In preparation for our upcoming Voicethread conversation on teaching for tomorrow, I’ve been doing a bunch of thinking about today’s kids—-a group that I like to call the iGeneration.

They’re an interesting bunch, aren’t they?  Completely unintimidated by digital tools, increasingly globally aware and active, and insistent on having real opportunities to interact, they’re almost always completely bored by the traditional classrooms that we’ve all come to know and love.

And while they’re comfortable using digital tools to get connected—heck, they check their Facebook profiles several times a day, send text messages like it’s going out of style, and haven’t played a video game alone in about a decade—I’m not sure that they totally understand the power of connections.

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<Sure, they know how to network—have you watched any teenagers do their homework in the past dozen years?  They’ll get three phone calls and have two instant messaging conversations going on all while trying to write an essay for English and to figure out a few algebraic equations for AP Calc.

And I’d bet that most use their networks for learning in informal situations all the time.  Figuring out the best way to blow through Halo 3 isn’t exactly a task that you can do easily on your own, you know.  Hook up with a couple of online buddies, though, and it’s a breeze.

But I’m just not sure that they know how to leverage the power of their developing networks to learn in every situation—-particularly the kinds of formal situations that schools and work environments reward.  In fact, I’m not even sure that they see their personal networks as tools for learning at all.  It’s almost as if they’ve created barriers between their social and intellectual lives.

The hitch is that intellectual growth and learning of any kind is an inherently social act, isn’t it? 

Wouldn’t our students be better off if we systematically worked to help them to see their personal networks as learning tools?  And if no one bothers to introduce the concept of networked learning to our teens, are we confident that they’ll discover it on their own someday?

Interesting stuff, huh?

And the kind of stuff that we’ll wrestle with together from August 26-28 in Voicethread.  Mark your calendars and bring your minds, huh?  I’d love to see you there.

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