Guiding our kids into their fast-changing futures.
“I’m wondering if the new digital divide…is not about access but about people who have the time, energy, and skills to develop new media literacy and those who don’t.”
The New York Times reports that a growing number of colleges and universities are getting more and more interested in the creative sides of potential applicants, asking them “off-kilter questions” designed to gauge more than just what shows up on a transcript. The University of Chicago, for instance, wants to know “What does Play-Dough have to do with Plato?” (We’re working on our answer.)
Student reaction is mixed, with some embracing the opportunity while others would just as soon stick to the more predictable college essay topics. (Not for nothing, but the latter may not fare to well as CEOs in the future according to a recent IBM survey.)
As for us, we wondering how we can help write the questions.
Let us know what creative essay topics you might pose to your kids.
In our ongoing efforts to provide a (pretty much) fair and balanced digest of the ongoing debate around social media and kids we bring you this extremely positive overview from author Clive Thompson, who recently published Smarter Than You Think: How technology is changing our minds for the better. Thompson, a parent of two elementary school boys, says “New technologies always provoke generational panic, which usually has more to do with adult fears than with the lives of teenagers.” (Rock and Roll, anyone?) We’re not naive enough to suggest the mix of the Web and our kids is all good, but we tend to agree with most of his observations here.
Related: On the subject of books, we’ve both been taken by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s new book Age of Context which paints a provocative picture of what the world is becoming for our kids given the ubiquitousness of technology.
If you’d like more of our thoughts on where we’re at with all of this, read on.
Here’s what we need to remember about social media…it’s still in it’s infancy, and we really haven’t had enough time to fully parse the good and bad opportunities that we’re now faced with. It’s especially tough because in large measure, our kids are the guinea pigs here. In many cases, they are the first adopoters, the ones who are prone to hack new tools to their own needs, to experiment and test the limits while we adults watch and at times follow. That shift has left many adults filled with angst and confusion. (We admit to some of that from time to time as well.)
We know this much: our kids (and we ourselves) will be connected by technology for the rest of our lives. We may not know what the next generation of tools and connections look like, we may recoil from the blistering pace of the changes ahead, and we may never feel fully comfortable with what we put in our kids hands (or what they get for themselves.) But welcome to what many are calling “perpetual beta,” not just in technology but in learning, in education, and in parenting. Out of necessity, we’re going to be figuring this out as we go. Not that parenting hasn’t always been like that. But there’s little question that the changes of the last decade or so have come at a larger scale and with a greater speed than parents in the past had to deal with.
As always, the truth in the debate around social media lies somewhere in the middle. It can be amazingly powerful to connect and share and learn with others regardless of age. But it can also be incredibly complex, confusing, scary, and harmful. The good news is that we can share our stories more easily now, learn from one another about various ways to approach these questions with our kids, and write the ever-changing manual together.
We’ll leave you this week with a taste of what the future may look like for all of us (once the price comes down) and with a gift idea that will make you the hit of the holidays: Oakley Airwave Ski Goggles, coming in at a cool $650 US.
Why so much? How about GPS integration with a built-in trip viewer to review your downhill performance, jump analytics, navigation, buddy tracking of friends with Airwaves, music and…wait for it…smartphone connectivity to view incoming calls and text messages.
Any wonder Oakley is making you sign a waiver from any injuries suffered from texting while skiing?
Welcome to the “Wearable Internet.”
Got any other great techie gifts in mind?
According to the Wall Street Journal the influx of younger, computer game-playing teachers is driving what seems to be a “new frontier in education,” one that teaches an important lesson that most classroom work doesn’t: the benefits of failure. As professor Joey Lee of Columbia Teachers College notes, gaming “creates a positive relationship with failure, especially because the stakes are so low.”
And that equals persistence, reflection, self-direction and a whole bunch of other stuff we hope our kids take with them into adulthood.
Related: There may, however, also be a downside to all this gaming stuff.
We’d love to know your thoughts on games in the classroom.
Our friend Audrey Watters made what we think is one of the most important observations regarding the recent iPad rollout and, subsequent rollback in Los Angeles due to student “hacking” (and more) of the devices. In the Atlantic, she writes:
“It’s important to recognize how students do learn with technology. It isn’t simply a matter of a digital version of analog lessons and readings—something implicitly presumed by the Los Angeles’s school system’s plan to ‘limit the tablets, when taken home, to curricular materials from the Pearson corporation, which are already installed.’”
This shouldn’t be rocket science, but we see too many schools and districts giving every child an internet-connected device without having developed a different vision for teaching and learning in the classroom. Using iPads or laptops or smartphones to digitally deliver the traditional curriculum misses the point. Connected technologies give kids a freedom to learn that is powerful and different from the standard classroom, and different from the way most of us learned ourselves.
Related: If you’re interested, here are the details on the LAUSD debacle.
What do you think needs to be in place for a 1-1 rollout?