Interesting article in Tuesday’s USA Today about how “Today’s Young ‘Digital Natives’ Can’t Live, or Study, Without Technology.” The focus was on Ball State U. in Indiana, the most wired campus in the country. It gives a lot of examples of how students are using, and in some sense, abusing the technology, and quotes a bunch of folks as to how the use of technology is a good thing, a bad thing, overrated, underused, misunderstood, empowering, worrisome…you get the idea. It’s not hard to get the message that this is a very confusing, conflicting period, that we’re all trying to figure out.

And yesterday, with a great group of educators in Tulsa, OK, we spent quite a bit of time talking about the conflicting feelings we get from these technologies. Excitement about the potential, fear about the transparency, uncertainty about where to go with it or how to master it. While these technologies certainly empower us, they also muddle much of what we thought we knew about teaching and learning. They challenge us, certainly, to answer many of the questions in our own individual contexts, and that’s a lot of work.

No earth shattering connection here, but it reminded me of the writing Henry Jenkins did in Convergence Culture about the work of Pierre Levy and the idea of a knowledge culture. Toward the end of the book, he talks about how Levy really writes optimistically about what we’re creating here, but that to get to that “other side” we have a lot of learning to do.

The reason why Levy was optimistic that the emergence of a knowledge-based culture would enhance democracy and global understanding was that it would model new protocols for interacting across our differences. Of course, those protocols do not emerge spontaneously as an inevitable consequence of technological change. They will emerge through experimentation and conscious effort. This is part of what constitutes the “apprenticeship” phase the Levy envisioned. We are still learning what it is like to operate within a knowledge culture. We are still debating and resolving the core principals that will define our interactions with each other. (238)

To me, the question is how do we learn to operate within that culture while at the same time teaching our kids how to do it? This is the huge task that I sense most teachers who learn the potential of these technologies grapple with. They sense the immediacy of all of this, how we can’t simply wait for generational change. Yet they are overwhelmed with what’s being asked of them, with the idea that they need to teach what they don’t know

How do we do that?

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