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Reflections about a technological world...
I have recently come across this article by Marc Prensky, 2009, in which he 'examines ways in which existing technologies and future developments in the digital world could facilitate the development of wisdom and wise decison making.' http://www.wisdompage.com/Prensky01.html
In other word's, digital technologies are allowing us to think in whole new ways. Further, the speed in which these technologies are being created and changing keeps us on our toes. To our students, this is second-nature them. They do not get the problems that their older teachers and parents may be having with all of this. Basically, it is change and it is coming at us faster than ever. Change in Education has always been met with resistance, but, now, instead of the Evolution of Education, we have a Revolution of Education.
To understand some of the resistance, we can look at the purpose, or function, of Education. But, of course, it depends who you ask, and do we mean, "What should the purpose of education be?" versus, "What is the purpose of our present education system?"
Of course rote and memorization and facts and 'only one right answer' is all very measurable. But, critical thinking skills and creativity - how on Earth do you quantify that? You can, however, see the results of this new thinking by looking at what our students are producing; by listening to what they are saying; by looking at the jobs the first of the Digital Natives are doing. We are beginning to be able to see what the effects on our world are that Digital Technologies are enabling.
"Kids have it too easy, nowadays. They don't have to find anything. It makes them lazy. When I went to school, if I wanted to know something, I had to physically look for the answers in books, such as encyclopedias, maybe even in the library. Kids, today, just use Google and the answer comes up. They can just be lazy. Plus, they can't even add without using calculators!"
Albert Einstein recognized that, "the problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them."
The same person got into a discussion about the state of politics in our city, which is the same in most places, I believe. Everybody complains about the idiocy of government, but instead of taking the chance to elect an all-new council, only 3 out of 15 were new, and the Mayor was similar in age and beliefs as the last bunch of mayors. Thus, the grumbling and complaining persists.
Digital Natives are those who grew up with digital technology from birth, whereas Digital Immigrants are those who were already socialized in predigital ways when digital technology arrived on the scene. For more information, see Prensky (2001).
Our students are Digital Natives, myself and many of my colleagues are Digital Immigrants, but many people are just Analogue, I guess.
Today’s kids think nothing of being ‘on-line’ most of their lives; computers and technology are second-nature. Many of our parents and even their parents have gotten on-board at varying paces. But, I fall somewhere in the middle. Though I have caught myself firstname.lastname@example.org after being asked for just my name;)
I suspect my lack of know-how in the organizational department of information has to do with the times I grew up, which are directly related to the advance of technology…
The first computers I remember using were the good ol’ commodore 64s – with 64K of memory, I’ll have you know!!!
Load, “Frogger”,8 and, voila…..
I asked for Frogger and I got Frogger! (Note: I didn’t actually ask, I commanded. It was the times before fancy icons made know-how less important, and why when it all goes wrong, many of us don’t have a clue what to do, other than kick the darn thing!)
And, of course, Atari… it’s hard to believe that these were cool graphics!
From there… the first Nintendos, and Segas… I could play them and kick my brother’s friends’ butts because, unlike nowadays, you did not need an engineering degree to master the controls; could battle like a pro.
Gone are the days where a computer filled a room (not that I remember those days). Now there is more memory and capabilities in smaller, more affordable devices and technology is for everybody, not an elite group. Technology is advancing at supersonic speeds.
Today’s children know a lot of “stuff” about these here computers and technology in general. But, what they don’t know, and need guidance and TEACHING of (both from teachers AND parents) is critical literacy and problem solving skills. I am not getting into the debate whether all this technology is good or bad for our children because it is moot – it is here. We are in ‘full on’ technological times. Technology can be both beneficial and harmful, depending on how it is used.
So, we teach them how to use it (or they teach us, perhaps). We teach them the same morals and ethics and values. We teach them manners. We teach them Maths and Language. We teach them Art and Music and Dance and Phys. Ed. and Geography and History. We teach them but we teach them differently. We adapt (albeit, some slower than others), we change and we grow with the young people we teach. We guide them. We learn with them how to find, sort and sift through all the information out there. We help them to be critical; to ask questions; to treat others (on- and off-line) as they wish to be treated. It’s all there, just as it was, but different, and if anything, it is more critical we communicate early to get them on the right path for success.
AFTER ALL, THE JOBS OUR YOUTH WILL DO IN THE FUTURE, LIKELY DO NOT EVEN EXIST YET!!
I need a way to manage all the cool stuff I come across in that never-ending, all-encompassing place, called World Wide Web... or at least a bread crumb trail so I can find my way back to reality.
My toolbar is full; my desk top is full; my 'read later' list on Twitter is miles long; Emails are saved for later; the emails of links I have sent myself clutter my inbox; my bookmarks are also out of control!
There are so many fun and useful tools out there that I love and so many coming out each day. I find myself adding them to one of my over-filled lists mentioned above, and then forgetting about them until I bravely try to sort out my mess.
My technological footprint is a giant out-of-control blob of unorganized chaos! What I need is to wipe out my entire existence and start over, a re-do, if you will... but from what I understand, there is no going back. Once one has imprinted themselves on the Internet, one is there, immortalized forever. So, what can I do?
I'm serious... There must be an App For That - the one that organizes your computer existence with the click of your mouse. The 'Pro' version, by the way, might organize your real world life too:)
See, this is me going just a little bit buggy!
Nicola Schneider, Occasional Teacher, 13 years