Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Does the iGeneration Mean for Teaching?

Tech-Savvy 'iGeneration' Kids Multi-Task, Connect posted in USA Today offers viewpoints on the effects of social networking on children of today. Although research has largely focused on the multi-tasking skills of preteens and teens, researchers are now looking at how those under 10 are responding to the variety of technological media surrounding them and how this environment will affect how they develop and will be motivated to learn in school.

A 12-year old from West Hartford, CT is quoted, reminding us of the frequency with which people her age post videos on Facebook via webcams. Another youngster of 3 is described as having "a collection of nine cellphones; four are the non-working cast-offs of family members, and the others are plastic, including Cinderella, Tinker Bell and Dora the Explorer. She also has a plastic pink-and-purple Barbie laptop, which has its own mouse and programs that teach math, vowels and Spanish, as well as some computer games."

What is your response to the research findings and reports cited in the article? What do you see as the implications for teachers as the newer generations progress through school?

Photo is from the article with the byline and note:
By Joe Brier, for USA TODAY
Heather Nokes, 18, watches as her 3-year-old sister Kaci, 3, uses a Barbi Learning Laptop for math and spelling practice, while Wendy, 13, holds her cellphone in their Winchester, Va., home. All born after 1990, the sisters are considered part of what sociologists are calling the iGeneration.


Christina said...

I could not agree more with this article. I have seen it in my own household because I have a 14 year old younger sister who is a freshman in high school. She has so much more technology avaliable to her then I ever did. For example, I was 15 when my parents first got the internet on our family computer and 16 when I got my own cell phone. She grew up with internet and now has her own labtop at 14 and has had a cell phone since 12! She is always texting her friends and talking to people, my parents need to make a point to get her "disconnected" from the technology world. They dont allow her phone at dinner, etc and they take away her labtop before a certain point at night. If they didnt do this I dont think she would ever go to sleep!

This article shows how teachers will have to change or update their teaching methods for this technological advanced generation. The article mentioned how students arent intrested in learning facts because they can easily access it on the internet. I def see this happenening with my sister, she googles everything and finds the answer that she needs, instead of spending hours studying it. I think it would be a good idea for teachers to stop teaching so many facts but teaching students the correct way to find information and how to make sure its accurate. Students need to realize that just because they google something it may not be correct. Technology and the internet is a great tool but only when it is used correctly.

Kate said...

I definitely agree with Christina in that the younger generation is extremely technology dependent. It's as if they cannot live without having constant access to their cell phone, computer, ipod etc. I think that the old saying, "Everything in moderation" is something that our society needs to embody. Children these days have cell phones in fifth grade! Students of mine come into school and show me their new cell phones, which are nicer than mine! There is no need for children to have cell phones before high school. They become dependent on technology and in my opinion the constant use of these devices is detrimental to their overall well being. They are obsessed with these objects and their use of them is excessive.

The article states how it is important for teachers to accommodate to this new generation that is so well versed in technology. I do agree with this. Teachers need to constantly be up to date on learning new forms of technology to keep up with these students. Technology after all is the wave of the future. However, technology is monopolizing young children's lives and this is not healthy. Exposing children to the technology is important, however, children need limits. Too much time is spent doing this. They need to play outside with friends and read books. They need to be kids. They are growing up way too fast and the abuse of technology is part to blame.

bryan said...

The numbers dont lie! According to the article 73 percent of teens age 12-17 utilize some kind of social networking site while percent of these teens grew up in a household with at least 1 working computer. These numbers demonstrate a dramatic increase in technological advancements as well as our need to be in constant communication. We as humans are social beings, we rely on the acceptance and learn from the social cues of others. The computer, the internet, and social networking sites have become the new forum for the free exchange of ideas. At any given moment in the day students, faster than some of us can turn on our computers, have already updated their facebook page, tweeted to hundreds of thier friends, and found out that a dear friend is sad due to their "status". Students using these online networking sites allow students to create and share "connections" that extend past both time and space.

