By: Paige Ulevich
When he was three years old, my nephew taught his father and me how to use a universal remote. Now that he’s nine, I enjoy telling him, “When I was your age, I was the remote!” To which he usually replies, “Yeah, my dad likes to tell me about the old days, too.”
The last time he stayed overnight, my nephew and I spent the evening watching Netflix and comparing his iPod to my Galaxy Note. It was then that I realized his view of information technology was completely different from mine.
For most of my life, the big three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, set their programming schedules, and we planned our lives around our favorite shows. This meant that on Friday nights my brother and I had to finish our dinner, take a bath and be in our pajamas before 8:00 p.m. to watch The Incredible Hulk. Because if you weren’t in front of a television when an episode aired, you had to wait until the summer reruns.
While the miracle of video recording devices finally freed us from the tyranny of network schedules, allowing us to record our favorite shows and watch them when it was convenient for us, the networks still controlled the content.
Even after Netflix expanded our choices exponentially, and the World Wide Web was firmly entrenched in our daily lives, the internet was still being used primarily as a source of information rather than as a means to gather feedback. I realized that even though we had access to a vast number of “channels,” over the last decade, Facebook, Twitter and the open source movement have completely shifted the paradigm.
While today’s kids are now learning to code, program and develop apps while they’re still in grade school, many district leaders still view the internet as a tool to only disseminate information from their experts to the everyday community. Unfortunately, they have failed to realize that for the children of the Millennial Generation and Generation Z, major advances in information technology have made it easy for them to engage in two-way dialogues. The internet has provided us with more and more ways to share, interact and collaborate.
As an educator, you must be able to answer the following questions: Have you embraced the new paradigm? Are you ready to use technology to facilitate creativity and collaboration? Are you comfortable communicating in ways that weren’t possible even 10 years ago?
Even though many Gen Xers still struggle with the practical uses of the internet for two-way dialogue, if you don’t get up to speed and learn how to reach today’s tech-savvy students, finding a child to program your remote control will be the least of your concerns.