By Jim Shimabukuro
Got up this morning and ipadded the local news. A Microsoft store is opening at 11AM today in the Ala Moana Center (Honolulu). This news is interesting, but not half as much as the buzz generators.
A crowd of mostly the young gathered the night before to be among the first to enter and win concert tickets. How did they hear about it? According to Jenn Branstetter, a Microsoft social media team member, via the corporation’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
And the concert tickets? They’re for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Their song, “Thrift Shop,” is at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. How did it get there? YouTube, where it has had 340 million views and counting. Neon Trees will also perform.
So, what does this have to do with change in education? A lot, that is, if we’re really paying attention. First is that we may need to shift our eyes and ears to our children, our students. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — the media associated with this Microsoft event — are all social media. And all are easily accessible via their smartphones.
This is their world. The disconnect is that it’s not the world of schools and colleges. To gauge the winds of change, we look to education leaders, and the higher the prestige of their institutions, the harder we listen. Yet the signs of change are all around us, under our very noses. The young. What do they tell us about who they are and how they learn and make sense of the world? About how they use digital communication devices and social media to construct and shape their world?
A few days ago, I received an email from Mike Donlin, Program Supervisor, The Safety Center, State of Washington, with a tip on a survey, From Chalkboards to Tablets: The Emergence of the K-12 Digital Learner, that was released on 4 June 2013. The gist of the ten-year study is that K-12 students “want their in-school learning life to look more like their out-of-school digital life.”
The study involved “364,240 K-12 students representing over 8,000 schools and 2,400 districts nationwide” and focused “on how today’s digital tools and resources are enabling, engaging and empowering students to become self-directed learners.” Here are some excerpts:
- Today 65 percent of students in grades 6-8 and 80 percent of students in grades 9-12 are smartphone users.
- Today, while access is still not universal for all students, for the majority of the students across all grades, their attention is on how to use a wide range of digital tools and resources to enable a highly personalized learning experience.
- When asked how their school can make using technology for schoolwork easier, it is not surprising that students want access to academic-oriented websites that are currently blocked, the ability to use their own mobile device in class, and unlimited Internet access campus wide.
- Students are intrigued with the potential of using [mobile] devices to transform the daily learning process in the classroom. They imagine being able to:
- look up information on the Internet whenever they want or need to (73 percent)
- record lectures or labs so that they can review them later for self-remediation (69 percent)
- receive timely reminders and alerts about school assignments, project deadlines and tests (63 percent), and
- use the devices as a gateway to collaborate with peers, both in their classroom and around the world (61 percent).
Nearly fifty years ago, Bob Dylan sang “The order is / Rapidly fadin’ / And the first one now / Will later be last / For the times they are a-changin’,” and these lines are especially true for today when top-down expertise seems to be at odds with the information that’s all around us — our children. Interestingly, the drive for greater freedom in choosing learning media is intimately connected to the drive for greater independence in directing their own learning.
So, what’s the message for educators? Chill, loosen up, work with today’s students — not against them. And the first step is to understand where the young are coming from and to recognize that it’s not a-changin’ but changed.
Sources: Star-Advertiser, “Microsoft Counts on Hip-hop Duo to Raise a Rush for First Isle Store” (6.13.13); Amy Busek’s “Fans Gathering for Concert Tickets and Microsoft Opening” (6.12.13).
Filed under: K-12 Schools |