shoes, but an unmistakable identity that can leave a mark on any unsuspecting youth. Macklemore, says, “we are what we wear” meaning there’s a struggle, as a consumer based society, between our identities and the commodities we consume. The dichotomy of lifestyle and our lifestyle choices is a lesson Macklemore has schooled me on.

Several weeks ago, I bought two tickets to go see Macklemore and his DJ/producer, Ryan Lewis, perform at the Drunken Unicorn, but sadly, I never got to see him play. The problem was I ordered the tickets too far in advance and I had the tickets mailed to my house not knowing the concert was going to take place the weekend before finals. I should have double checked, but I was just too excited  – Macklemore was coming to Atlanta! After finals week, my hasty impulse buy left me with nothing but some exam anxiety and two useless tickets to Macklemore. You see, instead of just being content as a fan, I rushed to purchase the tickets weeks in advance to prove what a loyal fan I was. In actuality, I managed to prove that I can’t appreciate the music (the commodity) before I put myself first as a person. This is a lesson I learned through the creative words and images of Macklemore’s.

A Different Breed

Macklemore is part of the slowly ebbing flow of talent coming out of Seattle like the Blue Scholars, Common Market, and Jack One, yet what sets Macklemore apart comes from his brilliant music videos. The first Macklemore video I saw was Wings. Before the music video was made for the song, though, the song wasn’t even produced yet. In fact, it was a Spoken Word piece. In 2008, Zia Mohajerjasbi, the director of Wings, attended a show where Macklemore performed the acapella to Wings and Zia approached Macklemore with the idea that, if Wings were ever to become a song, he would want to direct the video – so, to make things even more complicated – the song was a video before the song was an actual song! Well, unfortunately, they had a great artistic vision, but not enough money and resources to make the video, (as is the case with most of the arts, but I digress) so they started a fundraising campaign using Kickstarter, a do-it-yourself fundraising platform, and got 423 backers and almost double what they needed to fund the project, $18,269. The memoir style reflections of Macklemore’s past as a sneaker-head came to life brilliantly in the end, with Ryan Lewis’ almost film score-esque production with the beats, the stunning cinematography by Zia and the sincere lyrical confessions of Macklemore. The music video was one of the best I saw last year, and there was some pretty unique videos in 2011, like the video for Tyler the Creator’s, Yonkers.

Unlike the absurdity of Tyler the Creators video, which he directed himself by the way, Wings is rooted in narrative. As the video begins, Macklemore silently steps onto an empty basketball court seemingly familiar to Macklemore, but simultaneously in an unfamiliar time. As Macklemore bows his head in introspection, the court seems like a place of worship. More than just a recreational facility, it was sacred, divine. Soon, it becomes clear that this hallowed place is a frame for which to follow the Tarantino-esque plot device back into Macklemore’s past as he reflects on his childhood and growing up beginning with the first lyric “It all started when I was seven years old.” Suddenly the listener is flashed back to little Macklemore trying to dunk with his brand new Air Jordan’s, playing pick-up games in the rain, and walking around school. This is to show how a sneaker became Macklemore’s identity. Beyond Macklemore’s messages of consumerism, the director is also able to relay his own visual patterns that create a message, which is not very common in music videos, especially hip hop ones. As the video continues, Macklemore stands in front of a group of teenagers on a bus and on a stoop with a large red book in his hands which is an allusion to a famous Nike commercial with Spike Lee, director of Do the Right Thing. Director Zia Mohajerjasbi also adds to the narrative as he shows the little Macklemore walking home from school, bereft, with no shoes on. Someone had stolen his. The striking video ends with Macklemore saying “consumption is in the vain… it’s just another pair of shoes” and little Macklemore suits up a brand new pair.

To you, this may be another review of a “conscious rapper”, but to me this is way more than just rap – Macklemore is a different breed of rapper. Not like the Lil’ Wayne, “I’m an Alien” type of different. I mean, he is cut from a different cloth. He understands and acknowledges what most hip hop can’t; he knows that most rappers underestimate the influence that rap has on children and he knows that most consumers of hip-hop are young white males; he understands that he was a product of the hip hop culture, not the other way around; he owes his allegiance to hip hop and he knows what white privilege is; he can even make an Irish Celebration anthem from a hip-hop song, or a Dance anthem in the style of an 80’s David Bowie song. He is a sage and a bard in hip hop and if you are a hip hop fan, you have got to check him out. He may even appear on XXL Mag’s Freshman list for 2011, so be expecting Macklemore in 2012. (Josh Pate)


Counterpoint 2012

There’s not many pictures to share because right around 3 the Great Hurricane of Counterpoint 2012 hit and I decided to leave all technology in the wagon. I was only able to afford the one day ticket, so these were shot on Friday the 28th, beginning with Counterpoint taking a page out of Michael Crichton’s book (you know, the one with the Dinosaurs).
Counterpoint doing it’s Jurassic Park thing.

