Saturday, January 26, 2008

Frontline's "Growing Up Online"

The Frontline had an interesting episode earlier this week called Growing Up Online. It's certainly worth your time if you're a parent or teacher and there were are number of posts across the net about it. One post I thought was noteworthy was from Doug Johnson's blog. He makes the distinction between 'entertain' and 'engage' and I couldn't agree more.

The entertainment angle is something I'm hearing in more and more in edutech conversations around games in education or 'edutainment' (dreadful word) and something that would get the hackles up of many of my staff, "I'm not here to entertain them!" is a direct quote. At the same time just doing the traditional Chalk Talk is going to lose them. So, where do we go from here? We have to find, what Seymour Papert calls, the hard fun in what we're doing.

The most critical thing I took from the Frontline piece is how the students were craving the attention of others, not that that's anything new. A favorite past time of my 2 year old is to mug in front of the camera on our Mac (like I assume everyone does the first time they discover PhotoBooth.) But we no longer provide the audience our kids are looking for. It's a strange new world where everyone is a 'friend' with each other, before they even know their name. This is where we, as educators, must come in. Providing a real audience for our students is a way not only to engage them but tap into something they already are passionate about.