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,” (  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,

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. 





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

Writing and Literacy Instruction. Retrieved online from: newhorizons /strategies/topics/literacy/articles/online-fanfiction/

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

               Online from:

Fan Fiction. Retrieved online from:

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

               [On-line] Retrieved May 20, 2014 from:


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

               McGraw Hill Professional Publishing: New York, New York.



6 thoughts on “Societies Desire for Choice, Change, and Creativity

  1. I too liked reading about Fan Fiction. I didn’t know that it was called that, but what a great way to get students writing and sharing with each other. As I read about it I was wondering about the copyright issues, but I thought it would be neat to use to also teach about copyright policies/laws. One idea I had was creating a class blog, so it is only shared with the students/parents from our class, and having students write Fan Fiction stories based on stories they are reading in class.

    • Alison, I think that sounds like a great idea. I was initially super excited about fan fiction as well. As I read it about it, I was also concerned with copyright laws. (Funny how teachers think). Anyways, I think this would be a great way to get students collaborating outside of class. I like the idea of encouraging students to write about something that interests them. I think it would be neat if students were able to pick books to read for class, and then at the conclusion of the book write another chapter or a different ending to the book online (possibly in a blog format as you mentioned or even as something similar to a wiki). It may even be as easy as having the students share a Google Document and just make changes as they go along.

  2. I’m glad you mentioned that it’s important to unplug from time to time. Next time you’re at home and feeling overly inundated with technology, pull up the following website and then get ready to shut a few things off.

    When I get overly busy, I find myself constantly checking my phone or my email to make sure I stay on top of everything. I also get irritated when I don’t get a response back from people quickly enough. When I finally get a chance to slow down, I keep asking myself why I put so much energy into keeping connected. Thankfully, I am getting better at leaving the cell phone in my pocket or simply shutting it off from time to time. At school, when my iPad dings because of an incoming message, my students are amazed that I don’t check it until we’re done with class. When I’m talking face to face with someone, I make it a point to ignore any messages or phone calls until our conversation is done. To me, that’s just polite etiquette. It seems as though this attitude is a rarity nowadays. If the person I’m talking to gets a call while we’re talking and they pull their phone out to answer it, I typically tell them to come find me when they’re done and I turn and walk away. (I’m not sure that’s the best way to handle it but a lot of people do shut down their phones and finish their conversations with me before dealing with their phone calls.) I find it interesting when I am at a restaurant and I look around at the number of couples or families that barely speak a word to each other because they are completely engrossed in their cellphones. I remember watching one couple come in, place their order, then proceed to use their phones for the remainder of the time they were in the restaurant. They spoke less than 5 words to each other during the hour they sat there. I couldn’t help to think how sad that was. I am a huge fan of technology and I love seeing the creative ways our kids use it. I especially enjoy it when kids teach me or show me things they’ve discovered. There is a feeling of pride when a student can teach the teacher. I also enjoy it when there is nothing electronic vying for my attention.

    • Scott, I have seen this far too many times as well. Our kids were initially angry with us when they were told they couldn’t bring their different devices to dinner when we go out. Once they understood we were not going to “give in” they gave up asking. I think our children also understand why we enjoy going out as a family. We enjoy spending time together even if it means someone spills his milk (my son) or a certain 5 year old has to use the restroom in the middle of dinner. This is all part of the fun and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      The article you shared was great! Did you check out the different activities she suggested doing during the summer? One was painting with pudding! Yikes! I am just not sure I could embrace this one. Finger painting does sound like fun, though. It seems when we were kids summer was all about being outside. I understand that kids want to be online now and am fine with some time spent online, but as Eileen Fisher pointed out 30 minutes easily turns into “1, 2, and even 3 hours. That’s way too much,” (Fisher, Eileen).

      Last night I spent some time outside with my children while my husband finished building our fence. I was pushing our youngest as she learned how to ride her bike. At one point I rode her bike and screamed, “Hey you guys! Wait for me.” (Sounded just like “Goonies”). My son and daughter were a little embarrassed until one of my son’s friends said, “Is that your mom?” He was like, yeah it is. At which point the little boy said, “I want to be your brother.” It was super cute. He really enjoyed that I was out playing with my kids and being silly. I think this is all part of “unplugging”.

  3. Your point about speed resonated with me. I struggle to find a balance with speed myself. I expect instant replies on everything I do but sometimes I feel this is part of my personality too and not solely related to my Net Gen factor. I bend over backwards for my students when it comes to communication outside school and make myself available almost 24/7 if possible (when I’m not asleep). Although my students are only 7th graders, I feel my influence on building their educational responsibilities is important at this age level. They rarely take the initiative on their own to email me a question about homework, assignments, deadlines, or problems they want me to work out for their math homework without getting their parents involved in the communication. So when they actually do email, I jump at the opportunity to correspond back as if I’m sending them the message “I’m always here to help day or night”. I especially want those students who email for the first time to have a positive experience in getting immediate feedback to keep them coming back for more. I often wonder what I’m getting myself into! Outside my professional career, I have little expectations when it comes to speed. I wait for a little bit and then will forget about it.

    • Nicole, I also feel like requiring a prompt reply is just part of how I am wired. I always try to give 110% of myself to whatever I am pursuing, so when others don’t feel the same way I find it frustrating. My experience has been mostly teaching primary grades so I have not had a student email me. If I did I would most certainly reply right away. I agree that you want your students to have a great first experience when it comes to technology. This may also be a good time to discuss digital citizenship.

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