“Teaching is about making connections, and the first thing we need to do is connect with our students. Relevance and credible analogies are critical for good teaching; being unable to understand a fundamental premise of your student’s lives will make it harder to teach and relate to them.”
“Teaching Naked” Jose Antonio Bowen Page 30
Technology is rapidly altering the world we live in and the way we live and learn. At the same time technology itself is rapidly evolving and changing. At one time Myspace was the website where one could connect with other people and promote your band, group or organization through the internet, now Facebook is the dominant website. Even so new reports that as older adults embrace Facebook, teens and younger adults are abandoning the platform in the millions (Matthews, C. 2014). The world is now seeing a generation of “Digital Natives” (Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. (2008), young people who have grown up immersed in digital technology as compared to “Digital Immigrants” people like myself who came to digital technology much later in life. The challenge as I see it is how do I teach my students so that I don’t seem to be some kind of digital dinosaur to them.
My biggest fear as an instructor is being boring and not being able to connect with my students. As someone who went to high school during the 1960’s I experienced the difficulties faced by my teachers as they tried to connect with their students at the same time that young people were challenging and changing many of society’s basic assumptions. Today as I look around and see young people constantly looking at their cell phones I wonder how I can reach them teaching in the traditional manner. I wonder if I will be able to bridge the gap and engage them and interest them in what I have to offer. It makes me question if I have what it takes to be an educator. Not only do I have to deal with rapid advances in digital technology in the classroom but also rapid advances in technology that is used in my industry.
The reason for these doubts is the fact that I came to digital technology fairly late in life and while I am able to use some aspects of digital technology I am not as adept as the young people who grew up using digital technology. An example of this is the playing of computer games something that young people today are very adept at but something that didn’t exist in my youth and that I never participated in. Another example is that even though I own a cell phone I don’t use it as extensively as young people today do. I don’t use or have a lot of apps nor do I use it as my primary connection to the internet. Learning and using the new programs and apps that are developing is much harder for me whereas young people seem to learn their use with ease. When it comes to much of the new digital media and communication mediums the role of all knowing teacher and student becomes reversed as my students will have a better understanding of how to use these technologies than I will.
So it makes me ask myself what role can I fill in my student’s lives and I realize that my years of experience makes me suited to “… encourage youth to develop the skills, knowledge, ethical frameworks, and self-confidence needed to be full participants in contemporary culture.” (Jenkins, H. 2006 p. 8) Taking courses such as this will give me the tools that will allow me to use the new digital technology in my teaching and provide me with a rudimentary knowledge that will allow me to understand my student’s digital environment. My life experiences will allow me to help my students connect their digital environment to the world that they inhabit. As I focus on learning and keeping up with the new technologies that my students will face as they go forward in their lives I must not lose sight of my real task which is to make sure that they will function as valued members of their communities.
Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. (2008). The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence. British journal of educational technology, 39(5), 775-786.
Jenkins, H. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. An Occasional Paper on Digital Media and Learning. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Kvan, T., Mark, E., Oxman, R., & Martens, B. (2004). Ditching the dinosaur: Redefining the role of digital media in education. International Journal of Design Computing, 7.
Matthews, C. (2014). More Than 11 Million Young People Have Fled Facebook Since 2011. TIME.com http://business.time.com/2014/01/15/more-than-11-million-young-people-have-fled-facebook-since-2011/#ixzz2vmmK8blR