Heroes x Villains killing it at 2 in the afternoon. Crazy.

There was live art and I so wanted to get a picture of Greg Mike’s piece, but due to the weather that wasn’t happening. I’ll tell you this much, it had a large squirrel with dear antlers being ridden by the Greg Mike’s trademarked blue martian. So, instead I will leave you with this video of Greg Mike painting a mural in Little Five Points, GA.



Laurel Falken is my hero.


Extra! Extra! Read all about it, “Josh is Better!”

I got a letter in the mail the other day from my dear aunt Lolly and my jaw literally dropped when I opened it up. As my fingers traced the borders of the cardboard paper I realized that every piece of the card, even the cardboard template, was arranged, cut, and pasted by hand. To get a hand-written letter is a thoughtful gesture, but to get an entire postcard production worthy of praise by Hallmark, the greeting card gods themselves – or at least the poor shlub whose played by Joseph Gorden Levitt in (500) Days of Summer – is some next level “get well” snail mail creativity. Elegant. Monochromatic. Timeless.

Feast your eyes…

The Hallmark Highlights

  • Handwritten everything.
  • Scrapbook stylin’.
  • Pizza and baseball gummy stickers
  • Priceless advice: fatten up.
  • Stamp of approval. Permission to be awesome, Aunt Lolly.
  • -“Josh is Better” headline on the paper in the paperboy’s hands. Excellent.

Aunt Lolly’s excellent card is only the last in the list of amazing things I’ve had the privilege to do with her. I mean, we saw the orchestra at NYU play a mean Raphsody in Blue by Gershwin. The pianist went ham. Ha ha. Anyway, I will finalize this post with the classically trained pianist Alfredo Rodriguez’s “Crossing the Border,” an amazing artist that will be performing at for the Premiere Series in the Bailey Performance Center at Kennesaw State University, in honor of Laurel and her amazing talents on the keys. Listen until at least the 3 minute mark. Trust me, it’s worth it.

If you want to know more about Rodriguez, stay tuned to this page to hear more.


Lupe Fiasco – Bitch Bad


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In response to a CL music writer’s criticism of hip-hop’s hero Lupe Fiasco, I left this comment. I’ve cleaned it up a little to reflect my meaning more clearly and to improve the grammar. CL doesn’t allow for the chance to edit comments :/

Read: Lupe Fiasco and the arrogance of the self-righteous rapper

For more context, read Brandon Soderberg’s response to video to Bitch Bad, railing it’s incorrect use of euphemisms and alleged lack of substantial political discourse.

It’s art, yes, but it’s also a political statement. Defending art criticism doesn’t explain how one can deny the political impact Lupe hopes to have by simply comparing an artistic audience with a political one. Apples to oranges.

Although his political audience doesn’t seem to have the same opinions about the video as the song, I don’t like how you attack the artist for expressing his sincere sentiment that is well suited for the hip hop radio platform, the main stage of where his political discourse takes place. He’s also pioneering a vision of hip hop for the mainstream, which is hardly reserved for a rapper with a political agenda. His political efficacy is really measured by the nature of his authority, and if it is your claim to debase the evidence that warrants the support for his art just so you can cross ‘criticism of a political hip hop artist’ off your list makes you a selfish critic.

I think that since Lupe’s song belongs both hip hop and equal rights blogs, criticisms are inevitably going to be tossed his way without consideration to the larger impact he could make in either of those domains. He is one person and he is able to say so much with so little – and that is not just my personal opinion – hence the name of the song.


Music for the Soul

Music for the Soul: Delta Rae


Reynolds Price once said that we can survive without some of the most basic things such as love, shelter, or food and water for at least a little while – but we can not survive without telling stories. There are talented artists that have not gotten the chance to share their stories, but in the case of the young men and women in Delta Rae, their talent is giving them the opportunity to do just that. Ian Holljes who apprenticed under Price, managed to pull a group together to develop a musical project called Delta Rae a 6 piece Alt-Pop group. Delta Rae was named after a classically influenced novel about a southern girl who summons a Greek God, so the Greek Pantheon and literature is as integrated into Delta Rae as the time signature on their sheet music or the pitch of their instruments. The connection to such humanistic qualities suggests that Delta Rae is not any ordinary group of harmonizers. In the Greek fashion, they are a group brought together by the forces of the Muse.

A note on “The Muse”: The idea that ‘the muse’ is the source for creative inspiration has been around since before the Hellenic period. Plato’s myth about the cicada says when the Muses were born, men never stopped singing, not even to eat or drink. Eventually, they sang until their deaths, but from them, the tribe of locusts arose. Being granted a gift from the muses, the locusts were able to sing continually without the need of food, water, or basic sustenance on one condition – they were to report back to the Muses who honored them the most.

