Speaking their digital language

David Warlick posted about an e-mail he received from Scott Mooney:

In the room were 20 or so 19-20 year-olds, most with their own laptops, mobile phones, iPods, living in the world that we talk about all the time. During my talk, I brought up the present and future of modern tools, such as Web 2.0 and virtual worlds. I thought their eyes would light up, like I was now talking their language. In reality, you could hear a pin drop in that room. I was confused, so I asked if anyone in the room had blogged. No one. I asked if anyone knew what a wiki was. No one. I asked if anyone knew what Second Life was. No one.

Our digital language is Web 2.0. But to our students these are not web 2.0 tools…it’s just the web.

I love listening in on student conversations to hear about the latest and greatest things in their lives.

Don’t ask students if they know what Web 2.0 is. Ask them if they know Facebook. Which is web 2.0 but they do not need to label it that, no they just call it what it is. Web 2.0 is a label that we use to describe these tools not their label. There label is “cool!”

Second Life is an interesting one. I wonder what the average age of people in Second Life is? I would venture to say that other than University students who have to go there because their university is in world that the average age is closer to 30 rather than 20.

Why is this? Second Life is only different from their games and connected gaming consoles in the fact that there is nothing you are trying to complete. Don’t ask 19 and 20 year olds if they know of Second Life. Ask them if they know of Halo 3, Sims, Grand Turismo or any Xbox 360 Live game in which you connect with others around the world and either play with them or against them. Ask them if they know of World of Warcraft. There is no reason for them to know of Second Life. We like Second Life because it doesn’t have a gaming aspect…they don’t know about it because it doesn’t.

Is it really that strange that many 19 and 20 year olds don’t blog? Of course they blog…they just don’t see it as blogging. Not the way we in education or in the blogosphere see it. No, instead ask them how many of them post to their Facebook or Myspace page daily. How many of them write on another person’s wall (a.k.a. leave comments). No, they don’t blog the way we blog…blogging is too structured too linear. I have a hard time with Facebook; to crazy, too much stuff happening…they can’t get enough of it. I asked some 11th graders (16-17 year olds) how often they e-mail. Their responses were anywhere from once a week to, “I just empty my spam”. Of course they don’t e-mail. Facebook has a built in messaging system.

This past week I had a parent stop me in the hallway. They wanted to thank me for the presentation I gave to parents during conferences called “A guide to your digital child.” As part of the presentation, I tell parents to go home sit down with their high schooler and have their child help them start a Facebook page and then let them teach you how it works.

This parent did just that, and she wanted to thank me. No longer does her daughter close the Facebook window when she walks by the computer. The secret is out. In fact, the mom said that she often asks her daughter what she is doing and her daughter responds, “Writing on ???’s wall”.

“I know what that means now.”

Yes, it is a language we need to learn. This mother now has access to her daughter and according to her, she’s now a “cool mom” because she has a Facebook page.

Our (meaning all of ours in education) kids are great kids! They are willing to share if we are willing to learn. They are willing to teach if we are willing to listen. We have to remember to speak their language. It’s not Web 2.0, blogging, or wikis. It’s just life. Life in a digital age.

[tags]digital language[/tags]

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