I had the opportunity to attend a symposium that brought together educators and children to discuss the influence of technology on education and how children are coping with these changes.
The format of the symposium was refreshing. The panel members on the stage were all middle school and high school children and the audience had an opportunity to pose a number of questions on how children used technology pertaining to education. Here are some key takeaways from the symposium:
- There was an across the board bewilderment on the idea that Facebook could serve as a learning tool. Almost all the children in the panel said they use Facebook chat feature to discuss school related work among other things.
- Almost all the children agreed on the fact that they prefer to have face to face interactions with the teachers and also among themselves. One of them even gave an example of how one of the classmates has absolutely no social skills as she prefers to interact only through Facebook. Children recognize the fact that Facebook cannot replace in person contact and don’t want to become a zombie.
- They also don’t seem to appreciate Teachers using PowerPoint videos as much as videos and more interactive content. I believe the popularity of PowerPoint among Teachers is more to do with the fact that it helps the Teacher organize their lecture better!
- Multi-tasking seems to be natural among children. Some of the children in the panel spoke about how they are reading books, listening to music in their iPods, and chatting with their friends online all at the same time.
- When asked what are the devices that would do away with the answers included landline telephone, and Desktop PCs. There was a consensus among the children that iPad and iPhone are desirable in a classroom setup.
Just before the panel discussion, Lisa Gills, President, Integrated Educational Strategies, played a video on the concept of the Flipped Classroom. The concept is delightfully simple and is perfectly tuned to how the Gen Y children prefer to engage in learning. Here is the video.