I remember my first desktop computer – it was a Mac SE. I was able to turn it on, go get a cup of coffee, get back to my desk and on a good day – it was booted. And it was wondrous! My son assumes his computer isn't working if he needs to wait more than 12 seconds to see the home page.
Offices were filled with staff and boardroom meetings. Now we work remotely, skype, have webinars – large corporate offices are shrinking and computers fit in your bag. Though there is a tremendous amount of social media, there is less social time amongst us. It's progress.
Recently,The Huffington Post/Education posted an article by a child psychologist that begged parents to take all mobile devices way from children under the age of 13. She claimed that it was the cause of excess anxiety, obesity, hyperactivity and all the usual suspects. After reading it, I was annoyed and didn't these symptoms exist pre iPads? Surprisingly, I wasn't the only reader that felt annoyed. The article sparked a flood of responses that her thinking was archaic, unsound and most insisted that moderation was the key. To remove them altogether was, as one parent put it, "insane." Safe to conclude that the majority of parents are on board with integrating technology into our children's lives.
Technology in school is necessary. Kids love iPads, laptops, phones and they rely on web for entertainment, research and gaming. Technology is a great tool for engaging kids and delivering education. However the information accessed isn't always trustworthy or even accurate. Curating information for digital delivery is a beast that is being wrestled with by teachers and is where the focus should be.
We don’t need to teach kids how to use technology – that’s almost absurd. They can teach us.
We need to curate the info that they need to make them think about, problem solve with, critique and ultimately learn from. And that's what edtech companies are trying to do. Why companies? Because teachers are largely resistant to change and don't have the time. Companies don't get education funding and need to monetize their ventures to keep them alive. Of course, Brainspace magazine curates digital information and by delivering it through a trusted source, it's safe, easy and smart.
How kids choose to learn - textbooks, magazines, digital/web, MOOKs, mentors... should be up to them. What appeals to each student varies. Education can be varied. It should be. But it takes a leap of faith. It means giving up control and trusting our children. If we allow them to creatively assemble the vetted building blocks of their education, the results could be greater confidence, creativity and critical thinking. Creativity and critical thinking is key to success for our future adults. Just look at Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
Here are some interesting facts that should motivate us to let go the industrial model of learning:
In December, Canada dropped to 14th in academic standings around the world. That's an unfortunate first for Canada who's consistently been in the top 5. It’s apparent that we need to up our game if we’re going to help our students became competitive on the world stage. Are we following in the footsteps in the our American neighbours? Is education in crisis?
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) reports show that men make up a whopping 74% of the workforce related to these fields. How are we helping girls thrive in these areas?
In another recent interview for Brainspace, I spoke to Dale Boucher of Deltion, a company being used for the manufacturing of rovers and drills to mine asteroids. When asked if our 10 year olds can consider a career in space mining, he said "absolutely." Question is, what will it take? More than classrooms. It's nuts to hold teachers alone responsible for the education of our kids. The internet, parents and the community have to become an active part of the village if our kids are to be given the tools to help them become our future successful adults. How? Baby steps are good. If you're an engineer, doctor, artist, media producer, software developer etc.. try a little show and share at your local school. Most teachers will welcome the expertise. Kids appreciate the insight.