We are at a crossroads. There are two possible paths before us—one in which we destroy what is great about the Internet and about how young people use it, and one in which we make smart choices and head toward a bright future in a digital age. The stakes of our actions today are very high. The choices that we are making now will govern how our children and grandchildren live their lives in many important ways: how they shape their identities, protect their privacy, and keep themselves safe; how they create, understand, and shape the information that underlies the decision-making of their generation; and how they learn, innovate, and take responsibility as citizens. On one of these paths, we seek to constrain their creativity, self-expression, and innovation in public and private spheres; on the other, we embrace these things while minimizing the dangers that come with the new era.
The website which accompanies Born Digital has a video for each chapter. Here is the video for "Identities":
If you want to watch more of the videos which accompany this book, please visit the Born Digital web site.
What do you think about this "crossroads" or any other aspect of what you read in the book excerpt? How do you think this affects our role as educators?
Some random first thoughts as I read this Palfrey excerpt (plan on reading the rest of book this summer):
This thread/forum (as do several others) reminds me of one of Howard Gardner's most recent publications: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed: Educating for Virtues in the 21st century. I think his ideas are relevant to our work with our students and worthy of discussion with them as well.... how has the advancement and proliferation of technology changed how truth, beauty and goodness are defined and perceived? Think about how the interwebs have influenced the recent uprisings around the world and our own individual views of what is "right" and "wrong." As educators, I believe we have a responsibility to engage with our students on these topics.
An interview with Gardner on RadioBoston:
Re. Charlie's #3, wise decision or overly conservative... What's out if something comes in? Don't we ask ourselves that at BB&N all the time? Certainly in content we adapt fairly readily (Good-by Ernest and F. Scott, welcome Toni and Amy. And in style ("yes, I'm aware of your challenges with auditory processing here's a written overview of the week..."). Do the new technologies offer challenges that are fundamentally different from challenges of the past?
What should we hold on to and what can we jettison as the web makes new demands and proffers new opportunities
strikes me as best engaged in thoughtful department discussions and lone musings.
Just finished reading this excerpt and Charlie's comments above. Much of the computing that kids learn is inherent in their day-to-day activities, and Palfrey illustrates this point with many examples of how digital natives think and learn. With all the shortcuts and benefits of ready access to the world it is important to remember how we navigate through the world, so I appreciate that Palfrey recognizes the temptation to push legal and ethical limits in the digital age. (Not saying that this push didn't happen in other ages, just that there are new boundaries for one to reflect.)
The Born Digital excerpt resonated profoundly with me since I have a daughter (now 19) that was born a year after the WWW made its debut. I even have a picture (now digital) of her operating the computer when she was only a little over 2 years old. Being a mother I worry about everything - diseases, friends, education - you name it. I agree with Anthony R. regarding the dual responsibility of home and school to be accountable for children's safety regarding digital items. I have, however, taught my daughter to swim in deep water, drive a car as safely as possible on Rt. 128, AND use technology wisely. Since she is dyslexic she has profited greatly with all of the new technologies that help those with learning issues. I have a smile on my face when I see her balancing digital along side the old time method of reading a book with pages. Digital is here to stay and has many benefits. We can't let fear get in our way as educators.
Balancing the opportunities of this new terrain and the challenges of the unknown will be the ongoing issue here. As I reflect on both the original questions stated in Charlie’s lead-in and the observations of the next posts, I, too, am struck by the enormity of our task.
We can focus on backwards design and proceed with our articulation of specific skills & content in this area across the grade levels, but this is only one piece of the complex puzzle; we will quickly discover that we have only hit the tip of the iceberg. In my role, I spend a great deal of time with parents and my current lens is about our role and responsibility with them. Already, the expectations of schools have grown over a short period of time and we are spread thin ~ what’s a realistic approach?
Our sphere of influence is limited. There is such discrepancy among families about beliefs, expectations and “social norms” when it comes to technology. Parents are the ones facilitating most access at the younger age levels and monitoring (and more often not) our young people. As a school, we need to be clearer ourselves about our beliefs and expectations and then share them with families for meaningful progress. Our own internal dialogue is an effective first step, but for a true partnership with families and effective results, it would take a deep commitment on our part as a school to truly engage families over time in this ongoing work. Are we prepared to do that? Are there other more creative and realistic options?
Choose your term of choice -- crossroads/epoch/tipping point, etc. The moment seems to be upon us.
Teachers know how much energy and inspiration it takes (and how necessary and rewarding it can be for their students and themselves) to change aspects of their curriculum content. Revolutionizing the learning mode to provide the most effective educational experience for children who are digital "natives" is likely to require exponentially more energy -- and we need to embrace this change, as radical as it may feel to us non-natives.
BB&N has made laudable progress incorporating technology into the learning environment, yet we all know that as a whole we are still in the early stages of the effort, relatively speaking. As posted in Beth Brooks' discussion forum: "Today, learning environments that do not offer highly engaging learning systems with both a superior level of technology-based connectivity and the teacher-as-learning architect/modeler at their center are at great risk of quickly becoming archaic and out of touch with children." As educators, and as an independent school, is this something we are willing to risk?