Back Seat Conversation

On our recent driving vacation, it was quite interesting to listen to the back seat discussion from two teenagers – my daughter and a long time close family friend. As one might expect, there was lots to share, and the conversation easily wandered from topic to topic without ever missing a beat. I was interested in how various aspects of technology wove through the discussion.

This past year, each of the girls took at least one elearning course. Things they liked about the elearning environment were:

  • flexibility
  • scheduling your own time
  • independence
  • enjoy working online (not paper based)
  • work with students with similar abilities (profiles of online learning candidates)

These girls live in a connected world. They talked about being connected, in a good way. They can barely remember not being connected. I note their keen ability to find free wifi networks to connect to. Both girls read and follow blogs. Both write their own blogs based on their own individual interests. One has a tumblr based photography blog to track and share photography of interest. The other reads and writes fan fiction, and uses other social media tools to develop an audience.  Without any prompting from me, they talked about finding people with like interests, sharing and developing a “real audience” to share their interests and passions.

I couldn’t help but take note of their their ongoing but subtle search for wifi – not because they didn’t enjoy the vacation activities, but because they are passionate about this aspect of their lives. They are used to being connected with wifi at home and school. Being online is simply part of their lives.

Classroom activities need to tap student passions. I encourage all teachers to find way ways to use and leverage online sharing and collaboration tools to help capture student passion for learning.

~Mark

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