Archive for January 2012

Digital Natives and the Changing Landscape of Education with Technology

January 28, 2012

It’s funny how schedules and topics for classes seem to synchronize sometimes. It happened often with R690 and R711, and I find it happening (at least for this week) with R685 and the course I teach, W200.

The idea of Digital Natives is an interesting one: those whom have never known anything other than a technology-infused life. When I first came to IU, when I first started teaching technology integration, I was perhaps a little too accepting of this idea, as a rule rather than a way took look at students and youth today. This has changed a little bit, more of a focus as the idea of Digital Natives as a lens to observe and understand some students. One thing that has bothered me when reflecting on this idea is the assumption that all of today’s students are digital natives. Having worked in areas where technology was not always an integrated way of life, and the wide gambit of knowledge, experience, and understanding of technology, I do not know how convinced I am with this concept as being more “universal” as I had previously thought. Everyone who seems to talk about digital natives discusses them in a generational context – but, as with all things, there is more to the story: familial attitudes, socioeconomic status, region, interest…the list goes on.

That said, we must turn our eyes from “what has been” and “what is” towards “what will be,” as our job as teachers, educators, instructors, and mentors are to guide, facilitate, and encourage the growth of what are now considered “21st Century Skills.” Regardless of where our students live, their SES, interest level, and the other factors mentioned above, employers, institutions, and society are increasingly demanding these skills to be present.

Gone are the days where a worker would go into a factory or an office, build or check items on their own with little human interaction, or file paperwork and complete reports inside a lonely cubicle. Oh no, today’s workforce is much more than that! Employees are expected to be more social, to understand how to work in groups and teams effectively, everywhere, most (if not all) of the time.

My personal interest resides in the everywhere. When I say everywhere, I don’t just mean that one individual’s geolocation. Oh no, it is much more than that: they must be able to collaborate with others in other locations. Work and training can be conducted a half a world away, and still be done through the internet – video, voice, augmented reality, or in other ways. Let’s take this a step further, and add the ability to continuously change that persons location.

No, I don’t mean teleporting.

Training and education can be conducted during a commute to work or school via Mobile Devices. As noted in the 2011 Unleashing the Potential of Technology in Education : “The proliferation of mobile devices makes it easier for students to access digital content anytime and anywhere.”

This changes the game SIGNIFICANTLY. Traning can be conducted during the commute to work. Students can review material on the bus ride to or from school. Access is opened to all at all times.

But back to skills.

Perhaps I take these skills for granted: the ability to work collaboratively with others (in person and across distances), the ability to find appropriate resources, the networking skills to create that personal knowledge base and access to experts, technology skills, modeling skills, etc. Part of this is from my own interest in technology, experience playing with (and subsequently freaking out when breaking and finding ways to fix) technology, and my teacher training. Part of it may be because I am what some would consider a digital native.  I find myself realizing that some students today do have, and others have not yet, developed fully the skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century.

To these issues, it seems that the “Unleashing the Future: Educators Speak Up about the Use of Emerging Technologies for Learning.” (May 2010) article by Project Tomorrow (  hits the nail on the head for how teachers can best aid in preparing the students for their future. This report outlines three simple (not really so simple) ideas on how to do this:

  • Social-based learning
  • Untethered learning
  • Digitally-rich learning
By including these three types of learning throughout their curriculum, teachers can best assist students in securing these 21st century skills that will become so critical to their success.


I think in the future I may try my hand at a video-blog post. That may be more interesting (and fun to try) than just typing all of the information (and rambling with typing).


Being a Good, Sharing Citizen

January 21, 2012

When I was a TA in a Kindergarten classroom a few years ago, I recall the teacher reminding the students to “share with their friends and be good citizens.” Interestingly enough, it seems that this attitude is finally filtering in through to the information age. This idea of sharing information has exploded within the last decade, as access to the internet and new, novel ways of sharing information, thoughts, opinions, and ideas have become available, particularly through “Web 2.0” technology.

Today, this sharing of information has become almost a given. To evidence this, all you have to do is look at the SOPA/PIPA protests of Janurary 18, 2012. The Wikipedia blackout in particular caused a stir with many used to reading and contributing to one of the largest databases of information, and prompted millions of e-mails, phone calls, and letters to be sent to representatives in the US House of Representatives and US Senate to move against these two pieces of legislation.

Which brings up the issue of copyright, as discussed by Dr. Bonk in his Prequel. Admittedly, I have some sort of sick, twisted interest in how copyright law affects technology, and how technology affects (and usually, challenges) copyright law. The world changes much, much faster than laws ever could. The above legislation is only one of many attempts of Law to respond to these societal changes. Unfortunately, law is reactionary and steeped in tradition: though society changes and the attitudes of the people shift in one direction, law seems to  stay on its conservative course, based on what worked years (or decades, or even a century) ago.

Creative Commons and Fair Use are two ways that those who want to share knowledge can move around copyright law, provided that they follow the strict tenants of Fair Use (which some consider to be under attack by current legislation), or the requirements for Creative Commons (based on how the creator wants to be cited/attributed). It is always interesting to explore the ins-and-outs of Fair Use and Creative Commons (and how unclear Copyright Law and Fair Use really are in practice) – evident in court cases, and when explaining it to my W200 Technology Integration class.

Regardless, this isn’t a blog about Copyright law. Maybe another time!

Long story short: Technology has increased the ease of sharing information, particularly through Web 2.0 technology, as suggested in Dr. Bonk’s Prequel. There seems to be a developing expectation that information should be freely available for general consumption and use, and when this access is taken away, discontent begins to reign.

It is my opinion that some information should be freely accessible by the general public, and that the discussion of ideas and problems, particularly in this day and age, are becoming part of being a good, global citizen.

So be a Good, Sharing Citizen. Promote the sharing of ideas and information. Allow everyone in on the discussion.

Opening up to WordPress

January 15, 2012

I’ll begin with a caveat: I am terrible blogging. I have tried.  I just never got the hang of it, though hopefully the 547th time’s the charm.

A second caveat: This blog is (initially, anyway) is intended to fulfill the requirements of R685 (The World is Open) course taught by Dr. Curt Bonk at Indiana University.


A little background about me: I am currently a Ph.D. student at Indiana University, studying Instructional Systems Technology. Truly, my interests lie (currently) in teacher preparation and technology, and in mobile/ubiquitous learning. I also enjoy dabbling in games, and though I am reluctant to admit it, design. Before moving to Indiana, I attended SUNY Potsdam in NY, where I studied History (undergraduate level), Secondary Social Studies Education (Masters level), and Educational Technology (Masters level).