Do young people squander learning opportunities?

As part of an editorial, Dane Anderson, the editor-in-chief for the student newspaper at Lancaster High School in Lancaster, California, writes that the generation of the “first students of the 21st century” enter a world of great innovation but, at the same time, get distracted by entertaining but irrelevant apps.

He writes in The Soaring Source:

The liberalization and availability of information behooves my generation to push the boundaries of human intellect because of the ubiquitous potential presented by technology, and a failure to capitalize on this once-in-a-millennium opportunity would be arrantly insulting to all of those before us who devoted themselves to the pursuit of a greater understanding on the world we live in. Everyone now has the chance to master the fields and subjects that interest them most, and few activities bring more fulfillment than understanding and appreciating the significance of scientific, historical, mathematical, cultural, or anthropological perspectives.

Lars Norqvist, a doctoral student at Umeå University in Sweden, is writing a dissertation about this very topic.

“When young learners have described learning situations or how they learn, I have been able to relate it to how education is designed by, for instance, decision-makers and school leaders,” he was quoted as saying in a university press release.

“I have also seen that it’s possible,” he said, “to relate learning to the potential and possibilities offered by (information and communication technologies, a.k.a., electronic devices). How learning is valued and understood guides the learners’ understanding of how they can or would like to use technology. Furthermore, the learning can be tied to various perspectives of ICTs such as information, communication, and technology.”

In his research, Mr Norqvist determined that pictures drawn by children, based upon their own views of learning situations, can then be used by educators as a basis for interviews on how learning is understood.

If only we could convince teenagers to use the Safari app on their iPhone a little more frequently and the Instagram app a little less frequently, perhaps they could learn something themselves from the iPhone, rather than us educators trying to figure out what the pics they view has to do with the learning process.

Good research out of Sweden and an interesting perspective from a California student lead me to conclude that technology, properly understood and incorporated into a learning environment, can bring great rewards.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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