As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” One of the major tools that is accelerating this change is technology. It is our role as educators to empower students so that they can flourish and shape this hyper-connected, high tech-world. To guide children on their journey so they have the opportunity to make a change, to follow a dream, to create, to share and to connect to others. But what is this tool that has allowed children and adults to “change the world” for the better? It is the World Wide Web.
But how has the web given children this platform?
Prior to the Web there was six degrees of separations in people’s every day lives. That means that “everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people.” Or so argued social psychologist Stanley Milgram. The web has changed this indefinitely. It has made us more connected, it has made the impossible, possible. The Web has allowed us to have friendships and understandings with like minded people thousands of miles away. No longer does physical distance play a part to connect, to share, and to collaborate with like minded people.
What are the different ways children are empower-ED using the internet?
Children are already living and shaping the world they are growing up in. Popular culture is being directed by children as young as 9 years old! Caine was the subject to a documentary made by the filmmaker Nirvana Mullick called Caine’s Arcade. It is brilliant!
Caine created an arcade out of cardboard boxes and everyday objects. The film soon became a viral hit (after a flash-mob organised by the filmmaker.) Soon celebrities such as Jack Black were queuing round the block to play in Caine’s Arcade. The impact the film has had can be seen here. It is an amazing idea and shows how one video can become a movement. Schools across the world take part in Caine Arcades projects. Last year our students took part in 2 workshop mornings taking these values onboard and created some stunning inventions.
Martha Payne started blogging with the subtitle “One primary school pupil’s daily dose of school dinners” on her blog Never Seconds. Soon she was interesting celebrities such as Jamie Oliver and within 2 years had hits of over 10 million. Her blog brought about real change for her friends and other children in the region. Allowing all children access to unlimited servings of fruit, vegetables and bread. Amazing achievement from “just” one blog.
A 17 year old created a twitter account to share all the positive things that his classmates were doing. Here was a student taking control of his digital footprint, sharing and connecting with the wider world.
The one factor that is constant across all these examples? The Web.
How have educators empower-ED children?
Teachers have to like students for students to like teachers. Without this there will be no learning taking place. Whether it is online or offline…it is all the same. Teachers must believe in their students and really connect with them. Find out their interests, guide and model using technology in positive, inspiring manners so that they can feel empowered. Because every kid needs a champion.
Educators believe in what people can make possible and show children 21st Century skills so that they can create, innovate and cultivate curiosity.
What am I doing?
I am trying to give my students a head start by giving them 21st Century Skills so that they are empowered like Caine and Martha. Giving children skills that they will need later in life (life worthy skills) is a way of empowering the children in my class.
- I am blogging with children who are 6 and 7 years olds (any comments would be gratefully received by similar class’s around the world!)
- I am teaching children how to make positive comments on other children’s blogs
- I am teaching them how to utilise the power of google and other search engines
- I am teaching children about their digital footprint and how being a good citizen offline is really the same as being online.
- I am beginning to talk about Twitter in the class and the massive potential that this holds with a PLN
- I am allowing more personalised learning opportunities and giving children more opportunities to learn at their own time.
- I am allowing children to play with Scratch and we will be coding, this week, in the hour of code
I know there is much more that I can do. It is only start, I would like to look into gaming in the classroom ( minecraft would fit perfectly into our current unit). I am interested in looking more at the flipped classroom model and how that could potentially fit into an elementary classroom. But
Innovation in education isn’t about the latest gadget or app, or about how adept a student is at using a smartphone to consume the latest Internet meme. It’s about how technological tools can empower students to become who they want to be, and who we need them to be — the kind of children and young people who ask, “What can I improve? How can I help? What can I build?”
Are we teaching life-worthy skills? Are we empowering our students for success?