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Talk Like a Digital Native
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PORTRAIT OF A DIGITAL NATIVE
In an increasingly digital world, are we creating a culture composed of people who can't sustain the attention to solve a deep and complex problem? Or is constant exposure to digital media pushing people -- especially students who are "digital natives" -- to become experts at analyzing information while multitasking and networking? In this story at the TechLearning website, educator Tom McHale reviews recent studies and profiles high school senior Meredith Fear, an honors student who demonstrates the prowess of a digital native as she sits in her room doing her homework while she surfs the Web, checks her school e-mail account, her Bloglines news aggregator, and Furls of an online article for her independent study -- then "quickly transitions from this to respond to group members on Instant Messenger who have attached PowerPoint slides for an upcoming class presentation." How can schools meet the learning needs of the Digital Generation?
VISIONING ABOUT DIGITAL LEARNING
Mark Prensky is a futurist and learning designer who attracted considerable attention when he published his article "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants" in 2001, in which he declared that "Our students have changed radically. Today's students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach." This link leads to Prensky's website, where visitors can explore his writings -- including articles like "Do They REALLY Think Differently? Neuroscience Says Yes","The Emerging Online Life of the Digital Native," and "What Can You Learn from a Cell Phone? Almost Anything!" Prensky gives blanket permission to link to and reprint any of his online work.
HELPING STUDENTS DEVELOP MEDIA SMARTS
A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, "Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds," finds that students in grades 3-12 spend an average of six hours and 21 minutes plugged in to some type of media each day. Accounting for multitasking, the figure jumps to about eight and a half hours when you include nearly four hours of TV viewing and 49 minutes of video game play. Comparatively, homework gets slightly less than 50 minutes of attention. "For this digital generation, electronic media is increasingly seductive, influential, and pervasive, yet most schools treat the written word as the only means of communication worthy of study. Therefore, most American students remain poorly equipped to think critically about, and express themselves through, the media that defines them." (Read the story and find a link to the report at the Edutopia website.
CoSN Fast Forwards to the Year 2010 in New Report
In a report released last week, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) identifies the technologies that have the potential to reshape education by 2010, and explores how technology decision-makers need to plan ahead. Digital Learning Spaces 2010 demonstrates how technology can be used to customize learning environments for children, enhancing their educational experiences. The report is the latest in a series of reports by CoSN that are designed to promote and support the use of new technologies in K-12 education. The report will be formally released today via a webcast, the first of CoSN's 2005-2006 Internet & Education Webcast Series.
The report begins with three examples of the digital classrooms we could see in 2010, the technologies that would make them possible, and the ways they will maximize student learning. All the examples-an integrated math/science class, a fifth-grade elementary school class, and two virtual student learning experiences-demonstrate the learning capabilities schools can provide in five years if they begin implementing these technologies now.
For the full story, visit:
The Multi-Tasking Student — A New Paradigm
The ability of students to multi-task with technology carries major ramifications for classroom instruction and decision making, says Illinois superintendent Alan Simon in this insightful article from School Administrator (April 2005). "For years, educators and parents have been concerned that students are easily distracted and unable to complete in-depth assignments," he writes. "For years students have complained that school moves too slowly and does not interest them. Is it the subject or is it the speed of the transmission of information? Is it possible that students are really bored and are capable of doing more than one simple task? Is it possible that schooling is not challenging to the techno tasker? Is it possible that an attention deficit is really an asset or even a legitimate human mutation?
Is Technology Just for Boys?
Sherry Turkle, one of the co-chairs of the American Association of University Women's 15-member Commission on Technology, Gender, and Teacher Education, shares her thoughts on issues arising from the commission's report.*
Visioning about Education's Future
(Large PDF File)
This "visioning exercise" sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2002 produced a series of articles and essays by some of the leading thinkers on education and technology. Throughout Visions 2020: Transforming Education and Training Through Advanced Technologies, the various authors present vignettes that help us understand what technology-assisted teaching and learning could look like in the future. Among the authors: Chris Dede, Milton Chen, Microsoft research manager Randy Hinrichs, NEA executive director John Wilson and Marco Polo Foundation president Caleb Schutz. Fascinating reading! (2.3 mg PDF file)
THE DIGITAL DISCONNECT
In 2002, The American Institutes for Research was commissioned by the Pew Internet & American Life Project to conduct a qualitative study of the attitudes and behaviors of Internet-using public middle and high school students drawn from across the country. The study is based primarily on information gathered from 14 gender-balanced, racially diverse focus groups of 136 students, drawn from 36 different schools. The study concluded that "many schools and teachers have not yet recognized--much less responded to--the new ways students communicate and access information over the Internet. Students report that there is a substantial disconnect between how they use the Internet for school and how they use the Internet during the school day and under teacher direction."
