Teaching The Thumb Generation May Mean Throwing Out The Chalk

The adoption of technologies in the educational arena has perennially lagged behind both the business and consumer markets.  There is a reverence for old knowledge in academia and a respect for tradition; literary classics are held up as ideals and the philosophers of ancient Greece still impact our sense of humanity and our role in the world.  It is natural that a system that values established and verified knowledge would be reluctant to embrace new tools and technologies, particularly those that challenge the way that knowledge itself is defined, created, and used.

In contrast, to remain competitive the business world has embraced technological advances in knowledge management, networking, and IT.  Ever since the introduction of VCN ExecuVision in 1983, slide presentation tools have been standard issue; we at Basex have had interactive whiteboards since the mid 1990s, while the classroom standard is still a basic black- or whiteboard and an overhead projector.

In recent years there have been significant improvements in offerings geared specifically for this educational market.  As students live an increasingly interactive digital life through social networking Web sites, mobile phones, IM, and chat, it isn’t only necessary to use these channels for educational purposes, but they present tremendous opportunities for interactive and collaborative learning.

Providing these technologies to students may soon be moot.  Students now come equipped with their own screens.  Be it an iPod, a smartphone, or a laptop, chances are that a student has some sort of LCD device on his person upon entering a classroom.  Students and businesses have something in common, they both know that embracing new technologies is in their interests, it now falls to the educational community to follow suit.

In the coming weeks we will be looking into the challenges and opportunities presented by these issues.  In the meantime, tell us what you think by e-mailing your thoughts and comments to thumbgen@basex.com.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

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