What doe this mean for education?

In terms of the educational value of such technologies the free expression of ideas and beliefs can be harnessed in the classroom. Students can utilize these sites to debate topics not with just students in thier class; rather, with students across the globe. As a history teacher I am constantly trying to reinforce the idea of perspective. I can think of no better way then to actually have students who live in situations like the ones we are studying to get perspective on the manner. Students can ask questions about thier life and gain a broader understanding of the world around them. Utilizing technology in the classroom is a must in a generation where over stimulation runs rampant. We as educators should be utilizing methods and strategies that are meaningful to students. We should be using tools that students are familiar with and extending their ability to use these tools effectively and efficiently.

Technology is only as good as the hands they are left in. It should be our job to take students past what they could do before. Using technology can bring students to a deeper understanding of material and concepts when applied correctly.

Amy R. said...

Technology: Evil or Opportunity?

I feel passionate about the fact that we, as parents, educators, or members of the adult community can not demonize technology as being a corrupt or negative force in our society. Bryan did an excellent job of explaining this idea. The fact that kids can text or twitter should be used as an opportunity!
No high school freshman should be staring at their Geometry book saying, "I don't get my homework." Help, should they seek it, could only be a tweet away.
Would a teacher be willing to Skype with a student after hours?
Could online tutoring centers help kids access writing or math teachers from the comfort of their kitchen?
Sure, we can over indulge in technology, like some might over indulge on processed sugar or Pokemon. The key is balance.

Regarding cell phones, they are practically a necessity. Any teen needing a ride home from the local library, the movie theatre or their high school gym would be hard pressed to find a pay phone, which I relied on many years ago, to call Mom or Dad.

It is time for parents and teachers to use technology in their lessons. We need to foster an open dialogue with students regarding the acceptable use of phones, computers, and other electronic gadgets.

Joe P said...

This is a fascinating article - the technology is changing so rapidly that siblings that are just a few years apart complain about differences of availability and quality of technology! Imagine the difference between parents and all of their children! I'm reading this book called iBrain which calls parents digital "immigrants" and refers to this generation of children as digital "natives" - pretty cool!

Lori said...

While I agree that technology needs to be embraced and brought into the classroom (as so many of you described), I am not so sure on how we accomplish this. With younger students being so tech savvy, what is a teacher to do who is not tech savvy? There are still many teachers who are not comfortable with technology. Do districts need to train them? If so, when? I am lucky in that I am able to take a course to improve my abilities but most teachers are not so lucky. What do they do? Also, even with my taking this course, most students will still be better than me with their use of technology. I know I need to be open to letting them tackle projects I may not be the expert on and let them produce. It is scary not being the expert in the classroom.

Christina W said...

I think that "igeneration" has a lot of implications for teachers. I couldn't help but think about the negative aspects of always being "plugged into" technology. Imagine if you were a student who was being bullied. This student can no longer go home and escape the bullying, now he or she has to deal with it 24/7 through either texting, facebook, or other social networks. I think us teachers need to be sensitive to the dangers of overusing technology, and try and promote the positive uses of technology. Teachers are so quick to shun texting and facebook, yet I think teachers need to instead model appropriate uses of these systems. We are never going to be able to fully ban cell phones and technology from the school systems, we might as well embrace them and use them for positive purposes within the classroom. This article is a good reminder to teachers that we must try and keep up with the latest technology, and use our knowledge to create a more effective learning environment for our students. One quote struck me from this article: "The growth curve on the use of technology with children is exponential, and we run the risk of being out of step with this generation as far as how they learn and how they think," Rosen says. "We have to give them options because they want their world individualized." I remember from my own school experiences that the most effective teachers were the ones who really knew what it was like to be a student. Classroom techniques that worked ten years ago might not work now. Students are much different now, with different struggles, and different pressures. It is important to be aware as teachers and to do our best to work with the technology instead of trying to ban it.

