Sunday, 3 June 2012

From Hyperspace to Hyperlink

I read this blog post last night after following a link on Twitter – “Social Media for Administrators” - :

“There can no longer be an “opt out” clause when dealing with technology in our schools, especially from our administrators. We need to prepare our kids to live in this world now and in the future. Change may feel hard, but it is part of learning.  We expect it from our kids, we need to expect it from ourselves.”

There have been some key markers for me that have made me become a successful digital immigrant; though maybe I’m one of the early colonists. 
For a start, I’ve always liked science fiction.  I was an avid viewer of Star Trek right from the sixties and ingested sci fi novels at a great rate from the age of about eight.  I became aware of the way real life imitated art: Asimov’s “I Robot” was influential in the development of robots.  The flip phone and tablet had their early equivalents on Star Trek.  

Also impressive were the messages the series gave this young viewer: the importance of connecting, communicating and collaborating.  Like the NZ Curriculum vision, their vision was to value being:
a)     Confident - positive in their own identity, motivated and reliable, resourceful, enterprising (sic) , entrepreneurial, resilient
b)     Connected - able to relate well to others, effective users of communication tools, connected to the land and environment, members of communities, international (inter-galaxy) citizens
c)     Actively involved - participants in a range of life contexts, contributors to the well-being of New Zealand (the universe)  – social, cultural, economic, and environmental
d)     Lifelong learners - literate and numerate, critical and creative thinkers, active seekers, users, and creators of knowledge, informed decision makers.

Alright, Captain Kirk had a bit of biffo regularly, but that was more to do with TV ratings.  What always stood out was that lack of fear of the new and unknown.

A lot like our kids.  They aren’t afraid to get out there and "boldly go where no one has gone before."  I watched my young daughter pick up the new pair of mobile phones, and after a few minutes announce that she’d worked out how to set up the address book and remotely send it to the other phone.  No fear of the alien at all!  This was another key moment, when I realised that I had to have that ability to explore, without fear of getting something wrong. 

At Learning At School 2012, Simon Breakspear said it: “Fail fast. Fail forward. Accelerate learning.” We learn from our mistakes, so make them quickly.

Captain Kirk kept a log – we keep a blog.  The third key marker is being selected to go to a workshop about blogging.  I’d heard the term way back in 2004, but never seen one.  Instantly I was hooked! My class had a blog and published their writing.  Mum, Dad and Grandma in England could leave a comment.  Wow! The cluster map showed that we had hundreds of readers, and we were excited.  I remember one young writer’s eyes opening wide when she realised that her little post had received 235 hits.  It was empowering.

We connected with a class in Malaysia through our blog to find out what they thought was a healthy breakfast.  We followed the travels of our teacher aide through words, photos and video as she travelled through Asia.  What a way to study Vietnam!

The fourth marker was a slideshow using Photostory, recounting one young man’s experiences on athletics day, which he created with the collaboration of a buddy.  He communicated a story of photos with captions.  He was proud of the quality of the presentation, and he shared it with his mother.  All firsts.  She had never come to the parent interviews before.

The fifth marker has to be what I see in my household: three young women who communicate by text and Facebook.  We Skype when they are at uni.  We buy our groceries and do our banking online.  We research with Google rather than a set of encyclopaedia.  I have an iphone, ipad and laptop, and can never find a pen.  This is my present, and I’m charged with preparing students for a future that we can’t predict.

So fellow educators, it’s time to get on board the Enterprise.  It’s already on its way, and has been for a while.  Be one of those who “boldly go where no one has gone before.” Take that hyperlink.