Tuesday, October 22, 2013

But what if my kid can't use an encyclopedia?!

My morning routine started like it normally does, wake up, check Twitter, check Facebook, get kids ready for school... As I was checking Facebook this morning, I came across the following post (Original post was something along the lines of "I hate that the kids are getting iPads") and 42 responses...

These two are my favorite, but let me pick out the best parts for you.

It looks like somebody missed the memo that Encyclopedia Britannica stopped printing encyclopedias after its 2010 volume, citing that it had long since moved toward a business focus on its online educational materials. 

And I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but as a parent of 3 awesome kids, I do not wake up in the morning saying, "I hope your life is hard, because mine was, and I made it." I work my butt off to make sure they have the tools they need to be successful. I want them to not only have the amazing experiences I did growing up, but to give them bigger, better, more exciting opportunities. And then I want them to share those experiences with the world.

To quote Scott McLeod, whose video I'm about to share with you, "I want to tell you a different story about youth and technology." 

What about the students in my colleague Erin Olson's classroom who are using *gasp* Twitter to share their voice? Or the students in my own classroom who, when asked to identify what they NEEDED in their education, came up with ideas like technology, internship opportunities, hands-on learning, and personalized learning opportunities. My students, who were able to learn from people across Iowa, Hawaii, Minnesota, Sweden, and South Africa. My children, who travelled through space using their iPads. Kids are doing amazing things, and experiencing life outside of their four classroom walls, and writing, publishing, and creating for a real life audience.

Setting our kids up for failure isn't handing them iPads. Setting our kids up for failure is continuing to educate them in a system that was built for how we lived 100 years ago. We cannot keep preparing students for a world that will not exist by the time they are ready to enter the job market. And it's not just a world that won't exist, but a world that doesn't exist. Even living in rural Iowa, you have to see how even something as basic to us as farming has changed in the last 10 years.

We're not quite here yet, but check out John Deere's vision of the future of farming:

If you are lucky enough to have students in a district where they've been provided with devices that will allow them to produce, publish, create, explore, and contribute to the world around them, get excited! Challenge your students and their teachers to use that technology to do something amazing; to transform their educational experience. But please, please don't underestimate the amazing opportunities being offered to children all across the globe as technology becomes faster, cheaper, and easier to use.


  1. Thank you for the clarity and the sanity....we educators need to try and catch up to the bus...BYOD, global ed, inquiry and HOT (Aimee Buckner - Higher Order Thinking). Let's develop these 21st century learning resources and strategies together.

    1. Thanks for the comment. One of the things that is so powerful, as you mention, is the inquiry and higher order thinking - we can stretch our students' understanding, network, impact, etc. using technology. You start doing higher level work that MEANS something, as opposed to worksheets. At least in a GOOD environment you do. In other places you end up with digital worksheets...