Living the digital Life… It’s not a Generational Thing

Everyone has a storyRecently my twelve year old daughter asked my husband and I the following question: “I feel so upset when elderly people tell me I don’t have it as hard as they did, was life more difficult then than it is now? I think it’s different and we have challenges that they didn’t have, but it’s not any harder or easier… right?” Good question.

This went on into a discussion about research used to be making a trip to the library, decoding the Dewey decimal system to find the right book and spending hours looking through microfiche film versus now everything is just a Google search away. True that this may be, my daughter quickly pointed out that today learners have to know how to tell the difference between reliable sources and unreliable sources. #Win for the digital citizenship that has been consistently taught by her teachers and library media specialists.

This conversation got me thinking and changing my filter for how I see life being lived via the use of digital devices. I know how I use my digital tools… but how is my daughter’s generation using it?

Often it is assumed that these kids, who never knew a world without a personal computer, lap top or cell phone, automatically have technology skills. It is also assumed that those of us that who received all or the majority of our education before computers or ease of access to a personal computer lack the technology skills to survive fluently in today’s world. I know I don’t agree with either of these assumptions.

The digital connected world of today has created a leveling of the accessibility to information. Wifi, smart phones and more digital content than there are stars in the universe have made this possible. The question is… How are we leveraging this knowledge? What do we do with this knowledge?

I have been contemplating this for some time now. It is going to take a community of learners young and not so young, willing to listen to one another, willing to take risks, willing to communicate in different and new ways, willing to learn from one another and willing to collaborate.

We all can sit in our igloo of isolation and claim that one group of individuals or another has it harder than another, but that isn’t a benefit to anyone. A community of learners is ageless, fearless, pride-less, knowledge-seeking, group-minded, passion-focused and connected.

Every day, many times a day I learn from other educators and students. Honestly, as an instructional coach I am not the keeper of knowledge, but merely a one of many vehicles to pass on information, ask questions, brainstorm ideas and facilitate transformational learning. Almost anything we want to know we can Google, YouTube or utilize Social Media to access that information. However, it is when we connect with others beyond surface information to create, solve and collaborate that all our lives are enriched. Both the pre-digital device learner and post-digital device learner need that and best thrive when they leverage their digital resources via this approach.

I know this not just because the job that I do, but as a parent of two savvy digital kids. Some would say we are too connected to our technology. I disagree. I know my children, their passions, their fears and their weaknesses… and they know mine. Together we learn from one another and grow. This happens because of how we leverage our learning both digital and non-digital. Just ask my son who watched a YouTube on the “Not-so-Secret” In-N-Out Burger Menu to know what a “Flying Dutchman” was and ordered it on our last visit, or my daughter who sent me a Pin from Pinterest for a “Snickers” Frappucino when I offered to pick up a Starbucks drink on my way home from a meeting. Beyond food I see my students and my own children utilize technology with everything. Want to learn a new song on the piano? Watch a YouTube tutorial. Want to improve your Minecraft skills? Read three or four of the top Minecraft blogs. Stuck on a problem in Math? Check out the tutorials on Kahn Academy. The list goes on and on. The trick for learners of all ages is not finding content, but creating original creative content of their own. So as we move forward in this digital age, it isn’t what we each do alone, but how we move forward collaborating, learning and creating together.

How are you connecting and creating a community of learners young and not so young? How are you and those around you leveraging your digital resources? What has access to digital resources done to create greater access to knowledge in your learning community?