Plato’s myth is grounded in the long standing belief that the muse and human being are firmly tied together in creative indulgences. Indeed, the muse has had an impact on our society and can be explicitly seen, for example, in the etymology of the everyday words “music”, “museum”, or “mosaic.” Though, in Greek, music means a lot more than it does in English. In Plato’s Dialouge of Phaedo, Plato represents music as anything that relates to the mind. Plato puts a premium on the the intellectual worth of music by arguing that education should begin with “music for the soul.” Not only that, Plato claims that “music ought to end in the love of the beautiful,” and Delta Rae’s muse has an affinity for this abstract conscientiousness.

Delta Rae is composed of three siblings and three close friends. Ian Holljes, Eric Holljes, and Brittany Holljes moved from Cobb County, Georgia in 1996 to San Rafael, California where they met Elizabeth Hopkins as grade school students. As a sophomore in high school, Brittany decided to fast track to Berkely and while her brothers got their high school diploma’s she graduated Berkely at 19. In 2003, the Holljes brothers moved to Durham, North Carolina to attend Duke University where they began campus band, “Running Lights.” By the time of their graduation in 2007, Eric had met and begun writing with Mike Posner, which resulted in the song “Cooler than Me” being written, Posner’s 2010 #6 Billboard and double Platinum record. Ian, though, was the driving force and inspiration to get a practicing band started.

As the last of a total 25 caretakers, Ian apprenticed under terminally ill Pulitzer Prize Nominee, Reynolds Price who was treated for a malignant spinal tumor with radiation therapy which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Ian looked after Price in exchange for his own space and time to write alone, which is when Ian began writing songs. Ian saved enough money from his fellowship with Price to buy a house out in the secluded woods of North Carolina with his two other siblings and close friend Elizabeth, where they could live together and make music at all times of the night and day.

In September of 2009, Delta Rae played their first rehearsal in the secluded woods of North Carolina. Less than a year later their first EP was release. Mike Mckee and Grant Emerson added a rhythm section to the 4 part vocal ensemble shortly after. Then, in a two month period, the band was able to raise 28,000 dollars to produce their first full length album through an online fundraising campaign via Kickstarter. Soon thereafter, the band went on the road and even stopped by my home city Atlanta for Project 99x: Unplugged in the Park at the Park Tavern with Carbon Leaf.

The muses have bonded Delta Rae together – allowing the members to grow organically. Cultivated for no one genre, pulled together from across the country and planted in one house in the smoky hills of North Carolina, the grassroots efforts of Delta Rae has yielded a genuine sense of intimacy with their fans. Spreading like pollen from a dogwood, the group is traveling across the country and even performing on quaint national talk radio shows. Reaching deeper and deeper for the seed that will grow into a reckoning musical force, nurturing the ebbing bud of their skill, they’ve shown a quite a bit of range, so far. Delta Rae’s four vocalists Ian, Eric, Brittany and Elizabeth can harmonize in any fashion: as a group, solo, all at once or none at all – so expansive they even act as the percussion sometimes. Delta Rae has captured audiences with a religious gospel, “Down by the River”, to a cover of Kanye West’s, “All of the Lights.” The season is coming for Delta Rae’s crop of music to flourish. Ian says “all good music transcends boundaries” and it’s certainly clear here that Delta Rae does not fit easily into one field. Delta Rae is “a hell of a lot of Harmony,” Ian said, but they are not just that, they are also passion. Talented passion bred within a nursery of music for the soul.

Thinking Deep about 21st Century Learning

Marry Cantwell of Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in Sandy Springs, Georgia, is the director of the first Designed Thinking K-12 initiative in Atlanta, and one of the few in the country. Grown from the Mount Vernon Center for Designed Thinking the i.Design Lab is modeled after the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, or commonly known as, wherein 21st century learners are not only encouraged to solve problems, but to define them. Cantwell has taken the’s approach for designed thinking and applied it to develop her own new and unique “going D.E.E.P.” process, (Discover, Empathy, Experiment and Produce), and used this model to help students think about problems in new ways.

The program has been a success so far, beginning with the first project given to the lower school students last year, which was to design the 25th century classroom. Since then, MVCDT built that classroom and invited an Atlanta based CEO to help develop with another project in designing apps. i.Design then paired high school and lower school students together to build the apps which the students designed together, combining designed thinking and digital learning.

Melody Cannon, Language Arts teacher at MVPS has fears, though that 21st century learners unavoidable pitfall will occur as the role of technology turns into a crutch. Cannon bills digital learning not as a be all and end all.

