Being a “digital native” in today’s world isn’t a choice our students make, says superintendent Gerry Hudson. In today’s parlance, it is what it is.
Our students grew up with technology; it’s their lifestyle. This familiarity with technology will make them the “drivers of revolutionary innovation,” Hudson says. “As their educators, we can also be drivers,” he says, “or we will end up being just the passengers.”
It’s a problem. What to do, for example, with cell phones? Hoping to control the negatives of cell phone use –not just the distraction, but also texting, sexting, and bullying – many schools have banned cell phones during the school day. But do students actually leave them at home or in their lockers? Or is it the technological equivalent of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”? And what about teachers? Do we tell students they can’t have cell phones while teachers wear them on their belts?
Some parents insist that their child have a cell phone with him or her at all times in case of emergency or just in case practice is cancelled. They may be furious if the principal confiscates their child’s phone even if the child is using it during math class. And do teachers really want to interrupt their lessons to become the cellphone police?
Hudson insists that a big part of the problem with cell phones is that students were never taught to use them appropriately. We hand them out to our kids with no directions, he says, assuming they’ll know what to do. It’s an example of our being passengers instead of drivers.
When it comes to technology, it’s clear that schools have competing issues of control and integration. To develop a comprehensive plan, districts need administrators that have worked hard to understand and use technology themselves. They may not be natives, but they have to learn to speak digital with a barely detectable accent.