Why should you integrate technology in your teaching?

de01-genY.jpgReadings and Reflection

Our required reading for class this week was an article by Ian Jukes entitled “Understanding Digital Kids: Teaching and Learning in the New Digital Landscape.” In this article Jukes describes today’s students who are a part of the digital generation. He discusses the effects that new technology has had on today’s youth and the profound implications it will have on our educational system. Jukes begins by illustrating the digital generation also known as digital natives or as Grown Up Digital author Don Tapscott calls them “screenagers”. This is the first generation that has grown up with a computer and interacted with technology on a day-to-day basis. As a result the digital generation has developed hyperlinked minds which allows them to process information in a parallel and simultaneous manner, in other words today’s youth can interpret multiple pieces of information instantaneously. The digital generation is exposed to technology at a very young age and as a result they process information different than older generations. This is having a great effect on teaching and learning in education. Digital learners have different learning styles than the traditional student had. As a result today’s teachers must modify their teaching styles for today’s technologically savvy students. Jukes goes on to list 8 key preferences of the digital learner;
1. Digital learners prefer receiving information quickly from multiple multimedia sources
2. Digital learners prefer parallel processing and mulit-tasking
3. Digital learners prefer processing pictures, sounds, colour and video before text
4. Digital learners prefer random access to hyper-linked multimedia info
5. Digital learners prefer to network simultaneously with many others
6. Digital learners prefer to learn “just-in-time”
7. Digital learners prefer instant gratification and immediate rewards
8. Digital learners prefer learning that’s relevant, active and instantly useful and fun
Although Jukes goes into detail describing the many preferences of the digital learner he does not give suggestions for teachers on how to incorporate these preferences into their classrooms. Hopefully this information is coming in Part 2 of this article (next week). Overall, Jukes' article was very informative and helpful in describing today’s digital student. As young teacher I find that I relate to the digital learner because for the most part I have grown up in the digital age, using technology. I can see how many of the preferences Jukes describes could be helpful for a modern student and would feel comfortable implementing them in my classroom. For example, Jukes points out that digital learners prefer pictures, sounds, colour and video before text, throughout my practicum I often incorporated slide presentations with videos and pictures in my lessons.
At the end of his article Jukes discusses perceptual blindness, the phenomenon of not being able to perceive things that are in plain sight. He discusses a video, similar to the one to the left, that tests perceptual blindness. Did you pass the test? Perceptual blindness can be a result of having no internal frame of reference to perceive the unseen objects, or it can be the result of the mental focus or attention which cause mental distractions. Jukes points that if we are victims of perceptual blindness it is likely that we are missing important things happening to our students. Teachers pay more attention to standards, testing, and meeting the requirements of the province and often disregard the students, how to understand them and engage them. As a result our education system has not changed to meet the needs of the digital learner.


New Software and How to Use It

This week we began working on our wiki project. This assignment requires us to a create a wiki that we will update periodically throughout the semester. The wiki will track our progress and learning for the duration of the course. We spent time on Monday getting to know wikispaces.com and learning how to use it. Wikispaces is straight forward, easy to use and free of charge for teachers. Wikis are an excellent resource for teachers. They can be used by teachers to interact with students or communicate with parents. Teachers can use a wiki for a variety of purposes such as posting homework assignments, creating class discussion boards, or posting class notes. Students can use wikis as well. A wiki allows students to work collectively on school assignments and collaborate from the comfort of their own home (a preference that Ian Jukes points to). I believe that wikis will play an important role in the education of the digital learner.

What I Have Learned This Week...
Digital Natives?

1. As new teachers we will be teaching digital natives
2. Digital learners have 8 key preferences
3. Wikis are an excellent resource for the classroom