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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Closing the Gap Between Education and Technology by Chris Riedel

According to Apple curriculum evangelist Mark Benno, we live in a time when "our kids are being pushed harder, faster, and in ways we never would have imagined." And that, he insisted, is creating a variety of challenges for today's educators.

During his recent talk at the FETC 2009 conference in Orlando, FL, Benno opened with an interesting factoid: "Nine out of 10 students don't wear wristwatches," he said. "And the one that does doesn't use it as a timepiece; they use it to make a fashion statement." So why does that matter? It matters, said Benno, because it speaks to the fact that kids use technology in very different ways from what most of us are used to.

From cell phones to iPods to a wide array of Web-based tools, "kids today are very fluid and open about their use of technology," Benno said. And if we are going to prepare them for a world that is constantly changing, he added, we need to rethink the ways we use and interact with these very same tools in the classroom.
Not so long ago, Benno mused, students learned by consuming professionally developed media. Audio, video, written documents; things were developed, reviewed, approved by committee, and then, after all that, produced and distributed.

But now students are producing their own media. From videos to podcasting to blogs, kids are creating the content themselves, or else interacting with media that is being produced by their friends and contemporaries. And that has a lot of educators struggling to keep up.