Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tech Divide or Tech Indifference?

For a while now, those of us in education have been blitzed with the need to make our kids better digital citizens...we need to take advantage of the tools that kids are already using on the read/write web. Facebook and MySpace, they tell us, are where kids spend the lion's share of their time when online. The fact that many school filters block them both is a discussion for another time. I have tried it, and I am not sure that I buy it and here's why:

1. Kids who can update facebook but cannot center text in a Word document should not be considered digital citizens
2. When teachers post (me) class notes on a class Wiki and 2 students have used it, they are not showing themelves to be digital citizens
3. When lessons and links from teachers (me) are posted for other teachers to use and they are not, the teacher is not a digital citizen
4. Finally, when a student insists that an ethernet port and a USB port are the same thing, they are not digital citizens

I can hear you now..."but we need to catch kids where they are" and "since they are using the technology let's show them how to use it better". And I argue that we are teaching them how to use it but that they refuse to, or lack the means, to use it. As far as using technology because the kids do...doesn't that amount to pandering to some extent?

Now it's your turn...


Lori said...

Hi Doug,
You make several good points! I must admit that I just opened a Facebook account for networking purposes. After I read your post, I wondered...just what are kids/young adults/and perhaps what do I hope to get out of Facebook? You are right, it won't teach anyone how to tell the differences you mentioned...yet it does allow its users to connect. I have connected with professionals around the globe that I would otherwise have never "met". Will it result in worthwhile connections that create some kind of professional meaning - hard to say...but the "possibility" is there. I think learning how to use Facebook addresses our need to think globally, understand how to share information ethically, and how to create a online presence that reflects ethical intents and purposes. I do believe our students need to learn more in that area. What do you think?

Spicher113 said...

Kids having an On-Line presence is a great thing. However, I think that most kids think that the on line presence is the only thing. I worked with a group of kids last week who could not navigate a web page. They did not read! Are we making it too easy for them to take shortcuts that they invariably take in "real" reading? What do you use Facebook for?

Tom Saunders said...

Hi Doug,

I believe students use online tools to talk to new people, to download music, and as a creative outlet for their interests. I don't believe they have been trained to do much more than that. Further, I believe that as educators we have a role in showing how online tools can be used to do more than just entertain us. They can be used to practice Creativity and Innovation,
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving and Communication and Collaboration

The power of using technology in the classroom is the ENGAGEMENT of the student. It is not the only way of getting students engaged in the learning process, but it is a very powerful tool to employ.

Do you find that your students are apathetic and lack the skills of learning in other areas beyond technology?

Lori said...

Hi Doug,
Here is an interesting blog post:

It speaks to how I think Facebook fits into the "learning" process. It isn't that I think we should be promoting FaceBook in our district. But, I do think it would be powerful to promote a networking tool in a learning environment so that students could learn how they might use it for positive educational goals....


Spicher113 said...

Hi Tom.

Apathy was not what I was referring to. I am referring to the utility of the tools that kids use. I want us to tap into that utility and use it. The computer must be used efficiently and we have to tap into that part of kids' knowledge. How do we do that?