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Leb Tech Talk
Book Review: Understanding the Digital Generation
Music: Paradigm Shift Intro (fade out)
Allison: Welcome to Leb Tech Talk, this is your host Allison Mollica and today we will be taking a peek at a book titled "Understanding the Digital Generation" subtitled Teaching and Learning in the new Digital Landscape by Ian Jukes, Ted McCain, and Lee Crocket
Allison: I think one of the things that makes this book so powerful is that much of what is written in this book is based on scientific reading and study. Many, many resources are referenced throughout the book so it is not seemingly based on opinion but based on fact and researched opinion.
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This book talks about how our brains are changing the way they function and operate due to our exposure to high tech indicating that students who have grown up being exposed to excessive audio and visual media - their brain patterns are altered. New neural pathways are strengthened and old ones are weakened and therefore the needs of the learner have changed. Their brains learn differently than brains of yesterday. Our classrooms are filled with children who's brain's have developed in a digital world - their brains operate differently and it only makes sense that their learning needs have changed as well.
Music: Paradigm Shift Fade out
"Brain research tells us that "connection" is the key to effective instruction. An for our students today, "digital is their first language." Unfortunately for most teachers, that is not the case because we have grown up in a different era, our backgrounds and experiences are different. We remember handwriting, research only using the Dewey Decimal System and having teacher and the textbook being the only source of information in the classroom.
Chapter 2, "The Problem Gap" goes into explain this further - a real eye opener!
Chapter 3 - What We Know About the Digital Generation. One of the key points it makes is that there is a rapidly growing gap of understanding between young people sitting int he classrooms and the adult who teach them and makes decisons about what they learn.
In this chapter, we learn about Neuroplasticity - a term used to describe the process of ongoing reorganization and restructuring of the brain. As I mentioned before, much of the information in this book is based on scientific research/study. The author recommends this book - "The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science" by Norman Doidge - for those who want to learn more about Neuroplasticity.
Also referenced and recommended is "Everything is Bad for You," by Steven Johnson who speaks to how complex games and technologies are educating our kids outside the classroom. There is a lot of powerful information about this and one thing that I get is that a lot of the skills that students learn playing video games, using facebook, their Iphone, their ipods - these are skills that are required in the "real world" and these are skills that employers are looking for and not necessarily the skills that are being assess in school systems, by NCLB or even NWEA.
Another book, Daniel Pink's " A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Concept Age, brings up left brain thinking. The left side of the brain is focused on talking, reading, writing and numeracy. Schools traditionally focus on left brain thinking because that was the foundation to success in the industrial age. The right brain, however, handles pattern analysis, problem solving, big picture thinking, intuition, connecting the dots...this side has not been as "valued." Pink cites that left brain activities have been "automated" and contends that our children need to be "whole brain" thinkers to thrive in the 21st century workplace.
Without reading you the entire book you can tell now that there is a lot of powerful information from this. One thing I took away from this, that I have already thought, is that our students are sophisticated thinkers. Students that could be viewed as unproductive learners or disinterested or problems in the classroom - is that they cannot relate to activities such as memorizing the capitals of the states, for example. The know they can get that information on demand "when" they need it so why would they waste time memorizing it when there is no value in knowing it! To them it is useless! That is just one example of a disconnect that could be present between our students and teachers in the classroom. They need to know how to find things out when they need to know it. Information literacy is what we are looking for.
If you are a teacher or administrator who truly wants to understand the needs of our learners and meet those needs in your classrooms, you need to read this book.
Chapter 4 goes on to provide concrete ways in which traditional instruction can be modified and transformed to help meet these needs.
Chapter 7 is titled A Shift to Whole Minded Instruction.
I want to close this cast with a quote from Chapter 5 - "For more than One Hundred Years much complaint has been made of the unmethodical way in which schools are conducted, but it is only within the last 30 that any serious attempt has been made to find a remedy for this state of things and with what results? Schools remain exactly as they were. Comenius, 1632.
Read the book! Title and authors.
Sound: Newscast Five
Music 1: Paradigm Shift (fade in fade out)
Audio: This is Allison Mollica at Leb Tech Talk, thank you for listening today. I hope I peeked your interest in Understanding the Digital Generation - I keep revisiting chapter after chapter and making connections as my life as an educator and parent. I highly recommend it.