Virtual School Society of British Columbia

Live blogged, so please excuse typos and awkward wordkings.

Opening Keynote VSS Conference 2008I’m sitting, at this moment, at the VSS conference in Vancouver, with the whole day to learn and converse. I’m a consumer today, Ian Jukes hits the stage in just a minute, but it was serendipitous to see Kevin McCluskey as I walked in. Kevin is with the New Brunswick DOE, and I’ve worked with him before in Fredericton — he’s traveled just about as far to be here as I have.

At breakfast, I sat with two educators who are DL (distributed learning) educators. They live about 300 Kilometers from Vancouver, and many of their students simply live too far away from any town to regularly attend class. So they have students using online curriculum, resources, and guidance — K-12.

Ian Jukes on StageWatching a video now from the association, but no audio. Perfect. These folks understand 😉

Ian Jukes is a master of visuals. He said it! These kids are “Digital Natives.” They speak digital as their first language. Again, as I’ve said so many times before, what worries me about the native/immigrants distinction is that some teachers may find this to be an excuse not to adopt the new information landscape. “I can’t learn this. I’m an immigrant.”

Jukes is make the point very well, though — leading into brain stuff. Our kids brains are different because of their information experience.

The very first thing to understand is that when we come into the world, only 50% of our brain wiring is done, that 50% is developed as a result of our experiences. I read something about this the other day, about plasticity, I think was the word. Over the last four years, we’ve found that almost everything that we thought we knew about the brain was wrong. We know that we can not change our memory capacities (this is good news). Ah! Neuro Plasticity. That’s the word. Wikipedia calls it Synaptic Plasticity.

Daniel Pink now, right versus the left. I’m seeing my keynote slides crumbling away 😉

So how do you reprogram your brain, “It takes several hours a day, seven days a week.” It’s what’s happening to kids. It’s “digital bombardment,” and it’s changing their brains.

Ian gives a minute of rest every eight minutes or so to share with each other what we’ve heard. This is very brain oriented activity. Some people are struggling with some of this stuff. Is this the first time that our brains have changed. I don’t think so. The difference is that now we know it.

Now he’s showing different MRIs of kids pathways compared to adult pathways, based on the same activity. Kids brains are wired differently. “Game play is reshaping our children’s brains.”

Jukes is sharing some very interesting information about reading, that we (oldsters) typical read in a “Z” pattern. Our youngsters read in an “F” pattern. You can read about this from info design guru, Jakob Nielson, F-Shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content.

Jukes is closing down now. The key question is, “How does this information affect how and what we teach?

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.