The Digital Natives roll up their sleeves

About mid-morning, my 16yr old daughter called me from school and asked me to help her get an interview transcript that was on her computer.

Four years ago, when my older daughter was in high school, I would have printed that document and driven to the school to deliver it.

Not today.

Today, I found the document on YD's computer, opened a browser, logged in to Google Docs, uploaded her file to my Google Docs account, and set the sharing settings so that YD could log in from school and get the document, which she did.

No one had to drive to the high school. No child had to stand outside in the rain waiting for parental delivery. The file traveled on it's own through the cloud and made it to school on time.

This child is a digital native. She makes digital movies and uploads them to her own YouTube account. She's on Facebook and keeps tight control over the privacy settings. She helps the whole family watch TV since she knows how to navigate the waters of Hulu, Megavideo, and other sketchier sites.

And, in her high school AP Euro or AP history classes, she routinely uses Google Docs to collaborate on papers and study guides with her classmates.

But when it comes to her science classes...

It's a different story.

It's been my impression that many science teachers are on wrong side of the gap when it comes to the digital divide.

I have more to say about this later, but in the meantime, what do you think?

Does it seem like high school science teachers use computing tools with their classes (i.e. Google Docs, social media, other web tools) as much as teachers in other areas?


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Science classes for my son have differed from other classes mainly in requiring very little writing. Fill in the blanks and sketch what you see are about all that are required, and their is very little that computational tools or social media would do to assist in those tasks. Perhaps next year when he has AP chemistry he'll have to keep a lab notebook as well, but again there is little that social media can do to make that better. In real chem labs, people still use paper notebooks, because contaminating a laptop by using it with gloves on is not something anyone wants to pay for.

Quite frankly, much of the social media has little use in science or science education. Sharing document drafts is mildly useful, though for the most part I've found it easier to work with separate files and explicit hand off of turns to write rather than trying to deal with shared documents like Google docs.

I don't think the social media issue is so important, the BIG problem is that the general lack of computer use in the science courses carries over to the science.

This makes it hard in areas like bioinformatics or data analysis. We would like the life science teachers to have students use collaborative programs like spread sheets in Google Docs or text editors, but since the teachers don't use the tools themselves, many don't know how to use them.

I wonder if it has something to do with the people who teach the subjects. Teachers of subjects like Literature, Geography, History etc are users of technology whereas science people are creators of technology. They have a different interest in the various media. What do you think?

This is all down to strategy use and independent of what teachers are teaching! All teachers need to become role models to their students... how does this occur? They need professional development. They may not think of using google docs... but more likely they may not know what google docs or the cloud is. I had a similar problem two nights ago... the school had loaned me an ipad.. it has no usb slots (stupid apple).. no way to get info onto it. So I uploaded my schedule to google docs so i could use it to keep track... google docs is a simple solution to many such problems. We don't need better teachers, we need more time to teach the teachers!

By Cyberspaced (not verified) on 06 Apr 2011 #permalink