Being somewhat removed for the past twenty years from people who are in their teens, my knowledge of middle and high school students and their leisure pastimes is limited. Two sections of “Living and Learning with New Media,” “Messing Around” and “Geeking Out,” have changed my thinking about this age group. It has also given me a name for what I see my third grade students doing.
On a recent field trip to the Thai Red Cross Snake Farm, three of my third graders brought their own digital cameras, and two were using their cell phones to take pictures. On the bus ride there,
another student and her friend played games on her mother’s iPhone. In their weekly journals students are always telling about visiting Millsberry website or their account with Club Penguin. A play-date with a friend always includes “messing around” on some kind of technological instrument.
During parent conferences, a dad proudly told me about the videos that his kids, two highschool sons and his third grade daughter, make and post on their “Space” for him whenever he is out of the country on business trips. My third grade students who have older siblings are ahead of everyone in the class in their ease and use of technology, including me.
"Geeking Out" was especially enlightening. My idea of the “Geeks” has always been the nerdy kids who are the misfits among their peers. From this article, I now see them as kids with a passion. How wonderful to find a passion at such a young age and have a forum in which to express yourself--a safe place to follow that passion.
I think back to Clarence’s comment about PLN’s allowing students to have an authentic audience. Students who are able to connect with peers who have a like interest not only have the opportunity to get substantive feedback, but to feel validated. Isn’t validation what it’s all about?