Societies Desire for Choice, Change, and Creativity

The reading for this week’s discussion really made me think about my own experience and my children’s experience with technology.  I can relate to Tapscott who discusses how he “just want(s) it to work” (referring to whatever technology he is using) (Grown up Digital, 78).  When my husband purchased a new laptop so I could work on grad school, I just wanted a laptop that could do “the job”; he, on the other hand, chose one for me that had a bunch of “bells and whistles”.  I use my laptop to work on stuff for school, search the web, post on Facebook, and even watch Netflix.  However, my son enjoys rearranging my desktop, changing my background, making videos, taking pictures, etc.; he wants to be creative and customize my laptop.  (Tapscott, 78-79).  My son loves any opportunity to change things and be creative.

Whereas I don’t necessarily need to personalize my devices, I do find myself requiring “speed”.  Tapscott discusses how many of us may want to “disconnect” however we are afraid we might miss something important (93).  The need for speed is definitely something our society has come to expect.  I find myself growing increasingly frustrated when people do not reply to my emails, texts, or Facebook messages in a timely fashion.  I have one friend in particular who has encouraged me to put down my phone and/or computer.  She only replies to texts or messages when she is truly available to do so.  So, if she is at the park with her kids, she does not reply.  Or, if she is having a conversation with her husband, she does not reply.  I think many of us can learn from this.  Being able to unplug from technology is very important.  So, while we expect speed we should also give others the chance to enjoy life and not expect instant replies.  This is something we can teach our students and children as well. 

We can teach our students and children about many things in regards to fostering their creativity.  As I mentioned, my son really enjoys being able to personalize his devices, but how can we move this creativity into the classroom?  In Born Digital, Palfrey talks about different opportunities online where children can build on already existing written works, also known as fan fiction.  Fan fiction, “is a broadly defined fan labor term for stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator,” (Wikipedia.org).  Fan fiction has existed for years in the form of print.  Students have been asked to continue a story or write a different ending to a story when I was in elementary school.  Today, students are doing this online in a very public format.  The children/teenagers (even adults) are able to collaborate with fellow writers on different stories.  While there is a risk of copyright infringement, building on stories is a great way to get students writing.  Also, as students post their fan fiction online their works can be immediately evaluated and commented on. “The online medium of fanfiction allows for immediate response from and interactive discussion with a diverse group of peer-reviewers,” (Black).  Fan fiction is one way students can improve literacy while creating and collaborating online.

 

Another way to foster creativity is to let our children and students play MMOG’s like World of Warcraft; these games allow the players to create the game as they go.  I will be the first to admit that I do not necessarily buy into the idea that games of this nature are truly educational.  Still, I do see how these games can be creative outlets for our students as Palfrey discusses in Born Digital.  Additionally, others would argue that MMOG’s like World of Warcraft can offer students the opportunity to collaborate, create, focus on literacy, and teachers can differentiate instruction (Dunn, Edudemic.com).

The internet is making it possible for students to create anything from original movies or photos to “mash ups” of different songs created by a number of authors.  Our role as educators should be to encourage children to use technology to help them be creative while giving our student the choice to express themselves in a way that helps them learn best. 

 

 

 

Resources:

Black, Rebecca. (2012). Online Fanfiction: What Technology and Popular Culture Can Teach Us About

Writing and Literacy Instruction. Retrieved online from: http://education.jhu.edu/PD/ newhorizons /strategies/topics/literacy/articles/online-fanfiction/

Dunn, Jeff. (2012). 4 Ways to Use Massively Multiplayer Online Games In The Classroom. Retrieved

               Online from: http://www.edudemic.com/mmorpg-classroom/

Fan Fiction. Retrieved online from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_fiction

Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives.

               [On-line] Retrieved May 20, 2014 from:   http://site.ebrary.com/id/10392430?ppg=8

 

Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.

               McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.

 

Video

Growing Up in Today’s Digital Society

I found many of the points discussed in this week’s reading to be interesting so I picked two to discuss.  The first point mentioned was about collaboration and how learning is different in the digital age.

Tapscott discusses collaboration on page 18 in his book Grown Up Digitial.  He states, “The new Web is a communications medium that enables people to create their own content, collaborate with others, and build communities,” (18, 2008).  In today’s digital age people are able to collaborate by using sites such as Wiki. A wiki allows the user(s) to read and change content “in collaboration with others” on just about any given topic (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki/). People can also build communities by playing games such as Minecraft and World of Warcraft.  Games like Minecraft can actually teach students digital citizenship by helping students work together in online settings.  Palfrey and Gasser (2008), discuss how digital citizenship is so important to teach our students.  Imagine engaging our students in games such as Minecraft to help them learn how to be behave and communicate safely on the internet.  Actually using the internet is much more engaging than simply discussing how one should behave on the internet.

I found this quick YouTube video that briefly describes how Minecraft can be used in the classroom.

 

A second point Tapscott explains is how many Net Gen children are not willing to simply accept what they are given.  Net Geners “are the active initiators, collaborators, organizers, readers, writers, authenticators…,” (21, 2008).  Net Geners “inquire, discuss, argue, play, shop, critique, investigate, ridicule, fantasize, seek, and inform,” (Tapscott, 2008).  I can recall on several different occasions when a student might ask a teacher a question where he/she did not have an answer for the students.  In the past, students would return the next day and the teacher would provide the answer to whatever question was asked.  In today’s digital world, teachers no longer need to seek out these answers because their students’ are doing it for them.  Students today, enjoy searching on the internet and finding answers to their questions.

On the flip side, a common argument for this would be that, “They’re [kids are] dumber than we were at their age,” (Tapscott, p. 3, 2008).  Some people say things like, “They don’t read and are poor communicators,” (Bly, Robert as cited in Tapscott, 2008).  Many parents and even employers would agree with this statement.  In my personal experience, I see families who go out to dinner and rather than communicate with one another they are each on a tablet, pc, or cell phone while they wait for their meal to arrive.  Mark Bauerlein and Harpaz “worry that kids who can look up instructions on the internet or their cell phones won’t learn how to “figure things out or solve problems,”” (as cited by Joyner, James 2010).  Some people would argue that when students are faced with difficult problems that require critical thinking, students often given up and look for “cheats” or answers on the internet.  These are just a few examples of why some people feel children are “dumber than we were at their age”.

Here again one could argue the other way as well; I have spent time playing Minecraft with my children while they designed and built playgrounds for a STEM lesson.  My children did an excellent job designing and constructing the playgrounds; they learned a great deal about the engineering process and had fun doing it.  So, does “going digital” really mean our children have to be “dumber”?  I don’t think so, however it seems clear that too much technology can have a negative impact on how we interact with other people.  While technology can serve as a medium for communication and collaboration there is still great value in face-to-face communication.

 

 

Resources:

Tapscott, Donn. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your        World.  McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.

 

“Wiki” Retrieved Online from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

 

Using Minecraft as an Educational Tool. (2013). Retrived online May 20, 2014 from

http://www.edutopia.org/made-with-play-game-based-learning-minecraft-video

 

Palfrey, John and Gasser, Urs. (2008). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation     of Digital Natives.   [On-line] Retrieved May 20, 2014 from:           http://site.ebrary.com/id/10392430?ppg=8

 

Joyner, James. (2010). The Dumbest Generation: Does Technology Make Kids Dumb? Retrieved Online

May 20, 2014 from: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/the-dumbest-generation-does-technology-make-kids-dumb/