Where in the World is the United States

Tabla_periódica_sobre_datos_de_Internet_en_el_mundo_#infografia_#infographic_#internet_»_InfoGraphic-a-Day-20110828-154706.jpg

This is from an infographic that will appear next week in Infographic-A-Day (IGaD). I found it from TICs y Formación, one of the infographics blogs that I monitor through my iPad.  It’s a Periodic Table of World Internet Facts.  It’s a frequently used theme, a periodic table, for expressing information.  I like to use the Period Table of Elements as an example of how “There’s nothing new about infographics!”

To the far right of the table are a set of lists, the top ten of countries around the world concerning their use of the Internet.  Here are four of the lists:

Top 10 (Number of Users)

  1. China
  2. United States
  3. Japan
  4. India
  5. Brazil
  6. Germany
  7. United Kingdom
  8. Russia
  9. France
  10. South Korea
Top 10 (% of Population)

  1. Iceland
  2. Norway
  3. Sweden
  4. Netherlands
  5. Denmark
  6. Finland
  7. Australia
  8. New Zealand
  9. Luxemborg
  10. South Korea
Top 10 (Bandwidth Speed)

  1. Japan
  2. (South) Korea
  3. France
  4. Finland
  5. Netherlands
  6. Germany
  7. Australia
  8. Denmark
  9. Portugal
  10. Iceland
Top 10 (Fastest Growing)

  1. China
  2. Japan
  3. India
  4. South Korea
  5. Australia
  6. Taiwan
  7. Malaysia
  8. Hong Kong
  9. Singapore
  10. New Zealand

As an educator, I believe that there is much to be excited about in the world of teaching and learning. At the same time — and in the autumn of my career — I am haunted by a nation (my nation) that seems less than inclined to invest in itself — except for an elite part of itself.

 

What I Hope for My Children

About ten stitched photos from the Prairie in Utah

I’ve had one of those weeks that I try not to put myself through anymore. It was six audiences, seven airports, two airlines, two hotel chains and way too much fast food. My entire August use to be like that, but I’m through. These were invitations I simply couldn’t say no to.

Doing fewer gigs, I’m personalizing my presentations a little more, but all three of these centered around student engagement and digital natives. Of course, typing these two terms makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck, because they are overused catch phrases that have become so much a part of edu-speak that I simply can’t be confident that you take the same meaning in the reading, that I intend in the typing. So, as a personal exercise, I want to write my definitions, for each, right here.

Student Engagement: Learning that results from mental muscle, where the learner solves a problem or accomplishes a goal by planning and applying self-inventory, inquiry, exploration, experimentation, discovery, intellectual alchemy and inventiveness; gaining knowledge and skills that are personally and immediately valuable to the learner (increasing self-value); and in some elemental way surprises the teacher.

Digital Natives: The generations who have always known and have included as an element of their culture digital information and communication technologies, resulting in a uniquely intuitive but historically limiting perspective on literacy (using information to accomplish goals).

There! That was fun.

But the main thing that got me writing this morning was a comment from one of the Texas teachers I presented to earlier in the week. She said that the challenges of becoming the kind of teacher who engages today’s children in the learning they need to accomplish today seem overwhelming. But, she continued,

“As a parent, it is exactly the kind of teacher that my teenage children need right now.”

Right Now!

 

Transformative Questions

Theme photo from the presentation…

I’m in Eden Prairie Minnesota today opening up a conference whose principal question is, “How do we create a culture of learners that thrive in the 21st century?” I will be doing an adapted version of a presentation that is most often called, “Cracking the ‘Native’ Information Experience,” where I identify and illustrate a number of qualities of our children’s outside-the-classroom information experiences. Those qualities are,

  • That the experience is responsive,
  • It provokes conversation,
  • It inspires personal investment, and
  • It’s guided by safely-made mistakes.

This presentation culminates with a set of transformative questions that might guide teachers (librarians and administrators) in creating learning experiences and environments that are more relevant to our learners ‘native’ information experiences and skills.

I may have posted these before, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is perfectly ok to repeat yourself in your own blog.

Classroom Teachers:

  1. How might I alter this assignment or project so that it “Responds” to the learner? How can the experience “Talk Back?”
  2. How might I plant barriers within the assignment that force learners to “Question” their way through — to value the “questions” not just for “answers?”
  3. How can I ban silence in my classroom, provoking “Conversation” with my assignments and projects, expecting learners to exchange ideas and knowledge?
  4. How can I make their learning worth “Investing” in? How might the outcomes of their learning be of value to themselves and to others?
  5. How am I daring my students to make the “Mistakes” that feed the learning dialog?

Teacher Librarians:

  1. How can I make my library “Respond?” How can I make it “Talk Back?”
  2. How might it become a place that evokes “Questions” — not just answers?
  3. How can I ban silence, provoke “Conversation,” and expect patrons to explicitly exchange knowledge?
  4. How can I make this library a place that inspires “personal Invest”?
  5. How am I daring my students to make the “Mistakes” that feed the learning dialog — expanding and enriching the information experience?

Administrators:

  1. How does the learning here “Respond” to the learner? How does the learning “Talk Back” to the learner and to the community?
  2. Have my classrooms banned silence? Do the learning experiences “Provoke Conversation” by expecting learners to exchange knowledge?
  3. Are my classrooms places that student “Questions” as much as their answers?
  4. How do the learning environments in my school inspire learners to invest their time and skills for something larger?
  5. How are learners being dared to make the “Mistakes” that feed the learning dialog and how am I a part of that dialog?

Are they addicted to their technology?

This from a recent Mashable post,

It’s clear that today’s students rely heavily on electronic devices even when they’re not incorporated in the class room. In one survey of college students, 38% said they couldn’t even go 10 minutes without switching on some sort of electronic device. ((Kessler, Sarah. “How Students Use Technology.”Mashable. Mashable, Inc., 10 Aug 2011. Web. 11 Aug. 2011. <http://mashable.com/2011/08/10/students-technology-infographic/>.))

As a writer, I know how we try to seek out words and wording for impact readers, so it is possible that Sarah Kessler did not mean to imply some sort of Un-natural relationship between students and their devices. Yet that’s what it sounds like and I suspect it’s what some people want to hear, that “my child is addicted to his cell phone!”

Is this three individuals or a meeting that’s larger than it appears? (Flickr photo (cc) by Susan NYC

I don’t know, but it makes more sense to me that they can’t go “10 minutes without switching on some sort of electronic device,” not because they want to listen to a hum or see the glow. It’s because that device is where their friends are. Perhaps asking how long they can go without their tech is more like asking, “How long could you last in solitary confinement?” Possibly, my generation could last longer, but there’s probably less reason for alarm in that. (TINTSTWSNBV) ((This is not to say that we should not be vigilant))

As an aside, the blog entry I’ve quoted includes an infographic.  If you want to read it, I would suggest that you do so with a critical eye and especially with the intent of the publishers in mind.  My concerns were best described by Dan Meryer in Stop Linking to “Top 100 Blogs” Lists.