Friday, April 16, 2010




Pondering this topic, the song “Changes” by David Bowie runs through my mind. As I am a “digital immigrant” trying to educate in a new “digital native” world, I am adapting my methods by implementing big changes. The kind of teaching practices I employed with my Spanish students during my first year of teaching (14 years ago) are quite different than the techniques I utilize now. The internet has changed the way I view and access information today. In addition, the means of research used by today’s students are the only methods they have ever known.

Today’s students use the internet to access practically all their information. The internet is utilized for two purposes: the Read-Web and the Write-Web. Dan Gillmor elaborates more on this theory in a chapter entitled the “Read-Write Web” in his book, We the Media. When one seeks access to literature, research, and various texts, students explore various websites and databases by using search engines and other tools. When producing their interpretation of their findings, students apply content by implementing, sharing, uploading, and editing information; analyze content by comparing, organizing, deconstructing, integrating, and tagging; and finally evaluate by critiquing, experimenting, collaborating, networking, and reflecting. Just as Tom March wrote in his article, I tried to “look for the sparks that create insights, the contrasts that excite problem solving, the bells and whistles that motivate, the passion that inspires.” In this capacity the internet serves me well.

One great effect the internet has had upon students is that the internet provides a means to transfer content learned to a real-world context. For example, in one single project, a student may study the core subjects of Economics, Geography, History, Government and Civics. In one example of a Digital Youth Project: Nafiza, instead of just memorizing facts about three countries, she and other students transfer the content to a real-world context in a virtual world with characters, background and dialogue. Ideas are connected across disciplines and illustrated. Within the same project, students practice 21st Century themes such as global awareness and civic literacy. By actively participating in these internet activities, students will encourage curiosity and involvement in world affairs, which may initiate change throughout society. A particular student’s deliberation may lead to others’ participation.

In a different example of a Digital Youth Project: Luis, connections over the internet take a prominent role. Luis develops Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy. Drawing on multiple forms of expertise enables Luis and his peers to be better able to see the relationship between subject knowledge and the world around them. Luis also develops civic literacy, as he chooses to educate fellow citizens. His reaching out to others advocates a call to action, which may lead to multicultural exchange for the betterment of all.

Unlike the last five to ten years, the internet has become a significant research source employed by students for school-related tasks. They look to the internet for resources when doing homework and/or projects; download podcasts for classes; use email (with the teacher) to obtain homework assignments or answer questions about projects; and use wikis, blogs, and social networks. Students even use Facebook as a way to connect with exchange-student friends from around the world. (Facebook was the communication tool of choice to maintain relationships established during annual Croatia-U.S. student-exchange at my school.)

So again, I would reiterate that change has come, change is here, and that one must be flexible in internet practices.


Digital Youth Portrait: Luis (part of the Digital Education Project)

Digital Youth Portrait: Nafiza (part of the Digital Education Project)

Gillmor, D. (2004). We the Media - Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People. eBook distributed by Authorama – Classic Literature. Licensed under Creative Commons. Retrieved at

March, T. (2005). “Working the web for education. Theory and practice on integrating the web for learning.”

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9:5. Retrieved at

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