Sunday, October 24, 2010

How are our schools changing to meet the change in the type of student walking into our buildings?

S. Craig Watkins, University of Texas at Austin professor and author of “The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future” asked the pivotal question during Tuesday’s Keynote at the NSBA’s Technology & Learning Conference, How are our schools changing to meet the change in the type of student walking into our buildings?

The amount of time our school aged children are exposed to media is increasing at a rapid rate, from 7:29 hours a day in 1999 to 10:45 in 2009. As the New York Times article from January 20, 2010 states, “If your kids are awake, they’re probably online”. For example, there is never a time in the day where people are not on Facebook. Someone is always posting to this prominent social networking site (SNS). Currently 73% of all teens belong to a SNS (55% of 12-13 year olds and 82% of 14 to 17 year olds). At the college age, this statistic jumps to 98%, with almost 60% visiting a SNS 3 or more times a day.

Social networking sites are not just about consuming content but are a place for youth to create and produce content. It gives students a voice. As the three year, U.S wide study funded by the MacArthur Foundation, Living and Learning with New Media (2009), states these digital spaces provide our youth with a space of their own, leading to increased competence, one of the four dimensions leading towards authentic student engagement, the goal of Collegiate Renewal within the Saskatoon Public Schools.

Watkins feels that the Digital Divide is no longer the issue we once believed it was. In 2004, 18% of 8 to 18 year olds owned a iPod or MP3 player. In 2009, 76% have one. Cell phone ownership by the same group has risen from 39% in 2004 to 66% in 2009. While laptop ownership has only risen from 12 to 29% during the same time frame, Watkins would still like us to consider that it is no longer a matter of access but more about the quality of the participation. The data leads Watkins and others to consider the Smartphone to be the standard device in the near future. As such, this is also changing the way we use the internet. As Wired Magazine reported in September of 2010, “The Web is Dead. Long Love The Internet” .

We need to be creating conditions where technology is being used to support problem solving, just as our students are solving problems within the games they play online. We need to be creating conditions where collective intelligence is supported. The smartest people know what they don’t know and find ways to fill in the gap with others. We need to be teaching our students transmedia navigation, where they know how to filter all information available to them through technology.

We can no longer abide by the “power down” policies that continue to persist in schools. Our kids are changing. The world around them is changing. Technology is changing their experiences. How are our schools changing to meet the change in the type of student walking into the room?

1 comment:

  1. Scott,

    enjoyed the research you include in your post. I enjoy the learning and will look for subsequent posts.