The article Navigate the Digital Rapids by V. Davis and Lindsay speaks of the difficulties and successes of teaching digital citizenship to children in our schools. Specifically, the article speaks of the benefits of personalized digital tools and how it can benefit classroom learning.
I loved the idea of personalization in the classroom, as it is the counter-point to the idea of "splitting the difference." Recently during some of my classroom observations a teacher spoke to me about how teaching requires finding a middle road from the students and teaching at that level. While the concept is practical, it seems such a shame that teachers feel it must be done. I think that the personalization that digital tools offers allows the classroom environment to break past the average of the skills, abilities, and interests of students in any specific classroom. The article gives an example of a student who created an off-topic discussion about fate, and it gathered over 50 replies. The ability to personalize the lessons, including guided-navigation of non-related tangents, is a benefit of digital tools and illustrates that splitting the difference is not necessary. Splitting the difference involves taking a diverse student body, a rainbow of colors, and shooting for a lesson that is gray in color. It a way it saddened me to hear a teacher recommend teaching like that.
Here is a quote from the article that stuck me, "When should we begin educating students? As soon as they start using digital tools for communication, collaboration, and creation through connections online or offline. A kindergartener can use Skype in the classroom and learn about virtual communications. A 6-year-old can create a VoiceThread project and collaborate globally using images and sound. A 9-year-old can create a digital portfolio and invite peers globally to respond via the discussion tab. Digital citizenship awareness can begin as soon as tiny fingers tap the keys."
I love this quote because of the imagery it invokes for me. The digital environment, if tamed and smoothed by skilled instructors can be a gold mine of learning for students. I hope that the classroom described in the article is going to be the classroom of the future. Maybe, someday, the online course will evolve specific benefits that make them superior to in-class meeting. Certain industries will actually desire students that were brought up by digital education.
Article in APA Format:
Davis, V., & Lindsay, J. (2010, March/April). Navigate the Digital Rapids. Learning & Leading with Technology, 37(6), 12-15. Retrieved September 16, 2011 from http://www.iste.org/learn/publications/learning-and-leading/issues/Navigate_the_Digital_Rapids.aspx