Now with that being said, I am slightly concerned with three year olds being exposed to computers and the internet. Toddlers and elementary school children are still growing and exploring socially. I wonder how much a child can utilize his or her imagination when they are stuck behind a computer screen. I will be interested to see what studies are published regarding child development and technology. I think educators need to stay up to date on the research, since technology might in fact influence how our children develop and learn.

Melissa said...

I agree with this article. I have seen how technology has changed families. Growing up I never had a cell phone in high school, I didnt even have a computer in my house. Now I dont know what I would do with out either. As a teacher(
s) I/we can't hind the fact that technology does have an impact on our students. Teachers need to step up and learn about how to create tech lessons that will engage our students. We need to adapt to our enviroment and if that means learn more about our tech kids that so be it.

Jennifer said...

I absolutely agree with this article and can somewhat relate to Christina. I have a one year old daughter and it's amazing to watch her when she catches sight of a cell phone or computer. She already knows how to turn a cell phone on, dial the numbers, say "hello" and "bye-bye" (while holding the phone to her ear) and turn the phone off. She has a countless number of toy phones (from grandma of course) and all her "Educational" toys have some kind of computer component. My husband and I try not to "intentionally" overuse the cell phone/computer while she is around but it seems it's easier to quickly send a text or email rather than call someone on the phone. It is obvious that she is picking up social signals all aronund her about the significance and importance of these pieces of technology.
There is no turning back. Technology is here to stay. Teacher's MUST update their teaching methods and change with the times. It seems as though children are born knowing how to use these tools of technology. I agree with Chrisitina "technology is a great tool when used correctly"...and as long as it is not overused! I mean, I didn't have a cell phone or computer until after I graduated college....and I still received a great education. Hmmm, wouldn't that be an interesting study? a child with limited access to technology verse one who has a vast knowledge and access to technology?

Sara said...

It is amazing to see technology growing every day. I like to think of myself as computer savvy, however, when I walk into various schools -elementary all the way to high school- it’s bizarre to see how much these students know about technology.
Growing up, I never had anything children these days have. I got my first cell phone as a senior in high school and that was only for emergencies. It was not to be used for texting my friends at all hours of the day. Now elementary school children have one, often times more expensive and more high tech than mine.
It is because of all the technological advancements that teachers will have to be more creative in how they teach lessons. The majority of the lessons will have to be drawn from internet activities and so on. Students nowadays want things right now! This is why they love technology; they have everything at the palm of their hands. Schools and administrators need to see this and make it an effective tool to be used with the students.
Although technology is a great resource, it sometimes can be misused. Teachers will then need to stress to their students to not rely on technology to do the homework completely. For example, I have known several students in a language class use a program such as AltaVista to write paragraphs and papers. Languages translators are useful, but need to be used with caution. Grammatical errors are one of the most obvious ways to tell a student has used one.
There are some cons to the use of technology. But it’s safe to say that it will only keep growing …

RyanCleary said...

I completely agree that it is astounding how much technology is having an impact on students today. The impact is both positive and negative. Looking at the issue positively it is amazing how much information is at the hands and fingertips of students. Students can locate information on virtually any topic and at just about any level imaginable. Students have the opportunity to access this information in school or at home, depending on what resources are available. Communication is also happening at any time and in a variety of different modes; mobile phones, texting, social networking sites, emails, etc. Technology makes research and communication efficient and effective as long as it is used properly, which leads to the negative side of the igeneration.

The wealth of information also opens up many doors for missinformation, bullying, and inappropriate interactions. Students are realizing that utilizing all this technology can be a two way street. Many students are "putting themselves out there" on the internet. This can lead to cyber-bullying situations. Also, students need to be instructed in 21st century literacy skills. Students need to know how to identify reputable sources on the internet. There is a lot of information out there. How do they find what they are looking for? How do they know they can trust what they are reading? While our technology is creating many meaningful opportunities for learning we must remember how crucial it is to teach students how to use technology appropriately and responsibly so that they can get the most out of each learning experience.

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