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Teaching the Digital Generation

Thanks to its partnership with educational publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to share this blog post by Nancy Sulla, author of Students Taking Charge: Inside the Learner-Active, Technology-Infused Classroom.

The following post frames questions that help educators determine whether they are providing the differentiated, engaging, collaborative learning environment that resonates with today’s digital generation.

Today’s students have grown up with advanced technology. Most are carrying around smart phones that are more powerful than many classroom computers! Consider how their experiences with technology shape their interaction with information and with other people. What do they experience when they attend school that mirrors their experiences outside of school?

  • Students post opinions on blogs, share videos on YouTube, upload podcasts to iTunes, create personal Facebook pages, and more. Our students thrive on expressing themselves in a variety of ways. Are they encouraged to express themselves in a variety of ways in the classroom?
  • Students visit Web sites that welcome them and know their interests, calling them by their screen names. They create avatars that represent them. Our students expect personalization. Is their classroom learning experience personalized?
  • Students text and instant message whom they want, engage in online environments with whom they want, and control their computer desktops. Our students demand freedom. What freedom do they experience in the classroom?
  • Students engage in online interactive environments with others around the world, socializing, creating, and gaming. Our students thrive on social interaction. How much of their academic school day involves social interaction to learn?
  • Students google people, look up topics on Wikipedia, use an online dictionary to learn to pronounce a word, visit the U.N. Web site to learn about world hunger, and click on sites to check the weather and get the news. Our students demand immediate information—what they want, when they want it. Does this level of information availability exist in the classroom?
  • Students instant message several people while searching the Web, engaging in an online discussion, watching a television program, and texting on the phone. Our students want to be everywhere at once. Is this level of engagement available in their classrooms?
  • Students used social networks to grieve the loss from the Virginia Tech massacre; they raise money for starving nations; they take a stand against Darfur. Our students are socially aware and active. Is this level of social activism available in their classrooms?


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