The Power of Glass Schools

And they learn best how...Featured Distinguished Presenter from Discovery Education and Director of Social Media and Online Presence, Steve Dembo explored The Power of Glass Schools leading with Marc Prensky‘s term, digital natives. Defining them as multi-taskers preferring graphics before text, nonlinear learners functioning best when networked, preferring games to serious work, Steve asked what does a tribe of digital natives look like? More importantly, what is the tribe’s learning preference? Steve turned to digital media ~ The Medieval Helpdesk (with English Subtitles) ~ for help.

Segueing to Joe’s Non-Netbook, Steve offered an interesting mashup of the first video created by a Science Leadership Academy student.

Digital tribes. They’re coming from the cloud and that really redefines digital. Is there a place for books in a digital tribe’s learning landscape? Where are the system preferences? How do I interact with the text? Where are the graphics? And when do I get to compose, create, and produce learning? Where are my stretch goals? How can I become invested in my learning process? Definitely not rhetorical. Digital tribes need digital learning, and that’s not just eBooks. To engage M2 learners, you really need to think beyond the book because tribes think outside the box.

DE Techbooks

Understanding digital natives and the collaborative impact of cloud computing, Discovery Education created 4 new digital textbooks to immerse students in the curriculum. When you think digital textbook, you visualize students on laptops, but that is not always true. Discovery used the 5 E model. When you open DE digital textbooks, you will notice what is not there: no table of contents, no page numbers. What is there: live content once a month with webinars, interactives, correlation to state standards, teacher resources, labs, real-time feedback, relevant and rigorous curriculum, and for districts making transition decisions, long-term cost effectiveness.

Truth be told, today’s students want to interact with content. They want touch screens and have educational expectations. College Confidential is a site for college expectations; students, parents, and colleges are on this website, and Steve notes there is a LOT of anxiety out there. Students often misuse the site, and as adults we question where they get their ideas in this social space. And the answer is from each other. Students need mentoring for how they create their digital space but unfortunately, they are not waiting for us to model appropriate use. Will that impact their future. Absolutely.

Students want feedback, and to demonstrate that Steve showed us how one student applied for a job. Note he is creative, knows the space he wanted to exist in, and was wonderful. Judson Collier didn’t get that job because he was still in high school but the company did give him a special job until he graduated. The company knew he could represent them well, so as a high school student, he bypassed the traditional College Confidential approach and did a work around, bypassing many steps. Check his skill sets in his application video.

Stop-Motion App-uh-lu-cat-ion from Judson Collier on Vimeo.

Today’s leaders in corporate America are not on the golf course; they have an online presence in social media. They are the people organizing Facebook campaigns and have 10,000 followers on Pinterest. They have an online presence. And they get the jobs because they know how to represent themselves. Marketing is vital in the changing economic landscape, whether you want a job, an acceptance letter, or a scholarship. The old school paper application just doesn’t get the job.  The new school approach–a video–will get you noticed and maybe even win the prize you sought–if the video differentiates you from everyone else and shows your unique skill sets.

Create, Cultivate, Maintain

Today’s student is mastering media, not just consuming, and that mastery may just give them that final seat and an acceptance letter or a spot in a scholarship. How students represent themselves can elevate them over other people and students know how to rig the Google search: create, cultivate, and maintain their presence. Marketing yourself is a critical skill for students (and adults) if you will accomplish real-world things. Marketing for the 21st century is often brilliant ideas–invented by a kid.

Quality is critical in marketing yourself, and the more creative you become in the process, the more likely you will succeed in your goal. If students put themselves in a good landing place to create their landing space and use it wisely, they have created a space for success.

We have changed the way we share things in real time in significant ways. Even digital portfolios have changed; no longer are they a LiveBinder collection of projects. What they are is a collection of digital media that prove mastery in: a) media creations and b) marketing themselves. Our cultivation, creation, and mastery in sharing has changed as well. We use devices to monitor and register aspects of what we do from a health perspective and we record them online. People who use the element of social accountability help keep them on track. The support group of cheerleaders online is a revolution, yet schools lock down at teacher and administrator level more things every day, week, month.

People–most adults– can see the value but they have not yet made a fundamental cultural change. Practice, express, nurture. Web 2.0 = empowerment in the hands of teachers, students, and administrators. But what we see is a lack of shifting cultural mindsets about what they fear most. Media production today is different. Blogs don’t need to be big, long, huge; it can be as simple as a photo and 3 sentences. Ambient Intimacy is the term: whether f2f or not, light touches over time make people feel connected. Posterous makes blogging as easy as an email; it’s where the blogging market has gone. Scale back expectations instead of cramming so much “stuff” into a post, like the Friday newsletter. With Posterous, you can blog while you are literally on the move. Simple maintenance; take a picture, maybe some short text. Total transparency. Capture and share actively. Posterous in the hands of students changes Mother’s favorite after-school question: What did you do today? Now they know before they get home. Keep it incredibly simple.

Where has the market gone today? Devices that you can add to almost anything and receive a Twitter tweet. And it’s gone younger. Aiden Dembo is 5 years old. He has his own blog, and he is one tech savvy youngster. He is the future, and he redefines head start. What does the future look like? Be the one to invent it, and while you’re at it, get ready for Aiden. He’s coming from the cloud and I truly hope you’re in it with him.

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  1. Website Value said:

    This is lovely. I specially like that kid with the \I looooooooooooooooove making people happy\ sign, he’s really nice. Thanks for sharing! Really brought a smile on my face.

    • RJ Stangherlin said:

      Thanks, Website Value, for commenting. Aiden is one special 5 year old, and I think his first teacher is in for a pleasant surprise.

  2. Peg Hartwig said:

    I showcased this post and videos in my class yesterday. My students have been encouraged all year by me to embrace the 21st c learning through online access to their text. Most students have been happy with the result, but suddenly 10 classroom copies of my hardcover texts were gone… Needless to say, I was very frustrated, as students have the option to check books out of the library if they want a hard copy. This post helped me give my students a reality check. Now until i get my books back,I am going to quit using the book altogether! Everything I do will be digital…. Maybe I’m taking an extreme here, but find it sad that some students are complacent about the importance of 21st c. Learning Skills.

    • Steve Dembo said:

      Hey Peg. Wow, that sounds pretty crazy. I was recently talking to someone who has basically stated that the digital textbook is a privilege. If the students can’t be responsible enough to use class resource appropriately, they go back to the traditional methods. It’s an interesting spin on things. Good luck!

  3. RJ Stangherlin said:

    Hi, Peg.

    First, thank you so much for showcasing the post and videos; Steve is a superb presenter and if I didn’t link to his presentation, we can send it your way. It was fantastic, as always.

    As for taking an extreme, I doubt you are. I went paperless well over a decade, before it was vogue and while it was still more challenging. Ditch the books. Have you seen Discovery’s new digital textbooks? If not, let me know and I’ll see if we can get you a sneak preview (although I think you’re in the DEN and a blogger and would have access).

    If you can within the parameters of your system, I would suggest you ditch the conventional book and find that proverbial better mousetrap. Create the future; your students will love what you envision.

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