September 30, 2007

Digital Holidaymakers

 Jings, I wish I had come up with this one. "Digital Holidaymakers".

AB reports on Maggie Irving's addition to Prensky's rather tired and simplistic notion of "digital immigrants" and "digital natives", the 'them and us' that has offered the lazy, the ignorant and the technophobe a way out of just past the technology (I have some sympathy for the latter, a good website for the second and no time for the former).

Digital Holidaymakers are that third group we all know:

What does she mean by digital holidaymakers? Quite simply, they aren’t trying to emigrate anywhere. They are quite happy where they are. Worse still, when on digital holiday, they’ll try the new customs, quite happily go through the process and then at the end of their time in ‘digital land’, go back home to their own comfortable customs - they way they do things quite satisfactorily already.

How do we turn Holidaymakers into Emigrants?
To get them out of this never-ending circle of trying, shelving and carrying on regardless Andrew's suggestions are spot on. Yes, we need permission to experiment (and fail) and yes we need to raise expectations that there is more to life than text (try a well-crafted podcast or a short video to get your point across quicker).

But I would also argue that we need to start looking at every national project, initiative, curriculum design project and learning experiment having its own new technologies specialist on the team, right from the start. Formative assessment without technology is good, but with a learning blog or online portfolio gains so much more educational traction. A cross-curricular project as part of Curriculum for Excellence work is great, but with technology actually stands a chance of becoming more than yet another short-term project.

Just as the photo of the holidaymakers' idyll would suggest, the ideal holiday of deserted palm beaches seems OK now, but it gets boring after a couple of weeks, so we shelf it, and get back to doing things the way we always did. The change we experience for two weeks on holiday is something we enjoy - we go back every year and do it again - but we still don't work out that we could change the way we live our 'real lives' to reflect what we enjoyed on the holiday.

While Learning and Teaching Scotland has an admirable new technologies staff, there are only a very small number of us. New Zealand has a smaller population than Scotland, but a team of 36 dedicated to new technologies and curriculum alone. Glow, the national intranet, has attracted a wide range of interested groups across the country, groups with expertise and a desire to see the most effective use of technology in the classroom. They could provide an incredibly powerful momentum for change in curriculum, but it would be a mistake to think this will happen naturally.

Somewhere along the line, there needs to be more alignment, perhaps, between the new technologies people (we tend to be met with "teachers won't use that, it's too new, it's too complicated", before the tool tips a year or two down the road), the mainstream technologies people (I would count Glow in this) and the curriculum development people. Maybe it's not just alignment, but integration. If we don't then we can expect some things to happen:

I don't think we're necessarily the "digital travel agents" that Maggie and AB think we are, but maybe we need to join forces in our own Star Alliance. In the airline industry I wouldn't like one group of the aeroplane to come to the party last of all: the designers make my trip enjoyable, the engineers make it feasible, the pilots make it possible and the hospitality people make it bearable. If any one of these groups is not involved in the making and continued running of the craft, in equal order, then the aircraft is no longer attractive. The Star Alliance group together these talents every day to make sure that everyone has the most comfortable, enjoyable, up-to-date, modern, technologically advanced, safe and on-time journey possible.

I'd like see more of a Star Alliance in Scottish education, why not global education, to make sure that everyone has the most comfortable, enjoyable, up-to-date, modern, technologically advanced, safe and on-time educational journey possible.


Comments

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Hi Ewan, hope you are enjoying New Zealand.I like your point about creating a kind of Star Alliance as a metaphor for integration, in order to get things happening and moving in the right direction in education. I am looking forward to attending L&T Scotland's international education coordinators' meeting in Glasgow tomorrow, which will no doubt be trying some joined up thinking in this area. There's certainly lots of scope to use ITC in developing our awareness of, and connections with, other communities.

How about this for a real digital holiday? - http://uk.news.yahoo.com/afp/20070927/tuk-britain-travel-offbeat-internet-thai-a7ad41d_2.html

Hi Ewan,
I underdstand the analogy of the "digital Holidaymaker" but I can only agree with it up to a point. When you say "at the end of their time in ‘digital land’, go back home to their own comfortable customs - they way they do things quite satisfactorily already." This implies that the digital holidaymaker can't be bothered to make the effort to do things differently. Surely we've all been in the position where we would love to change things but come up against the "brick wall " of the organisation or environment we work in. I've often left training courses or seminars enthused, only to be beaten down by the reality of the workplace. Perhaps the "digital holidaymaker" needs a "tour rep" to keep in touch with them when they "return home."

David
Are you talking about immigration control?

Can't leave a comment- too busy listening to your keynote.

I overplan all the time. Spending longer preparing than teaching sometimes.

Hi Ewan - hey I enjoyed your Keynote address this morning at ULearn. It was fantastic. Loved your humour, examples and perspective. Keep rocking!

Ewan, I have just read this post as well as listening to your keynote address this morning. One thing that stood out for me on both occasions was the fact that you described the notion of digital immigrants and digital natives as "simplistic". I quietly cheered. When this was first presented to me as an idea about 18 months ago I said then that I felt that it was a huge generalisation, especially as I was also being told that I couldn't be a "digital native" because I was born in 1971 so was too old for it to apply and despite the fact that every part of the definition for digital native fitted me except for my date of birth. It was great to hear you mention that some of the most "technosavvy" people are in the over 50 age group.
Just a thought about brick walls as mentioned in the comments above. The other day I read this quote from computer - science professor Dr. Randy Pausch "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." Just something to think about.

Hi Folks,
I know I am in danger of taking this analogy too far but when we talk about "digital natives" I think it is also important to remeber that some of the natives may live in relative poverty. By this I mean that we can often asume that all our pupils have access to IT hardware and the internet and so can take advantage of social networking in a virtual environment. I beleive we should always keep an wary eye open to ensure that policies and procedues are in place to make sure that inclusion happens as much in the virtual world as much as in the real world.

Hi Folks,
I know I am in danger of taking this analogy too far but when we talk about "digital natives" I think it is also important to remeber that some of the natives may live in relative poverty. By this I mean that we can often asume that all our pupils have access to IT hardware and the internet and so can take advantage of social networking in a virtual environment. I beleive we should always keep an wary eye open to ensure that policies and procedues are in place to make sure that inclusion happens as much in the virtual world as much as in the real world.

Ewan - hats off to Maggie for a great term!

David - when writing the post in the first place, my intention was not to pour salt on the wound of those that try to change but are held down by 'the system'. My heart bleeds for them, as I've been there (and, in many ways still am there!) Rather, my point was that quite often, we operate in an environment that doesn't really let us experiment, or worse still, doesn't see the need to change or adopt new technology. I suppose in many ways it's our job (the job of any evangelist) to convince those that need convincing of the worth of social media and new technologies in general. In Scotland, we are hugely fortunate that many are listening.

These incense gift box favors are great. The are just what I was looking for. Now I am debating whether to give them out as bridal shower favors or as wedding favors. It think they will be great for either.

Can't leave a comment- too busy listening to your keynote.

I overplan all the time. Spending longer preparing than teaching sometimes.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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