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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

June 4 Webinar: "Engaging the Digital Generation: Insights from Kids, Teachers, and Parents"

Related Tags: Teacher Development

Today's students use digital media in ways hardly imaginable just a few years ago, revolutionizing how kids create, collaborate, and teach one another, and Edutopia is continuously investigating the impact of this revolution on teaching and learning in public education.

On June 4, 2009, a stimulating discussion took place with innovative educators and students interviewed as part of Edutopia's Digital Generation Project, and they shared practical tools and strategies for engaging the digital learner. Below, continue the discussion by asking questions of a couple of the experts who contributed to the project, or just join in the conversation.

Webinar Resources

About the Host

Amy Erin Borovoy

Amy Erin Borovoy is coordinating producer for Edutopia video. Prior to joining The George Lucas Educational Foundation in 2005, she spent several years line producing television specials for the History Channel. Her experience also includes serving as a freelance associate producer on a number of educational television pilots and working on a media-literacy project for the KQED Center for Education and Lifelong Learning.

About the Presenters

Nichole Pinkard

Nichole Pinkard is founder of the Digital Youth Network and director of innovation for the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute, where she plays a leading role in the UEI's engagement in creating optimal learning environments that span school, home, and community.

Scoop Jackson, parent

Pinkard is joined by Scoop Jackson, a sports journalist and the father of Jalen, one of the kids profiled in Edutopia's Digital Generation Project.

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a teacher and the information technology director at the Westwood Schools, in Camilla, Georgia. She is co-creator of four global collaborative projects, including the Flat Classroom Project, winner of the International Society for Technology in Education's 2007 SIGTel Online Learning Award. Davis blogs at The Cool Cat Teacher Blog, winner of the 2008 Edublog Award for Best Teacher Blog.

Virginia, student

Davis will be joined by Virginia, a student in her ninth-grade class who is profiled in Edutopia's Digital Generation Project.

Comments (54)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Vicki Davis's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

That is the beauty of this - it is not difficult at all to measure individual contribution - it is easy.

Wikis track down to the comma what each student does. When we create videos - every student creates a video. On the Ning, every student has their own idea. Now we have 100% participation on projects whereas before students would sit back and let those more hard working students do it all! I can track and hold accountable students and even catch plagiarism more easily -- look into wikis - you'll see that there is no anonymity there and that you can see exactly who contributes!

Vicki Davis's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Help them get connected with an igoogle page or on twitter, or just tapped in and connected to some educational network for them - Edutopia is a great resource. You cannot do it all, but I think we should move towards a professional development model that is embedded vs. this binge pd model of doing it all at once.

scoop's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

As a parent watching this process unfold with my son, I can say that there are forms, albeit small, of technology that can be used. Cell phones have games on them, if there's a computer in the home, then use it as a resorce of learning and not just another form of communication, if there's a gaming system or a cd player or vcr player, use, rent or buy things that challenge them to do more. Like I said earlire, the thing is to ask them in any form of the use of something: Do you think you can make this better? If they are interested in it, then there's a chance they will answer yes. And that interest, that initial interest, can be the jump off or tipping point of what you can do to build the technology base in the home. yes, money can be an issue. But if the child expresses or displays an interest then certain aesthectic sacrifices have to and will begin to be made.


Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

Staff comment:

This is a really great discussion and some great questions being raised here. I know the presenters did answer some of these; others they didn't get to, and/or are more open-ended. I encourage all of us who care about these issues to jump in and brainstorm. Let's keep the conversation going here!

Betty Ray
Community Manager

Chris King's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Are there any classes or workshops offered to the parents to catch them up on what is happening and how to use the technology?

Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

Staff Comment:

Hi Chris -

I will let some of the others comment on classes or workshops for parents, but I wanted to put it out there that soon we'll be creating a discussion group for digital generation parents to share info and support each other. I will drop you a note when it's launched. If anyone else is interested in an discussion group like this, drop me a note at community@edutopia.org.

betty ray
Community Manager

Lauren Rosenfeld's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Staff Comment:

Hi Chris,

Common Sense Media is a wonderful resource for parents. Taking a cue from Cameron, who is profiled in the Digital Generation Project, YouTube tutorials can be very helpful for learning how to use specific tech tools. And one of the best ways for parents to learn how to use new digital media tools is for them to ask their kids to teach them!

Lauren Rosenfeld
Coordinating Producer, Edutopia Digital Generation Project

Carolyn Stanley's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

When I first started at my middle school, I taught technology skills in "rounds" classes to all 7th graders and 2 sections of 9th. I was also to use integration in the 8th grade classes, but with my schedule so tied up, that seldom happened.
When our 9th graders went to the high school, I was freed up to concentrate on technology integration. All of our lessons are integrally tied into curricular projects. For example, students come into the lab as 7th graders knowing very little about Excel. We do a "By Golly By Gum" spreadsheet activity with them to graphically represent the findings of their science lab where they measure the mass of several different flavors of bubble gum before chewing and after chewing. In the spreadsheet exercise, they enter the data, use formulas to determine the difference between the mass in grams of the unchewed and chewed gum. We then use another formula to calculate the percent of sugar. We then create logical graphs representing the data and format them. During the activity the kids learn all sorts of skills in using spreadsheets to crunch data. I really believe this is the best way to introduce kids to using the tools available to them. Learning about what spreadsheets can do (even though this is a very elementary assignment, it was new to most of them) within the context of a class assignment is far more meaningful, in my estimation, than skills taught in isolation. (Usually, the kids come in with the subject teacher, and I get to see the entire team. The teachers allow me some time at the start of the project to go over the essential skills in the application that will be needed. Of course, the teachers take over as they become masters at using the chosen application, and I fade back into the support and facilitate role)

This is just one example.The kids do many curricular projects using Word, PowerPoint, Windows Movie Maker, PhotoStory3, etc. to complete projects.

We also have been using Web 2.0 tools, and again, kids are using them to fulfill a particular curricular class assignment. For example, when our 8th graders were learning about early American cultures, groups worked together to build web pages, each group covering one aspect of a particular culture. These were all amassed in a teacher-created web page for the topic in general. We used Google sites, and the student enjoyed being able to read and comment on each other's pages. Google sites is Google's answere to a wiki.

Sometimes, we let the kids go and give them a choice of what technologies they want to use, even if we are not particularly versed in them. Teachers provide the structure and rubric for what they expect for content to be embedded in the project, and the kids get freedom to choose what ever vehicle they want for delivery.

So, I have to say that I personally feel more satisfied with the integrated approach to separate technology classes.

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