Sink or Skim in Digital World

The Digital Pandemic, Part Two

I wrote The Digital Pandemic in 2010, warning about drowning in the digital ocean that now covers us all. What has happened over the past six years? Some have coined the term Cyber Native to describe how our youth function on a day-to-day basis. When kids have over 1000 friends on Facebook and are exposed to almost 12 hours per day of media, not including school work on their computers or media exposure at school, I prefer the term Skimmers. Yes, they must skim just to stay afloat. They must sink or skim!

And electronic games are an additional concern. They do nothing to develop the all-important frontal lobes of the brain. Rather, the brain is being rewired to master narrow visual and fine motor skills. Meanwhile, we see an increase in concentration problems and less imagination and creativity in our classrooms.

While many of us have doubts about the push for educational technology, billions are spent each year in our public schools.  One public middle school in my hometown claims “a powered up magnet (school) sees gains in achievement and behavior.” Yes, the 88 sixth-graders enrolled in an inaugural class for innovation and digital learning did well on their achievement tests, but when I reviewed applications to this public magnet school I discovered that only 31% of applicants were admitted to the program. Colleen Wright, Tampa Bay Times, Jan. 31, 2016.

As I tried to make clear in my book, The Elephant in the Classroom, high test scores often result from “creaming” off the best students. With a carefully selected student body, we can be certain they will do well whether they use white boards, smart phones, or quill pens! We need to pay more attention to the student population when analyzing school reform claims. Thirty to forty percent of students have sufficient motivation and ability to continue to college, and career education needs to be offered to all students.

to be continued . . . .

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