Wednesday, January 23, 2008

David Warlick's Pre-Conference Keynote Reaction

I really enjoy seeing David Warlick present. I have had the luxury of seeing him present live three times now and still enjoy hearing his message. While viewing David Warlick’s pre-conference presentation I was really struck by his comment about the Digital Divide. David claims that the “Digital Divide is more than access”.

We have always been told about the digital divide on the level of access. I couldn’t agree more with David on this. In Maine our middle school laptop program was originally funded as an effort to reduce the Digital Divide that was occurring in our state. As I just finished watching the PBS Frontline Documentary “Growing Up Online” it clearly showed just how strong this divide is. One of the experts in the documentary mentioned that we are in the middle of the biggest generation gap since the Rock and Roll era. I believe this to be true. Our children are learning so much on their “side trips” around the Internet it is staggering. They live in a technological world with minimal boundaries that does not include the adults in their lives.

I have always claimed that children have one job – to test their boundaries. As a parent of two daughters ages 7 and 9 I know this well. I’m sure as my girls enter their teens and older I’ll learn this lesson even further. Without the clear boundaries of their parents’ world, many teens have developed their own world within their favorite social networking sites. Like anything else in the world this can be positive as well as negative. We’ve seen plenty of the negative in the news. It was refreshing to see some of the positive as well in the Frontline documentary.

Therefore, I believe boundaries are important in life and in the classroom. Many teachers feel the strain of technology in their classrooms. Technology has transformed classrooms into places that can be threatening to traditional teachers as it empowers teachers that use it for its strengths. Many traditional teachers feel like dinosaurs in their classroom getting prepared for extinction. They were used to having all the answers and knowing more than their students. Today’s teacher must give that notion up. They need to collaborate with their students to create the new boundaries between a teacher and student. Those boundaries provide teachers and students with something to grab onto and gain traction as they both move forward.

Image Citation:
James. “Laptop desks in the computer science building.” maebmij's photostream. 4 April 2004. 23 Jan 2008 .

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