Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Digital Generation

This picture is made by my son with Blender-software.

Today's children and young people are born into the digital era.
Babys babbling and crying is transmitted from the pram to the parents by a Baby monitor.
iPad will read bedtime stories and  entertain the children in doctor's waiting room.
Childrens homework is downloaded from the school website.
Notes are written with a laptop or a tablet.

Technology is a good aid - also for learning.
A pre-school class, in a school in the area where I work as a school psychologist,
received iPads last Easter.
At the beginning of the summer holidays
every pre-schooler in that class had learned to read.

This raises a question
- Is there a link between the use of an iPad and the process of learning to read
(is there any correlation to be found?)

Unfortunately, the process was not measured or documented in a way,
that one could draw any conclusions.
There was no systematical measurement of the level of children's reading abilities before or after receiving the iPads, neither any peer group-measurements.
It would have been interesting if the process of using the iPads had been documented.

This week all the pupils in the elementary schools in this municipality
have received iPads.
Teachers received their iPads before the summer holidays, in order to learn to use them
and to know how to guide the students -
as well as to plan how to use iPads in education.

iPad is a great device for pupils with dyslexia - iPad can read the text aloud,
as well as help you in writing.
iPad can give visual aid and structure the homework for pupils
who have learning disabilities or who struggle with attention deficits.

However, we've come across of a few drawbacks as well:

- Students, who have no wireless internet connection at home,
can't use iPads for the homework exercises.
They can only use their iPads during school hours or on school grounds.

- Students whose parents are not familiar with digital technology,
are dependent on the help of teachers and friends.

... and during the breaks the internet connection of the school gets slow,
when a the students are Twitting or on the Facebook!
--> Just joking - the most kids are still playing baseball, football etc.

iPad is a learning tool, therefore it is the teachers responsibility to set
guidelines for how, when, and how to use iPads.

I am really looking forward to follow the iPad process,
and I'll be posting more about our experiences.

This fall "a digital senior high school" - a  senior high school with digital teaching material only -
has started in Copenhagen.
That means that it is a bookless / a paperless senior high.

I need to say that I'm a bit curious,
and maybe also a bit of concerned:
How does a continuous use of electronic learning devices 
does affect the development of the nervous system of children and youth?

The students sit in front of a laptop screen all day long at the lectures
zapping from lecture notes to Twitter, Facebook,
YouTube, news, and back to the lecture notes.

What is the effect of the continuous stimulation on the developing neurological system,
and on the ability to focus - and on ability to tolerate the absence of the constant stimuli,
where our senses receive little and weak influences?

Time will tell.
Maybe the Digital Generation will become experts in multitasking?
Perhaps there will arise a anti-digi-hippie movement in some 10-20 years?
Who knows?

Well - We've got a digital generation at home.
Our junior is into digital-picture & filmmaking software.
He's been using a Blender software to make the video in the end of this post.
He had a trial version of a CINEMA 4 D - the trial period has just ended.

Before he downloaded it a couple of months ago I told him,
that if the CINEMA 4D is an easy-to-use softeware,
he could maybe wish to get it for his birthday.
He learned quite fast to use the program, and we looked with curiosity where we could purchase it.

I was surprised to see how expensive the software was: from GBP 780 to GBP 3360!
(... So he's more likely gonna get s biggy bank for his birthday :)
I found out that CINEMA 4 D is a professional software used to make and edit films and other 4D programs!

... In conclusion, 
one of the strengths of the Digital Generation 
seems to be their 
self-learning skills! 

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