Yesterday, while working with the eighth graders, I was the one who learned a really good lesson. It was more of a reminder, actually. So often I think we tell ourselves that young people know everything there is to know about technology; they are the "Digital Natives" after all, aren't they? Today I was reminded not to make that assumption.
Yes, most of my students can perform great feats of magic on their cellphones or iPods (at least from where I sit they can). But how much do they know about the practical aspects of technology? Do they know how to use a wiki to present a research topic? Do they know how to use their cellphone to take notes or write themselves reminders? How about keeping a calendar on their phone? On Google? Anywhere!
My students may adapt quickly to the technology they find themselves sitting in front of, but they are not born knowing how to do such things as work with HTML code. They don't have an innate sense of what is safe and/or proper online. What they do have is a lack of fear when it comes to technology. They'll try anything, do anything, without worrying about what might happen. I'm not sure that's exactly a good thing, but I do admire their willingness to try anything.
So, there I was, working with eighth graders on their Civil War wiki, and Andy asked me if I could help his group add some music to their page. "Sure, no problem," I said. "Let's see if we can find a widget that'll work and then we can just embed it into the site."
"It's really easy," I continued warily, "we just need to grab the HTML code and copy and paste it into the wiki."
"Um, Miss McMillan, I didn't understand a word you just said there."
Why on earth did I ever think he would? Just because he knows how to use a cellphone? Seriously? So, I did what I'm supposed to do...I taught him. I walked him through the steps, trying my best to keep my hands off the computer, and watched as he put all those crazy words his teacher had just said together with a fairly simple process. It was a wonderful moment.
And then he said, "Miss McMillan, you must be a genius!"
Yes, yes I am. Now, can you help me get the pictures off my cellphone?