8.27.2011

Teaching who?

So there's been a lot of talk lately about this generation that we are teaching. They are "digital natives", "generation next", the "millenials". I get that, these students have generally always had the internet around to use, and that may have a significant impact on the way that they see the world. I see that as a generally positive thing. It's not like I don't still see students who struggle to use a computer or don't have access to one at home though. But now the expectation is that we will use technology extensively in class. I myself came from the much maligned generation X. I remember when computers first were becoming popular. I have a slightly unique memory of this simply because my dad was a programmer back when programmers first appeared on the scene. So we always had some sort of computer from the clunky to the sleek, for as far back as I can remember. My dad even taught us simple programming languages as kids. I wish that I had paid more attention to that, since it's now becoming clear that someday programming may be a skill with possibly as much importance as reading. (yes, I actually do mean that)

Anyway, my point was that although I may have a fairly sophisticated appreciation for technology, I consider myself a lucky member of the generation to have seen its explosion. From vinyl to tapes to cds to digital. From floppy disks to cds to flash drives to the cloud. I grew up with the changes in technology, and as they changed so did I. So when these folks who are maybe even just a decade older than me - maybe more, seem flummoxed by how to approach this digital native generation, I don't feel quite as intimidated. Although it took some time, I've successfully moved from taking notes with a pencil and paper to typing and I read articles on the computer. I use the internet as a reference material more often than books, and I don't feel the need to go to the library as much as I used to. There was a time I honestly thought that none of these would ever happen. I couldn't imagine trading in my legal pad for an ipad. But I can now. And I think that flexibility is what separates my generation from both previous and forthcoming generations.

So all that said, I'm excited to explore the use of different technologies for teaching my students. BUT, I'm also going to strictly adhere to the idea of pedagogy first, then find the technology that fits. Jamming as much technology into a class as possible isn't going to be fun or useful for any of the parties involved.

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