Digital Learning as Digital Citizens

Net Gen Geek Loves Connectivity
Net Gen Geek Loves Connectivity

A debate brews today on digital learning, with many honored people sharing varied views on the convergence of technology with teaching and learning given the plethora of exciting resources available to and plucked up by kids.

I think we tip on the edge of a revolution, and I see both sides of the debate:

http://grownupdigital.com/ Don Tapscott — Suggests in part that digital natives demand participatory web; prefer text and image with lots of choice

http://netgennonsense.blogspot.com/ Mark Bullen — Asks: Is it generational? Are these valid traits?

As a geeky grandmother, my grandkids and I identify with many of Tapscott’s “digital natives;” We want participation, not passivity. We love learning with others and from others with the ability to find those others all over the world, although my grandkids simply connect mostly with those important peers around them, and maintaining those connections if the friend moves far away.

In my classroom of Title 1 students, access determines the traits. Once I started technology-infused lessons, students now prefer the interactivity and choice as well as the connections and sharing with other peers and teachers across the continent. As soon as they obtain cell phones, etc. they become the netgenners, but availability to connectivity is key.

Access and exposure builds the attributes and expectations, not necessarily the generational component.

The important issue is twofold: 1) that all of us can acquire access and 2) that educators fully engage students in responsible and ethical participation through authentic connections.

Once students encounter the power of networked participation and choice, they will demand it. Our connected world depends on our ability to wisely participate as global citizens in this fantastic resource.

But which kids will be connected? And schools (with or without walls) are the focal point from which the critical, creative, and ethical application of these tools will reach the most net citizens.

What do you think?

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