Thursday, June 25, 2009

Information Literacy, Educators, and the Digital Classroom

The rate at which information technology has become integrated into our daily activities is nothing short of mind-boggling. The web we were all fascinated with 10-15 years ago is absolutely common place - a normal, daily activity and not given a second-thought by most under the age of 35. In fact, an entire demographic now view e-mail the way many of us view fax technology - ordinary and antiquated: recent studies found most teens get their first e-mail at the average age of 13 and the quickest way to reach them is by text message, and that a number of universities are no longer providing incoming students with e-mail addresses.

We now have the capability to be wired 24/7. We can use geo-tracking applications on our mobile to find out which of our friends are in the immediate neighbourhood - instantly, right-there, no calls, no planning...entire social practices which have spanned generations eliminated in just a few years. As the iPhone commercial says "there's an app for just about anything". To the baby boomer and late-adopters this may seem nothing more than a cute marketing line. And while it is, it is also so much more, it's an entire universe in the palm of your hand, it's an app for just about anything, anywhere, anytime, anyplace...nothing short of a new way of learning, thinking, playing, and socializing.

Yes, we're in the midst of immense change, but we all already know this. We know that Generation Y, which is now entering the workplace, is a very different beast from the Baby Boomer; and this is making the baby boomer very nervous. We also know that information technology and social media, of all type, are some of the primary forces shaping the lives of our children and students. Yet, for many of these students their classroom activities and how they're taught has not done a very good job of keeping up with these changes. There is a definite "urgency of now" to this predicament. In fact, the results of a three-year collaborative project out of Berkeley, USC (Digital Youth Research - Final Report) clearly indicate that the ways young people use the internet everyday are transforming learning in ways that adults often fail to understand, but which represent major new opportunities that need to be taken advantage of by supportive educators.

This site is our way of starting a dialogue with these changes. An attempt to scan and discover digital resources and tools which can work with what we are expected to teach, help us find other ways to facilitate student learning and development, and hopefully connect with other educators who share our interests and concerns.