I am a “digital nati-grant.”
At least I’d like to think so. Not quite “digital natives” like my students, but not exactly “digital immigrants” like my parents. I think I’m somewhere in between. It’s comfortable because I can move from one spectrum to the next with relative ease. And as an educator, it’s a GREAT position to be in.
Marc Prensky’s article Shaping Tech for the Classroom discusses the typical process of technology adoption in schools. It usually involves:
- Doing old things in old ways
- Doing old things in new ways
- Doing new things in new ways
We started dabbling with technology in schools by having a computer here and there and/or using software created by teachers and other individuals; however, not much is happening. Prensky states that “[…] writing, creating, submitting, and sharing work digitally on the computer via email […] is in the category of doing old things (communicating and exchanging) in old ways (passing stuff around).” We’ve then come a long way by using simulations such as SimCity, Real Lives and School Tycoon to show demonstrations and have student involvement in manipulating whole virtual systems, but in reality it’s still doing old things in new ways. Finally, we’ve arrived at a place where change is needed in our kids’ 21st century lives – doing new things in new ways – an invention.
The changes that we need in the digital age are “[…] new curricula, new organisation, new architecture, new teaching, new student assessments, new parental connections, new administration procedures, and many other elements.” Marc suggests that the first step towards this direction is to consult the young. After all, they are the “digital immigrants.” They are far ahead in terms of taking advantage of the technology that is available. The second step is to combine what they know about technology and what we know and require about education.
If that’s the case, why not start with a digital discourse? It could start at one school in a smaller scale and expand. Students, teachers, parents, administrators, test creators and policy makers would be required to attend. As a “digital nati-grant” we’re in a good position to hear our student’s concerns and needs, and at the same time, we can provide evidence of our students’ achievements to convince administrators, test creators and policy makers to move forward with the prevailing educational landscape. It will be a monumental challenge for us to undertake, but we don’t have a choice. What do we have to lose? Our children’s future. . . ?