Understanding Digital Kids

Ian Jukes did a great job in his Tuesday night workshop entitled Learning Environments For DKs: Education in the New Digital Landscape. A combination of many of the other presentations I had seen him give, his work is evolving toward an incredibly convincing argument (see his 90-page handout here - a must read for every teacher).

Since I last spoke with Ian (on Sunday), he has since been to West Virginia and back - having given three additional presentations. He began today's session by explaining that in the month of May, for example, he had traveled through 74 time zones.

Here are a few key points that Ian made tonight:

  • Change in education (unfortunately) comes painfully slowly. Take a person that has retired 10 years ago, ask them what has changed. What will he say? That everything has changed. Take that same person back to the high school they graduated from and what has changed? Nothing.
  • TTWADI - The "Excited States" now has the shortest school year in the world. Because that's the way we've always done it.
  • Kids today are changing, have changed: They speak DFL (Digital as a First Language). Researchers are beginning to tell us that the brains of our students are actually physiologically different than those of earlier generations because of digital bombardment.
  • Neuroplasticity - Brain capacity is malleable and changes throughout a lifetime.
  • Everything Bad Is Good For You, By Steven Johnson - Gaming can actually sharpen your mind. Video games can exercise your brain in much the same way that physical activity can exercise your body.
  • A Whole New Mind, By Daniel Pink - The creative, right-brained activities will be those most desirable in the 21st Century.
  • The Emerging Teen Brain, Scientific American (I've unsuccessfully searched for a link to the article) - fMRI scans are showing dramatic differences in the brains of people from different generations.
  • 87% of students across our country are visual/kinesthetic learners - and yet the majority of the things that our students are tested on are anything but visual/kinesthetic.
  • The new information that is introduced to students has to connect to a student's prior experience - or it will be quickly discarded.
  • Previous knowledge determines what/how/whether or not a student learns.
  • Our role as educators is to bring balance in the lives of our Digital Native students.
Unfortunately, I had to leave his workshop a little early (missing the "what do we do now?" part of the workshop: the very reason I wanted to attend in the first place). Maybe next time.

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