Monday, October 16, 2006

Samantha's podcast for my AT&T presentation...

Samantha Velez is an example, one of many, of a terrifically engaged student. Samantha is an example of what I frequently refer to as a "self-determined" learner. Last year (2005-2006), Samantha participated in the IT Leadership Academy Innovation Challenge program. While she is not a "techie," she is a prime example of the new culture of students entering our schools and workforces - the "digital natives" of the 21st century. By "digital native," I mean she is fully fluent in the tools - web surfing, cell phones, IM-ing, text messaging, music and video downloading - that allow her to create her own social networks, to collaborate, communicate, and deal with new media archetypes in a natural, socially and educationally productive way.

Too often, we adults dismiss our kids who spend (according to recent studies by the Pew Foundation) up to 3 hours a day using these new tools of communication – cell phones and the web – as being socially withdrawn “geeks” who are becoming disconnected from the “reality” that the adults ("digital immigrants") grew up with. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reality in the 21st century, whether in work, play, or social interactions, is based on the power of our technology to connect and build real relationships, either face-to-face or across time and international borders.

We do our students a terrible disservice by not paying attention to the “cultural” shifts currently underway. It’s not about the technology; it is about a new, emerging culture of global digital natives and we must be responsive or continue to lose ground in educating the next generation.

Recently, I was invited to make a presentation about new communication tools and their implications in education, workforce development, and economic growth to a group of AT&T managers. To demonstrate my point, I asked Samantha Velez to use her cell phone to create a podcast on this web site that I could use in my presentation. Here is her response. Please listen carefully and you will hear a message from a young woman from Waterbury’s Crosby High School who is wiser and mature beyond her years. She is one of many I have had the pleasure of working with over the past several years of my work at the Center for 21st Century Skills @ Education Connection.

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