In one of the talks I do on a semi-regular basis I share thoughts on my audiences — one is way down the path and the other is the one that stands before me on my campus. While the students I work to inspire and support right now are really important, it is the ones down the path a bit that I love to think about. I have a built in barometer living in my house with my own two digital kids. My daughter is eight and my son is 3 and they are both heavily engaged in the use of digital devices.
More and more I am watching both of them attacking digital devices in ways that just a year or so ago they didn’t. They’ve mastered the Nintendo Wii, their DSi, the iPod Touch, and in a lot of ways the Mac. My little boy can browse (and we’ve learned, also place things in a sopping cart) the web with relative ease. But what has become amazing is how my daughter is using the Mac to create digital artifacts — the creation of blog posts, videos using PhotoBooth, and podcasts using GarageBand seem close to second nature to her. It gives me a great view into what our students will demand of us as they arrive on campus.
With that said I continue to be torn about my need to provide the platforms, but I still think it is important and I do not think the platforms we provide are simple commodities given the importance of privacy, identity, and other emerging concerns.
I showed Brad Kozlek my daughter’s travel journal she keeps for school yesterday and we got to talking about how cool it is that we are building the future infrastructure to support children like her. She keeps her travel journal as a WordPress blog and sends the URL to her teachers, classmates, and family. I love everything about it — especially that she can do it herself. This time we even looked at how to embed pictures from Flickr in her posts! What is interesting is that this space grows over time and allows us to look back at things in ways one can’t when living in a more analog Universe. We looked back at our trip to Washington DC as we were finishing the post from the Outer Banks with real amazement of all we did — we sort of relived the trip and that was really cool.
So when people ask me why I care so much about providing platforms for digital expression one of the first stories I tell them is the one about my own children and how I want education to be able to support them in all sorts of ways. I want them to be able to do what they can do at home inside the walls of the school … I need them to feel like the things they make are an important part of who they are today and who they will become. I need them to feel the power related to thinking about their thinking and I really want them to actively reflect on what that means to them. As I sat looking at her travel blog I actually got goose bumps thinking about how important our work really is — and how important it is to build opportunities for how it should be in the future.