“You need to be able to walk outside and find out what clouds are made of. Learn what a birds song sounds like,” says Cannon.

Cannon says digital learning can be a “distraction” and people are used to “googling.” Cannon believes tablets and laptops pose a threat when games and other distractions are readily available, but hand held web-driven devices such as Kindles or Nooks can transform the way educators and students interact, but criticizes them for not having e-textbooks readily available when the iPad has programs such as Inkling and Our Choice.

Doctor Hite, 9th grade World History teacher at MVPS believes that there is a gap in understanding how digital learning is done though.

“There’s a common misconception that young people understand technology right off the bat… that old people don’t know how to use technology,“ says Hite.

Hite believes learning how to use a laptop in the classroom is no different than learning the fundamentals of note taking.

Hite says, “A pen and a pad don’t make you a good writer” and the same can be applied to digital learning since, “just because you have a blog doesn’t mean you can write well.”

Technology is a tool, but without the proper training it’s useless, however Hite asserts technology’s ability to aid student’s organization skills, general performance and output in school is boundless.

The outlook of 21st century learners rely on innovative processes much like Kennesaw, Georgia based iSchool Initiative. iSchool, founded by Kennesaw State University student Travis Allen, aims to empower students through revolutionizing the way we learn using all technology. The iSchool Initiative has gathered that buying an iPad can save money versus total costs of textbooks etc. in the long run and predicated that within the next 10 years, textbooks will be gone from the classroom. From Designed Thinking to Digital Learning, It is the voice of Allen’s and every other 21st century learner that will shape the way we learn in the future.

Allen says, “Technology is compared to Oxygen, ubiquitous and invisible,” and much like learning it’s all around us, but it isn’t until we start to think about the way we learn that change occurs.

Readership at KSU

A few days ago, I took a serious look at one of the bins that carries my school’s free newspaper, ”The Sentinel” which sat right next to a stack of the New York Times. The American Democracy Project in partnership with the NYT provides 350 copies of these “free” copies of the Times to KSU students every day, 365 days a year. The Sentinel however is delivered once a week and doesn’t release any news during school breaks. This juxtaposition of the hyper-local Sentinel versus the salient and dominate NYT made me think about the effects that the New York Times had on college readers habits, how they got there in the first place, who reads them, and why do we need them?

The ADP is a nationwide program organized by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The ADP sponsored NYT journalist and foreign editor Greg Winters on the KSU campus in February and cosponsored an event to bring Nicholas Kristof to campus for a lecture. This program has done a great deal in the way of civic engagement and political awareness for students and the idea that newspapers are critical for democracy is inherent in this program.

This summer, the ADP will pilot an online program that will give all-access to the NYT online content for students at Kennesaw State University (KSU) and other ADP involved universities around the country. This program will allow 350 “seats” for students to fill at any one time to read the NYT, the same amount of issues that students receive on campus each week.

Still uncertain that KSU students were even interested in a college readership program, I stood in front of the dining hall and surveyed my peers on their reading habits. What I found from the small 20 student sample was that 50% did not read the KSU Sentinel, which didn’t surprise me very much; college students aren’t known as big news consumers. Only 35% of students read the NYT, but what I found interesting was that almost all of the students that did not read the NYT weren’t even aware that there was a College Readership Program on campus. Therefore had students been aware of the Readership Program it might be more of an effective tool to get students to read the Times and other print media.

When I spoke to Dr. Rascati, Co-coordinator for the American Democracy Project, he said, “the number of copies [of the Times] that are left over are almost always zero,” which he later conceded that copies of the paper could be picked up by faculty and staff which is then hard to estimate the amount of copies that actually land in the hands of students. So, I can’t necessarily peg students as believers or non-believers in print media.

Ed Bonza, Media Advisor at Kennesaw State University said that the KSU Sentinel will never die if it produces quality news that Kennesaw students want to read. On the other hand, this has been a very real issue that has plagued the traditional print newspapers. In my survey I found that half would rather get their news from a real newspaper and the other half would rather get their news online. So, the print edition is still popular, but there is just as much interest in the online product, which may be why the Times and the ADP is moving toward an online based readership.

After everything is said and done, I came to a conclusion that college readers just aren’t that interested in newspapers which is why the ADP and the NYT have made it so readily available. And the ADP and the NYT have established what is ultimately – this might sound a little cynical – a business model for selling the Times. This business model sells newspapers on the idea that news is essential to democracy, but I do have some doubts about the program. Especially since it seems like they are free, but in actuality the University pays for the subscriptions through academic funds which takes money away from the student run Sentinel. I wouldn’t want to underplay the ADP’s role on campus, but it seems like the ADP and the NYT have created what will become a model for all news institutions to ensure that college readers read their paper.