“Hey dad, can I have a YouTube channel?” my son asked.
“What kind of a channel would you create?” I asked.
“Maybe a channel showing how to create things in Minecraft. But there’s already a lot out there. What if I had a channel showing kids how to fix things? Or maybe I could test whether or not things in cartoons could happen in real life. You know how cartoons will have a balloon that goes out and it propels a toy car? Ever tried that? It won’t work. The balloon deflates and the car just stays there.”
I nod as he continues. “What if I did a YouTube channel where I showed the evolution of cartoons? Or maybe a YouTube channel devoted to reviewing the best and worst elevator music. Or maybe I could do top ten lists of political commercials from the past.”
Elevator music? Political campaign commercials? My kid is odd. I get it. But that’s the beauty of YouTube. You don’t have to be odd alone.
Truthfully, I feel mixed about this desire to publish on YouTube. I have seen the dark side of the fame and the metrics and the cultural obsession with fame. And yet, there’s this other reality that intrigues me. My son wants to create videos and share them with the world.
Last year, when I surveyed students on how they used technology, 98% of them had never created and edited a video. None of them had created a Scratch video game. Less than one percent of them had blogged before.
I also asked them the following questions:
The results were interesting. Inevitably, I had one group of uncritical digital consumers and the other group who were digital creators. This second group of students were also the same students who would curate what they found fascinating. They were the ones who viewed technology as a chance to solve problems. I found it interesting that this second group actually spent slightly less time using their devices than the digital consumers. They were also more likely to think intentionally about the medium itself.
It has me thinking that the new digital divide is about how we use technology. Students aren’t digital natives. They’re consumer natives coming out of a consumer culture.
Here’s the hard part: the few kids who could answer these questions nearly always described things they were doing outside school. Which has me thinking that if we want to bridge this new digital divide, we need to quit viewing technology as a method of content delivery and thinking about how we can use technology for connective and creative purposes.
If you enjoyed this post and your curious about this topic, feel free to consider the following:
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- Check out the free blended learning resources like the Wonder Day Project or the Student Blogging Toolkit or the Digital Coaching Questions.
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