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Greg's thoughts on education and technology (and anything else that comes to mind)

Students and Their Technology: If you can't beat em'...

I have two kids in public school: an elementary schooler and a middle schooler. They both keep up on their homework, do well with standardized testing, consistently receive high marks, and hate school. Before attending a master's program in educational technology, I viewed the grumblings of dissatisfaction as peer-induced. My kids have caring, supportive teachers. They stay on top of their work. What could be so bad? I'm starting to see that it's not so much peer pressure from low-performing, school-despising friends. What's missing from school is that kids don't feel engaged.

When I attended Catholic grade school in the '60s, my nun-teachers didn't need to be engaging--they had a ruler in hand to keep us attentive. When I left school, I had mild, not-so-engaging distractions such as parents, siblings, and neighborhood bullies. I also had one major, engaging distractor: the TV. Aside from Church activity and family vacations, the family TV served as our primary form of entertainment. As such, it wasn't so hard for my parents to control my exposure to it.

Today's middle-class kid isn't so sheltered. Technology is ubiquitous, except at school. My kids are subject to constant exposure to technology and media. The modern capitalism we've all grown to both love and hate has served as a perfect petrie dish for the growth of technology and media. With media comes marketing; the pair pack a one-two punch of engagement that staggers its contenders. Throw in the ability to communicate and anytime, anywhere access and... you get where I'm going. It's no wonder my kids feel disengaged at school. I feel lucky they don't fake they're sick so they can stay home.

A good friend and colleague sent me a link to a YouTube video that was created by Utah's Jordan School District. It builds a strong case for using the technology that students embrace to help engage them in school:

Published Apr 17 2007, 04:59 PM by ghinshaw
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