How do we interact with the digital world?

So I have started to read “The Digital Principal” and have enjoyed the first three paragraphs.  Yes, I have only read the first page, but I came across a thought in those first few lines that caused me to think about something differently, which lead me here.

The book is written by Janet Hughes and Anne Burke, and can be purchased from Pembroke Publishers.  I hope I am not breaking any copyright laws I am unaware of when I write the following quote:

“a few short years ago, the Internet was primarily a source of information delivered to the user in one direction.  Now anyone can contribute to the content found online.”  Hughes, Janette, Burke, Anne M., The Digital Principal.

While it is early in the book, (literally page one), the thought struck me.  I wrote a blog awhile ago about producing versus consuming, which I know I do in disproportionate levels, but this to me is just a bit more.  It is not so much a responsibility to post as well as read, in order to be fair, but the realization that our new paradigm (and I greatly dislike the overuse of that word) is exactly that.  Our kids, when they are obsessively using their tablets/phones/iPods, they are not googling the weather, nor are they checking the references listed in Wikipedia.  As a matter of fact, I am still amazed that these “digital natives” are sometimes so woefully ignorant of the world around them, despite their access to it.  I live in a world that is wintery and winter storms are not uncommon.  I still hear kids say to me:  “I heard there is a big storm coming this weekend!  30 CM of snow!”.  So, I respond with:  “look on the weather network, with your phone”.  More often than not, there is no storm.

When kids are using their devices, they are interacting with their world, not ours.  They are producing, even if that production is a text to a friend, it is the use that is important.  They are not as good as we are at accessing info someone else put out there, but they are much better at producing stuff, even if that stuff is only a Flipgram collage, or a Snapchat Story.  Yes, I am soon to be 47 and I know what these platforms are….sort of!

This is what our education system and essentially our entire culture has to figure out, and next exploit.  We have to see that our kids, and our younger teachers, (and some “older” ones) are also living in this world.  It is a completely new way to use the internet and the digital world, and it is much more of a two way relationship, versus a one way.  While I never thought of it before, it explains perfectly well, the growth of Youtube in the last several years.  47 year old people use Youtube to look up Billy Idol videos….15 year old people use Youtube for those purposes (Lady Gaga versus Billy Idol) but they also produce.  They make vines, and instagram videos, they contribute, even if this stuffy old history teacher does not consider what they produce to be terribly important, it is important to them.  That is a major change that we have to overcome, because it is not going away.

So, as usual, I leave more questions behind than answers. Once again, I am great at posing a question using a digital tool, but I am not producing an answer am I?  Nope, relying on the good old internet to do that for me!

So, the question is, how does this change our dynamics as teachers?  How do we leverage this new relationship our students (and again I reiterate, young teachers) have with the digital word?  I am hoping Ms. Hughes and Burke have some answers for me, but again, that is the wrong paradigm, isn’t it?  I need to be part of this huge collaborative effort to find some answers, which maybe I will be able to do a bit, after reading the book.

And, by the way, for those of you still rolling on the floor, Billy Idol has a brand new CD, and it is an instant classic, full of typically overstated cliche and wicked guitar riffs……just so you know I am not entirely stuck in the 80’s!

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