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Restless digital natives

November 7, 2009

“The technology itself is not transformative, it’s school, the pedagogy that is transformative” Tanya Byron

I am going to be hosting a discussion and giving a short presentation at my school’s ‘Bridging the Gap’ conference under the above heading. This blog post is where I am working out what I want to say. The research and thinkers I will refer to are linked through the post.

Dispensing with notions of the digital immigrant

I will pull on Ewan McIntosh’s reasons that digital native and digital immigrant are not especially useful terms as they put unnecessary and illogical barriers in our minds about learning and technology, especially, as he points out, that the last four years have seen the most rapid and transformative changes. Digital immersion does not equate with digital awareness, perhaps the opposite. I will refer to the Digital Youth Research: Kids Informal Learning with Digital Media) that encourage us to take a more nuanced view of the way children are engaging with technology.

Consciously unknowing

I am going to argue that we need to relax a little in the face of alarmist and hyperbolic proclamations about technological change. I will refer to the example of a music promoting acquaintance’s admission that he ‘had given up trying to keep up with where electronic music is at”. I will parallel this map of electronic music with this map of emerging collaborative technologies. His giving up was a creative breakthrough for him, he was just relaxing out of the anxiety that he needed to have a handle on the whole creative community to organise musical experiences. There is a lot to be learned from this, the rapid change message can be counter productive for those that are not already part of that change. In a more fluid and unpredictable environment we need to relax and go with the flow more while at the same time sharpen our capacities to be effective critical navigators of our own learning.

Time for a rethink of students’ digital spaces

With all of this in mind I will share some of the mistakes that I think I have made with technology in the classroom. Konrad Glogowski’s post called teaching how to learn, helped me further my own thinking that many of the things I have tried to do with blogging in the classroom have been pushing in the wrong direction. Our own learning hub in our school is worth pursuing but I have always had the feeling that while blogging software was right for school use, the term ‘blog’ sits uneasily with our needs, can a given space be a personal and owned space.

From this I will look forward and bring in the group’s ideas about some questions I am still working on. I will also hopefully have some student survey feedback to help our discussions.

I hope to have time to refer to the following:

Stephen Downes: Seven habits of connected people

Alan November’s 3 skills students need for the digital age

Howard Rheingold’s thoughts on the key skills we need

And finally a post on teacher learning from an educational technology enthusiast and presenter on teacher passions and their role in developing approaches to technology in education.

More information and notes on these sources to follow when I get the time…cc

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