Why Teachers Need to Understand New Technology

Please watch this video of a baby, one year old, using both an ipad and a magazine….

and here’s the second video, showing the same baby is not confused by other forms of media…

And there are plenty of other videos on youTube including this one showing an infant using an ipad naturally and without instruction…

And here’s one with 6 year olds learning the 3 r’s using iOS devices:

What does all of this mean?

Clearly, students coming into school have had more exposure to technology and interactive media early on than ever before. This will effect their expectations of the learning environment, and we need to be prepared to teach these students- and we don’t have very long to adapt.

What About High School Students?

Now on the other extreme, a recent news item reported that a high school senior got in trouble for a tweet (twitter message) sent while on a field trip to see Gov. Sam Brownback in Kansas.
You can read more about the incident here and here where the item was picked up by CNN and other major news networks, including NPR, The Washington Post and more. I wrote a blog post about this over on my personal blog as well.

The long and short of this incident is that a simple message sent by a student can have bigger ramifications than that student can possibly understand when composing the 140 character message. As adults involved in education, I believe we have a responsibility to help teach our students good digital citizenship, and understand digital citizenship ourselves. What we say can have bigger consequences- this incident could impact this particular student’s college application process; it can impact her school record; the reaction made by the adults can impact their jobs and even electability. I stand behind this student’s right to free speech, and do not think anything she said warranted to response and reaction adults took to the tweet. The action was simple and silly- the over-reaction by others was more childish. But in the end, the important factor here is that we all have to begin to realize that the digital communication channels are changing the world of communication for good and for bad. It allows messages to be sent that may give voice to students and teach them to express their opinions and beliefs eloquently, or not. They can spread hate, lies, rumors, and more. It just does it a bit faster and more broadly than passing notes or calling friends on the phone after school. And because the ability for messages to be passed widely and instantly, we need to teach students more about responsibility at the same time. This is about more than bullying- it’s about helping our students develop a sense of digital responsibility that’s available to them now, even if we, the adults, are still coming to grips with it ourselves.

Time is running short. The world is changing before our eyes. We’re not fully prepared, and we know our kids aren’t fully prepared, either. But we can’t wait and hope this will go away, because the world is only going to move faster, not slower. And these kids are already sitting in your classrooms, and need your help in making good choices. What are you doing to help them learn these skills? What can we do together to help make this a reality?

Please leave your comments below on what you would like to see regarding digital citizenship and social media training.

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