PARTNERSHIP FOR 21ST CENTURY SKILLS
This organization bills itself as "the leading advocacy organization infusing 21st century skills into education" and it probably is -- considering the major technology companies and education groups involved. This is a "must visit" website for anyone keeping up with the progress of digital education in U.S. schools. Key reports (see below) set out the 21st Century Skills education agenda, and news updates share information about a variety of state and local initiatives. There's also a series of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy Maps that illustrate the intersection ICT Literacy and core academic subjects. A free newsletter keeps you up-to-date on website developments.
REPORT: LEARNING FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
This report from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills might be described as Silicon Valley's "manifesto" on education in the new millennium. Most partners are technology companies, who joined with NEA, USED, and several education consortiums in 2002 to form a public-private organization "to create a successful model of learning for this millennium that incorporates 21st Century skills into our system of education." "Learning for the 21st Century" lays out the arguments for change, identifies key curriculum elements, and offers nine steps toward building momentum for implementation. This document and a companion piece, "The Road to 21st Century Learning: A Policymaker's Guide to 21st Century Skills," are driving much of the education investment of key partners like Microsoft, Apple, Dell and Cisco Systems.
PRESENTATION ON EDUCATING "NET GEN
Diana Oblinger, co-editor of "Educating the Net Generation" (see above) was the featured speaker during this webcast sponsored by the Learning Times Network. The presentation has been archived at the site and you can access it at no cost if you go through free membership registration. (This is a great site for exploring digital education issues.) In her presentation "Is it Age or IT? First Steps Toward Understanding the Net Generation," Oblinger reviews recent research and key findings from the book. Although her audience is mostly higher education folks, the information truly applies to K-12 educators.
REPORT: LITERACY IN THE DIGITAL AGE
In 2003, the Metiri Group and the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) published seminal study, "21st Century Skills: Literacy in the Digital Age," based on two years of research. The 88-page report includes an executive summary which showcases the skills students will need to thrive in a technological, global environment. They're presented as "skill clusters" that parallel rigorous academic standards. The four skill clusters are digital age literacy; inventive thinking; high productivity; and effective communication. This link will download the 800k PDF version of the report. There's also a web-readable version:
. And if you just want a quick overview, an 8-page brochure offers the study's highlights and summarizes the set of 21st Century skills identified by the researchers. (2.3mg PDF File)
THE PATH TO TEACHER LEADERSHIP IN TECHNOLOGY
How do schools move beyond the "slow revolution" of technology adoption/integration? This article published in the journal Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (2002) argues that change agents must move beyond the traditional teacher adoption models (learner/ adopter/ colearner/ reaffirmer) by adding a fifth adoption stage: teacher as leader. In the teacher-leader stage, experienced teachers expanded their roles to become active researchers who carefully observe their own practice, collect data, share their improvements in practice with their peers, and teach new members of their virtual learning community. The authors discuss what they consider a potential downside of such leadership development -- "job mobility" -- and look at research on ways to "buffer" against the threat of teacher departures to "greener" pastures.
EDUCATING THE NET GENERATION
The aptitudes, attitudes, expectations, and learning styles of Net Generation students (born after 1980) reflect the environment in which they were raised -- a digital world that's decidedly different from that which existed when most of today's teachers were growing up. What are the implications for educators? This collection of essays was prepared for a higher education audience, but the core research is plenty pertinent for K-12 teacher leaders. At this page, you can download the entire book (it's free) or choose selections of particular interest. We recommend Selection 2, "Is It Age or IT: First Steps Toward Understanding the Net Generation." Written by editors Diana and James Oblinger, this article is rich with recent research on the characteristics of Net Gen'ers, and it explodes several myths about what Digital Kids expect in school.
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