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Story Ideas 9.20.10

This week a bugaboo that has been sitting in my brain for some time. Are schools REALLY keeping up with technology and learning? As youth become more and more techno-savy, as their learning styles change, are their schools adapting and making use of technology that will reach out and connect…or just making gestures?

Today’s primary and secondary students absorb information differently than old geeks like me. My generation (and a few that followed) learned by the book…seat time. Yeah, we had multimedia…filmstrips, movies. I even remember the first time i saw a TV in the classroom – on the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Not a lot of fanfare, but remarkable at the time. Principal and upper grades teacher Malen Stroh hauled a small TV out of somewhere, set it up, and introduced us to live news – a watershed moment in history and our lives.

But what is happening today? Teachers are encouraged to use technology, but at the same time most districts bind their hands and feet with rules and regulations meant to “protect” everyone. Too many schools love to point out the computers in the classrooms as the “be-all” solution. So while I was teaching video production, I couldn’t have open access to youtube or news videos to show my students. Cell phones and personal electronic devices were forbidden in the classroom (even as certain teachers ignored the rule in favor of creative uses such as recording music to rehearse the choir, bluetoothing music from cell phones to my personal laptop so they could move by thumb drive to their editing station).

Story idea: try this. Survey the students in one school to see what personal electronic devices they use in their everyday lives. Then as how these devices dovetail into their academic lives and how. If at all. Good luck.

Oh – and here’s number two. Take a drive with a fellow employee at rush hour. One of you concentrate on keeping out of trouble…driving. The other have a still or video camera and tape the number of folks who are multitasking as they commute. You can focus on carpoolers, but the really interesting ones are those driving alone. I’ve seen everything from drinking coffee to cell phoning to putting on mascara (with both hands yet at 70mph in the fast lane) to texting with both hands while merging at 55mph.

Story idea: this is a visual story only. You don’t need words when a picture is worth a cool thousand. See how many variations of “look ma, no hands” you can get in one commute session.

Now be careful out there…

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