Saturday, January 30, 2010

PBS Frontline presents Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier

Below is the trailer to an important film. "The film is the product of a unique collaboration with visitors to the Digital Nation Web site, who for the past year have been able to react to the work in progress and post their own stories online." The film is available online and will also be aired Feb 2nd. From the press release:
In Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier, airing Tuesday, Feb. 2, from 9 to 10:30 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), FRONTLINE presents an in-depth exploration of what it means to be human in a 21st-century digital world. Continuing a line of investigation she began with the 2008 FRONTLINE report Growing Up Online, award-winning producer Rachel Dretzin embarks on a journey to understand the implications of living in a world consumed by technology and the impact that this constant connectivity may have on future generations.

The full press release is worth reading. I know there are challenges; technology can consume us and we must find balance. The film addresses the topic of schools and institutions of higher education using technology for learning. Parents and educators are challenged to keep children safe and to find ways to utilize technologies that are truly beneficial. Many believe those challenges must be addressed because there is so much potential for learning about ourselves and our world.

It's obvious to educators that technology is transforming us and the way we learn. There is little doubt that technology can and should be used to further learning in schools and in institutions of higher education (how, is less known). This post by a UK educator is an example of how easily children adopt and benefit from new technologies "What happens when you give a class of 8 year old children an iPod touch each?" And this post by Abby, a 4th grader, who recently posted on pandas, which her father, an educator himself, tweeted about to share. They were pleasantly surprised as comments from around the world were submitted on her blog.

Can you imagine children like Abby and the 8-year-olds in the UK post video and others like them in high-school or college? Will sitting and listening to lectures, writing papers and taking tests meet their expectation for learning? They are already creators of content, they are participators in a globally connected world. Can our education system build on that? Would society benefit if it did?

As an academic librarian I believe it's important that institutions of higher education understand that most college/university students of the near future will have grown up immersed in technology. And though there are challenges, the expectation for learning with these tools should be understood and technologies utilized when and where appropriate. I'm hopeful this program will help us understand the pros and cons of this digital revolution so we can better prepare. Again, one can view the program online here.

Update 3/2010: I'm including a link to a blog post that many feel is a fair criticism of the Digital Nation program speaking primarily to the segment on Second Life.

Lastly, a twitter buddy, @raymondpirouz, wrote a short blog post and alerted me to a response video by educators who felt that "Digital Nation" left out much of the incredible work related to education in Second Life. I agree (fairly typical of SL media reports) and am embedding the short response video below.

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