Effects of Gadgets

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Today’s children are unlikely to be found playing with jacks, Colorforms or troll dolls, and they aren’t using their grandparents’ abaci, chalk, blackboards or mimeographs to learn in the classroom either.

Frenship Independent School District prides itself on being ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and learning. The district’s motto is “Leadership Through Scholastics, Character, and Technology.”

“We are a technology-crazy school,” said Linsae Snider, FISD’s director of professional development and public relations.

Joe Barnett, the director of technology and information services for FISD, said the difference between generations of learning can be summed up with the concept of either being a digital native or a digital immigrant.

Parents and grandparents tend to be digital immigrants, he said. Even though many grandparents have learned to use computers, they generally use them to write e-mails and perform practical functions.

Today’s students, though, are digital natives. They’ve grown up in front of computers and are learning to type at an age far earlier than their parents and grandparents may have started on electric typewriters in high school. They use e-mail primarily to communicate with older people such as grandparents, but use Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace or cell phone text messaging to stay in touch with their own peers, Barnett said.

FISD has had to learn new ways to engage such students, Barnett said.

“Technology’s really not separate anymore. It’s kind of expected” that students will learn to use the technology they may someday be using in a career, he said.

Students have grown up expecting to have access to instant knowledge, Barnett said. After he answered a question from his own son in a recent car trip, the boy expressed some doubt about the answer and said he would Google it later.

Reading from a book or doing worksheets would not be as effective with this generation, he said.

“The kids are...
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