In Rm. 202, Everyone’s in the Geek Squad!

One thing I love about learning how to use iPads–or anything that is new to most kids in the room– is that we figure things out together!  Sometimes this happens when I teach a new skill, and sometimes it happens when even I don’t know what to do and I simply say, “Let’s figure out how to do….”  Either way, someone becomes the expert and then shares that knowledge with a friend.  Then we all become experts!

It goes right along with the saying we have in Rm. 202–that we are all teachers and we are all learners–and it makes my teacher-heart happy!

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I think my favorite story yet came the other day when I had to step back, get out of teh way and let my firsties do what they know how to do.  Here’s what happened:  we were learning to use Popplet and Diego wanted to put a picture into one of the popples (the circle parts of the web) he was making, but every time he tried, the screen on his camera came up black.  As I walked by and he was trying to figure out what ot do about it, I saw him get into the settings on his iPad and start to tinker.  Now, mostly because I’ve been working with 10-11 YOs for so many years and I know the havoc that can be wreaked when kids are in the settings on their devices, I had red flags coming up when I saw this.  I asked him what he was doing, he said, “Well I remember one time this happened with another app and it was because the app didn’t have permission to use the camera.  I wonder if that’s the problem this time.”  Then he proceeded to find the settings for Popplet and indeed, the app did not have the right settings to use the camera!

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WOW–talk about transferring knowledge!!  I had to apologize for my jumping to conclusions, and congratulate him for knowing what to do.  And of course, when 4 more people had that same problem during our work time, he was the expert I sent them to!  WAY TO GO, DIEGO!!  And the best part of this all?  The stories I could tell like this one keep happening every day!  We’re learning many things that we will use for many, many years to come. 🙂

EDUC 573: Week 3–Digital Imminatives?

We’re almost halfway there! Week 4 is next week and I am continually amazed at all the things we can cram into a week of learning. 🙂

This week’s topic was Web 2.0–what it is, how we use it and why that’s important to ourselves and our learners.

I have to be honest that until last year, I hadn’t ever even really heard the term “web 2.0” and until just the other day, I hadn’t really thought much about what it meant.  I think I get it now that it’s the way the internet is no longer a “read only” experience, but is instead a place of co-learning, co-teaching, co-llaboration (hee hee).  Where once you could just look at a website, now you can be a partner in creating it.  Perhaps my favorite part of the whole Web 2.0 movement is how most everything you (I) need is always at my fingertips, regardless of whether or not I’m at my own computer.  Because of applications like Dropbox and Evernote, or numerous other web-based programs, I can work whenever, wherever I want or need to.  (But then, I must stop for a second and admit that while I like this feature, it’s probably not all positive.  There are definitely times and places I should NOT be working, but choose to anyway because I can.  This is definitely something I need to work on. 🙂 ).

I really enjoyed this week’s work, but much of that could have been because it was a topic I already knew much about.  As we were asked to explain a variety of Web 2.0 tools, I was able to easily think about how I’d implement them in my classroom because I’m already doing that!  The great part, though, is reading all of the thinking of my classmates regarding Web 2.0 and learning how I could use them differently.  What else could I do with something with which I am already familiar?

Now on to the explanation about the title (I know you were wondering what in the world I was doing with that!).  The article we focused on last week (and then reflected on this week) was Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants by Marc Prensky (2001).  While I’ve read this article before, and even used it as a reference in a paper I wrote last semester, of course reading it again and thinking about it in a different time and context made me consider different things than I did previously.

As a part of the course, we’re supposed to choose a quote from the article and respond to it.  I could have easily chosen the whole article, as Prensky makes numerous valid points, but alas I chose just one.  Ok, I chose two:

It’s just dumb (and lazy) of educators – not to mention ineffective – to presume that (despite their traditions) the Digital Immigrant way is the only way to teach, and that the Digital Natives’ “language” is not as capable as their own of encompassing any and every idea.

I think what really struck me about these words are that I want to be sure to do everything in my power not to be that Digital Immigrant teacher!  I like to think I am a trailblazer, that I try new things even when I am not sure of the outcome because I think they will help my students learn.  I like to think that I trust my students, that often they are teaching me more than I am them.  And so it’s my job then, right, to help the Digital Immigrants see that there is a better way.  Just like with any new learning, it may not be quick and it may not be easy, but in the end it will be good.

And so this article also led me to another question:  Is there a name for someone who is both a Digital Immigrant and a Digital Native?  I consider myself to be somewhere in the middle.  This part got me thinking:

Digital Immigrants don’t believe their students can learn successfully while watching TV or listening to music, because they (the Immigrants) can’t. Of course not – they didn’t practice this skill constantly for all of their formative years. Digital Immigrants think learning can’t (or shouldn’t) be fun. Why should they – they didn’t spend their formative years learning with Sesame Street.

So like I said, I am somewhat of an Immigrant just because of my age, but that definition doesn’t ring true at all with how I think/believe/feel about myself, my students or learning in general.  I do think learning can and should be fun, I did spend my formative years learning with Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers and the Electric Company, and I am a MASTER at multi-tasking (i.e. learning while watching TV and/or listening to music–I’m doing it right now, actually).  Perhaps its like with any definition or rule, there’s always an exception.  And in this case, an exception is what I long to be.  🙂

So what do you think about the digital natives, digital immigrants and Web 2.0?  Which are you?  How does knowing about digital natives impact the way you teach and the way your students learn?  I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. 🙂