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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Digital Youth Portrait: Virginia

Living in a small town in rural Georgia doesn't keep this 14-year-old from connecting with the global village. More to this story.

Digital Youth Portrait: Virginia (Transcript)

Virginia: My name is Virginia. I'm fourteen years old. I live in Camilla, Georgia, and I get fun, entertainment, and ease outta technology. It just makes everything a lot easier for me.

Virginia: Camilla, Georgia, is like a small southern town. You know, we don't get the newest stuff here, and I definitely think people overlook Camilla and the students at Westwood, and people are surprised to hear the achievements we've had in computer class.I first started using computers about the seventh grade, but I really started to get the in depth view on technology when I entered into eighth grade with Miss Vicki's class.

>>Virginia: -- how deep you can go into making your character different, like--

Vicki Davis: Okay, so how you can customize it.

Virginia: Yeah, customizing your character.

Vicki Davis: I focus on teaching them how to learn new software, learning how to learn, using the Wiki, how to blog effectively, collaborating effectively, being very comfortable with just about any technology.

Virginia: She first showed us how to blog.

Vicki Davis: You have to click on object and change your X, Y and Z.

Virginia: And then she went into media and how you can edit videos, and I just got so involved with it. It was amazing.

Okay, here's my iGoogle page. I have my Digi Teen Dream Team stuff right here. Digi Teen is a website my computer teacher created and it was basically for schools all around the world to talk about digital citizenship and do different blog posts with it. I do about one blog a month, with people on Digi Teen. I'm a health freak, so, you know, I have the world's healthiest foods, food of the week. Every other day, I like to go on YouTube and see the top rated videos, and then sometimes I'll go to Spark Notes and read up a coupla the books I'm studying. I love to text message. I use iTunes and that's how I get my music and I share it with my friends. I love to go on MySpace and Facebook and play games like Guitar Hero. It's my favorite game. I love to play basketball.

Azalee: Virginia is an awesome kid. There's a sweet, wonderful, kind girl on the one side, and then,the other side is this fierce competitor, with a drive to succeed.

Virginia: I did really good on defense today. Someone baseline drived me a coupla times, but-- I know, I know. Mom, this ice is like frozen over.

Azalee: Why don't you [inaudible] real quick and unfreeze it? Shazam.

Virginia: When I get home from basketball, I usually spend about forty five minutes checking my MySpace and Facebook, and I usually just reply back to friends' comments and I go look at new pictures they've posted. I love to take pictures. I've tons of them.

Vicki Davis: The thing that makes Virginia very unique that really impressed me when we did our digital citizenship project, was that she realized that she was on Facebook for too much every day, more than four hours a day.

Virginia: I realized I was being very unhealthy online. I started losing my color in my face and I started, you know, eating differently. It was really weird. So I was like, this is not good.

Azalee: They had a fast at our church, that everyone was asked to give something up for three weeks, and Virginia saw this as an opportunity to reflect on the fact that she was wired three hours a day, and so she gave it up.

Vicki Davis: I think that that shows a lot of maturity in ninth grade to keep that balance, because technology is great, but we also have a real life to live and technology should improve our lives, not take away from our lives.

Virginia: Okay, when everybody gets in their wigwams, raise your hand. I'm teaching young elementary kids how to stay safe online.Do you think there can be bad people that would try and hurt you on a website called Wiggi World? I really wanted to make a difference with that situation, so I found this website called Wiggi World, and I was like, "Miss Vicki, this would be a great thing to do." We just got a class going and we're just teaching them, you know, the little aspects of digital citizenship that can go a long way. Things you think you should keep private to yourself online, like not tell a stranger, even if they ask? Mm-hmm.

Student 1: Your email address.

Virginia: You would not tell your email address. What else?

Student 2: Where you live.

Virginia: Good job. The kids have loved Wiggi World. They don't really look at it as learning. They just look at it as playing, you know. Do you think we should give them our cell phone number?

Everybody: No.

Virginia: No. I've learned from the experience of teaching how naïve young kids in the fourth grade are to technology, the dangers of it. Do you have any pets? Do you think that would be an okay question?

Vicki Davis: Digital citizenship is one of the most misunderstood, under appreciated topics in terms of education in schools. Here in the south, we say a little bit of dirt is good for your health. If you want to raise an unhealthy child, you put them in a bubble and you never let them get exposed to germs. But no filter is going to ever be perfect.

Virginia: What is your real name? No, that's not a good question.

Vicki Davis: I engage my students in becoming teachers, because it's presentation skills and it's leadership. But if you want to truly know something, if you have to teach it, then you become an expert.

Virginia: I just love to get up there and, you know, teach the kids. These things are very important. You need to remember them as long as you use a computer. Miss Vicki has, you know, made me see technology in such a new, different light, and she's just introduced me to the vast majority of technology, not just cell phones and computers, but, you know, blogging and actually reaching out to help people through technology. I get to meet so many new people and, you know, share with them my views on everything. I do think [inaudible] technology's improving my life. My mom was very against cell phones. She hated them. We finally talked her into getting a cell phone, 'cause we could never get in touch with her, and it's been so much easier for her. And I always have to show her new things to do with it. She always like, "I don't know what to do on this star thing," you know.

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Video Credits

Produced and Directed by

  • Carl Bidleman

Coordinating Producer

  • Lauren Rosenfeld


  • Christa Collins

Camera Crew

  • Patrick Gregory
  • Dale Gray
  • Matt Johnson
  • Carl Bidleman

Production Support

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Production Assistant

  • Doug Keely

Original Music

  • Ed Bogas

Senior Video Editor

  • Karen Sutherland

Executive Producer

  • Ken Ellis


Wiki: A collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone with access to contribute or modify content.

Digital citizenship: A concept that helps teachers, school technology leaders, and parents understand what students should know to use technology appropriately.

Woogi World: A virtual world that teaches elementary school children how to safely and effectively use the Internet.

Sources: Wikipedia.org, DigitalCitizenship.net, WoogiWorld.com

Discussion Questions

1. Is Virginia typical of kids in your community? Why, or why not?

2. What are specific examples of how Virginia gets what she describes as "fun, entertainment, and ease" out of technology? Is there value in that, or is she just wasting her time with idle distractions?

3. How important was the role of her teacher, Vicki Davis, in her development? Who among the adults in your school or community play a similar role with kids?

4. Many adults fear that kids are negatively impacted by spending too much time on computers. What lessons can we learn from Virginia's struggle with what she calls "life balance"?

5. What do you think about Virginia's role as a "teacher"? How can you support kids in your community to become experts who teach others?

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