Wired up – Tuned in or Tuned out?

I was so taken by this brief article in August, that I organized a panel discussion around this topic at an upcoming educational conference to be held in Virginia Beach, VA, 21-24 March 2009 titled “Stories, Games, and New Technologies for Digital Natives”. More details in a future post…

“Generation IM – Getting through to today’s teched-out children”
August 2008
Source: Instructor Magazine

Jacob is your average American 11-year-old. He has a television and a Nintendo DS in his bedroom; his family also has two computers, a wireless Internet connection, and a PlayStation 3. His parents rely on e-mail, instant messaging, and Skype for daily communication, and they’re avid users of Tivo and Netflix. Jacob has asked for a Wii for his upcoming birthday. His selling point? “Mom and Dad, we can use the Wii Fit and race Mario Karts together!”

Most likely, you teach a classroom full of Jacobs. Peggy Sheehy knows what that’s like from firsthand experience. “Outside of school, our children are bombarded with digital input—and they have been
since the day they were born,” she says.

As an instructional technology facilitator at Suffern Middle School in New York, Sheehy knows how tech has fundamentally changed the world our students live in—and perhaps our students themselves.

“Compared to us, I believe their brains have developed differently,” says Sheehy. “If we teach them the way we were taught, we’re not serving them well.”

And that’s just what many teachers struggle with: How do we teach 21st-century skills to a generation of digital-media natives? What does it mean for our teaching methods and curricula—let alone how we relate to our students? And who are these kids, anyway?

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One Response to Wired up – Tuned in or Tuned out?

  1. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever for claiming “their brains are developing differently” — this is wacky cult belief.

    If we don’t at least teach the basics “the way we were taught,” we will have created an irresponsible and uneducated generation — and encouraged criminality and the disintegration of civilization. No need to be extreme here – you can take advantage of the new media and the new learning styles without suc destructiveness — it’s ok to learn the times tables by rote.

    BTW, I’ve found it’s pretty easy to cut through all that wiring to your kids. You can try things like “I have $10 here if you are willing to take your headphones off and do some chores” or “I just made some chocolate brownies.” The headphones and the Wiis and even the WoWs come off in a flash. Kids are not robots. They are people, just like us, no need to pretend they are alienated or to fetishize them as “evolved creatures”.

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