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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Educating the Digital Generation

Teachers, administrators, and program directors share their perspectives on how engagement with digital media is changing education.

Educating the Digital Generation (Transcript)

Barry Joseph: We, as adults have the opportunity to watch for the kind of skills that we want you to be able to have, critical skills, issues around, not just competence, but also around being able to think critically, around ethics, around understanding when something is credible or not, and then we either create situations around digital media and learning, that bring those to the forefront so we can talk about them, and they become conscious and critical of them, or we watch them when they crop up and we jump on them. So maybe there's a situation where you're working with youth making [inaudible] and they want to get some photos for their-- to be an image behind them, for a set. Well is it ethical to go to grab any image you want from the internet, or do you need to get permission? So they might just grab whatever they want, and that, then, becomes a learning opportunity around IP issues.

Jared Washington: We view the laptops simply as modern tools for learning, and for working, just as much as a pen or a notebook would have been for me, when I was in school in the '70s. This should be standard issue. I don't believe that students coming out of grammar school or high school without a technological background, or some technical skill, and the ability to use technology in their personal development, in their learning, and as a work tool, will be as successful.

David Mundy: Well, when I first came into administration, which was about six years ago, we did everything we could to keep the cell phones out of the classroom, to keep, you know, all of the little gadgets they have, out of the classroom. You know, that is all turning. You know, now we're looking, in fact we know that 90 percent of our kids have a cell phone of some form. Most of it's just to communicate home, but they do. We also know, too, that our kids grew up with computers in their home. If not, they can go to the library, there's access to numerous ones, and our kids do that. You know, so we've got to take advantage of, in our philosophies, we've got to take advantage of all of this information that's out there, the easy access to information. I mean it's-- think back a couple of years ago, they always said you had to find at least two book references, you know, and maybe one computer one, when you did a report. We realize, most of our kids are going to go to a computer now, and get information from there. Now the difference is, you're not saying, don't use your computer to get information, you're saying, make sure you use the proper information when you do a research paper.

Vicki Davis: The other thing about kids is that they're multitasking all of the time. What the research shows is that we don't really multitask very well. So if they're on Facebook and they're doing their homework, and they're watching TV, likelihood is that they're not focusing on two, and they're really just focusing on one. And so that self discipline that comes from inside you has to be something that we talk about, and it is something we talk about. That's one reason we allow cell phones. We allow all these things in my classroom, because I want to teach my students that, in the midst of distraction, you can focus and you can say, "Okay, this is my task at hand." So you'll notice in my class, very often I'll come back and say, "Okay, now this is what you have to have done."

Gideon Sanders: I think if we don't tap into the resources, the technology resources and skills that the students have, I think we're missing the boat as teachers. I think we need to really make an effort to try and find things that will attract the students. When I heard last year about podcasting lessons, it was at the collegiate level, and they were really talking about lectures. That's not going to work in a high school setting, but a scavenger hunt will. You know, getting to actually go there, actually having to step outside the classroom to do the lesson. So I'm trying to meet them. I am learning as I go. You know, for me, it's good, too, I like being -- I like being on the cutting edge and trying new things. It stretches me as a teacher, and it really does provide the students with a different kind of experience.

Nichole Pinkard: The digital divide has always been about access. It's more than just, if -- can you have access to a computer, but do you have the people around you, the social structure around you that's going to enable you to make use of that. A statement I like to say often is that a rose doesn't grow from concrete, and you will very seldom see any kid who has done anything meaningful with digital media, that has developed this on their own. There's either, they have access to technical tools, they have access to mentors, they have access to activity structures that piqued an interest, and also enabled them to develop it. So I think the transformation we need to begin to make, in the digital divide conversation, is much more around participation. [inaudible] Jenkins talks a lot about participation gap, and then begin to understand what are the various different activity structures we need to put in place, that all kids will find some interest, or some way into developing a core set of skills around the use of new media.

Barry Joseph: This kind of medium is experiential. It's one thing to watch a movie. It's another thing to watch someone else play a game. You have to be in that game, you have to be the person creating it. And so if you're interested in this kind of medium, you have to put yourself in there, and if you're not comfortable going into that space, you have to ask yourself, what is it going to mean for you, as an educator, if that's going to be your relationship with the medium. So the number one step is just go in there, and if you don't have any children, find some young people, some friends with kids, and ask them to take you in, have them be your teacher, have them be the guide. And if you have kids, just be there with them. Watch what they're doing, ask them to give you a hand, see if you can try it out, and don't be worried about being embarrassed and about not knowing. We're not used to that, as adults, and often as educators, being the ones who are in the humble position of looking to young people for advice. But they are -- they are important resources for us.

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Video Credits

Produced and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Coordinating Producer

  • Lauren Rosenfeld

Production Support

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Production Assistant

  • Doug Keely

Senior Video Editor

  • Karen Sutherland


Machinima: A term derived from machine and cinema that refers to filmmaking created through the real-time recording of computer games, virtual worlds, or any already existing three-dimensional digital environment or virtual world.

Podcast: One of a series of digital media files, usually audio or video, made available for download via Web syndication.

Sources: Twinity.com, Wikipedia.org

Discussion Questions

1. What are some of the key skills students learn by working with digital media?

2. What are the biggest challenges to using digital media in schools?

3. Do you see kids struggling with multitasking? How can we help kids with this?

4. Do you believe there is a participation gap in our schools?

5. How can digital-media projects change how we teach?

Comments (1)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

AutismClassroom.com's picture

I run a website, but have trouble programming my cell phone!!! This is the truth, at this point, my 4 year old can operate the phone better that I can. I have to catch up and be on top of all of the technology before he gets into school.

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