Thursday, September 21, 2006

How native are the "technology natives"

How native are the natives?
The phrase technology is transparent for students took on new meaning today! I worked with the 8th grade teacher to introduce the students to digital literacy and we were surprised with what happened. We started with Alan Novemeber’s quiz on digital literacy our plan then was to dissect URL’s with them and then model checking websites for validity of information.
We discovered that technology was truly transparent to them but not in the way we had anticipated. It was more akin to them driving a car without any knowledge the traffic codes. Most of the class, (probably 85%) did not know how to answer question #1 Name three search engines. And it went down hill from there. It was not because they hadn;’t us computers or the internet it was because they new nothing at all about basic technical vocabulary or how things were put together. We built on what they did know…putting terms like Google and Ask Jeeves on the board and deconstructing the phrase “Search engine” Then did the same with Xanga, My space and Live Journal and deconstructed WEB/LOG

Okay the lights went on…then we went to the computer lab to do a little searching for information using noodletools and discovered that many of the students had some difficulty understanding the questions the web site asked to guide them in their research. All of this is important baseline data and tells us a lot about what we need to do. Technology is transparent, indeed but only in terms of its operation.

The students are generally excited about using technology but they are not quite so motivated to take charge of their learning and they lack some critical skill sets. But that is our job and so we look at this as both an opportunity and a challenge and we look forward to seeing the growth over time.

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