Our children and youth are immersed in technologies that give them opportunities no previous generation has enjoyed. How will schools respond?

Some weeks ago, I attended a family reunion where the children ranged from age 10 to 18. As we were all talking, someone asked a question about a specific movie. Immediately, every kid pulled out a smartphone, and within 30 seconds they all had answers. Some went straight to the Internet Movie Database (using a smartphone app, of course); two quickly searched Yahoo! for movie reviews; others went to their favorite sites to sample public opinion.

A few days later, I had another enlightening experience. A colleague’s 7-year-old son, Mikey, has his own iPad courtesy of his grandpa. A week ago, he was visiting our lab and wanted to print something from his iPad. His dad said that he would have to wait until he got home because although our new printer had Bluetooth access, nobody had yet figured out how to make it work. Mikey got to work and had his document printing in 10 minutes.

These stories give me hope for our current and future generations of learners. To them, the smartphone, the Internet, and everything technological are not “tools” at all—they simply are. Just as we don’t think about the existence of air, they don’t question the existence of technology and media. They expect technology to be there, and they expect it to do whatever they want it to do. 

How Schools Need to Respond

Teachers can access an enormous amount of curriculum content online in a variety of formats, including audio and video pieces that can help bring the material to life for students. These materials are often free. Helpful sites include..

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