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Don Tapscott

Obama encourages students to persevere


President Barack Obama stuck to the script almost word-for-word in his address to schoolchildren across the nation earlier today.  Critics of the speech complained last week that Obama would try to indoctrinate schoolchildren with his “socialist ideology.”  Some said they would keep their children home today.

The White House posted the speech text online Monday so that concerned parents could read the text themselves and decide whether the content was suitable for their children. Some parents still insisted that Obama could stray from the text and deliver extemporaneous subversive ideas.

Roger Cooper, an insurance agent who was out shopping with his wife and three school-aged children, told the Wall Street Journal said he hadn’t read Mr. Obama’s speech but had read about it on the Internet. “It’s propaganda,” Mr. Cooper said as he emerged from an Apple Store in Dallas’s Knox-Henderson neighborhood. “I don’t trust the man. He’s been nothing…

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12 Comments | Tags: Family, Government, School/College

Don Tapscott

Helicopter parents and Web 2.0 – a potent combination


In Grown Up Digital I discussed the phenomenon of “helicopter parents” — parents who are involved closely with all aspects of their grownup children’s lives. TheOnion.com, one of the world’s funniest web sites, has a great takeoff on a digitally savvy mom showing how she uses Facebook and Twitter to keep a close eye on her son at university. Watch the video here.

Wikipedia now tells us there are specialized kinds of helicopter parents:

Helicopter parent is a colloquial, early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. These parents rush to prevent any harm or failure from befalling them and will not let them learn from their own mistakes, sometimes even contrary to the children’s wishes. They are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach,…

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8 Comments | Tags: World

Don Tapscott

TakingItGlobal co-founder shares Net Gen insights


My good friend and mentee Michael Furdyk has just posted an excellent brief video on the Globe and Mail website discussing how companies can reach out to the Net Generation.

I’ve worked with Michael for more than a dozen years. Our first project was the design and construction of my GrowingUpDigital.com website. Michael was the project manager, and he was 13 at the time. Michael would quickly become a star in his own right. When he was in Grade 9, he and a couple of friends launched an on-line magazine about computers called MyDesktop.com. In May 1999, when Furdyk was in Grade 11, they sold it for an undisclosed 7 or 8 figure sum.

In October of 1999, during a reunion of the Growing Up Digital contributors, Michael and colleague Jennifer Corriero envisioned an online space where kids to work together with other kids around the world to do something good….

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5 Comments | Tags: Work

Don Tapscott

Online learning boosts student performance


The U.S. Department of Education has just released a report comparing traditional face-to-face classroom instruction to learning supplemented or completely replaced by online learning.  The conclusion:  “Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.”

The most effective teaching method blended face-to-face learning with online learning.  The study notes that this blended learning often includes additional learning time because students can proceed at their own pace and lets them repeat material they find difficult.

The 93-page report, entitled an Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in  Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, was conducted by SRI International. Researchers looked at more than a thousand studies conducted between 1996 to 2008. Analysts then screened these studies to find those that (a) contrasted an online to a face-to-face condition, (b) measured student learning outcomes, (c) used…

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20 Comments | Tags: School/College

Don Tapscott

Being prepared on the World Wide Web


The Boy Scouts have released a new version of their famous 475-page Boy Scout Handbook that still includes tips on how to build a campfire but adds new material on how to surf safely when out in the World Wide Web.   For the first time the handbook is now also available online, and an iPhone application for the handbook is coming soon.

“We are talking to boys where boys want to be talked to, which is on the Web,” Tico Perez, the national commissioner of the Scouts who oversaw production of the handbook, said in an interview with Associated Press.

As a former scout, I recall well striving to fulfill our famous motto of “be prepared.” Only today that will include keeping an eye out for the closest Wi-Fi hotspot.

The online version includes links to videos that show Scouts exactly how…

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8 Comments | Tags: World

Don Tapscott

In a Digital Future, Textbooks are History


Information technology in the private sector didn’t make a substantive difference until users realized IT’s real purpose was to do more than simply digitize existing processes.  IT enabled new processes and new business models. 

I was reminded of this when reading an interesting story in the New York Times entitled “In a Digital Future, Textbooks are History.”

A number of states are looking at e-books to help cut the cost of education, with California being the most well-known example.  The idea: give every student a laptop or Kindle-style reader and distribute the reading material digitally at a discount.  Conventional textbooks would be cheaper since the costs of paper and printing would be eliminated.  And the savings could be even greater if teachers collaborated to produce an open-source compendium of information they had created themselves,

But that is not the real prize of the exercise.  As the Times noted, “Textbooks have not…

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11 Comments | Tags: School/College

Don Tapscott

Obama’s Organizing for America troops prepare for battle


As I’ve written many times before, President Barack Obama is making deft use of the web and the youth-powered social movement that got him elected to help advance his agenda.  I also said his biggest battle would be healthcare. With members of Congress back in their constituencies during August, the battleground for health care reform shifts from the backrooms in Washington to communities across America.  Earlier this week Obama sent an email to the membership of Organizing for America, the organization that grew out of the 13 million volunteers who had signed up with Obama’s campaign team during last year’s election.

“Throughout August, members of Congress are back home, where the hands they shake and the voices they hear will not belong to lobbyists, but to people like you,” Obama wrote.

“Home is where we’re strongest. We didn’t win last year’s election together at a committee hearing in D.C. We won it…

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13 Comments | Tags: Government

Don Tapscott

Creating an environment for student excellence


In a speech last week to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, President Barack Obama cited a Manhattan high school, Bard High School Early College, as one example of the type of innovation in education that should be encouraged across the country.

The Bard school was jointly created in June 2001 by the New York City Board of Education and Bard College. It is founded on the belief that many young people are ready and eager to do serious college work at age 16. It enables highly motivated students to move in four years from ninth grade through the first two years of college, earning the associate of arts (A.A.) degree as well as a high school diploma.

It is a public education institution, and no tuition is charged. The student body is diverse ethnically and economically.  There are about 500 students and the average…

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4 Comments | Tags: Government, School/College

Don Tapscott

Jon Stewart’s trustworthiness no surprise


In the wake of Walter Cronkite’s death, time.com asked readers to vote for today’s most trusted newscaster.  The decisive winner, with 44 percent of the vote, was Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s pull-no-punches “The Daily Show.” This was well ahead of the 29 per cent for NBC anchor Brian Williams, 19 per cent for ABC’s Charles Gibson and 7 per cent for CBS’s Katie Couric. (See map for state-by-state results.)

In my mind, the results are completely predictable.  Personally I trust Jon Stewart more than anyone else to probe issues of actual importance.  Most network news is sensationalist, and typically irrelevant blather, one step up from man bites dog.  There are real problems in the world today. Young people know this.  Increasingly they don’t accept the existing paradigms of what constitutes public discourse.

Jon Stewart’s popularity does not mean that…

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3 Comments | Tags: World

Don Tapscott

Best Buy crowdsources a job description


I like the electronics retailing juggernaut Best Buy, and have had a number of discussions with the company’s senior management on how it can tap the full potential of the Net Generation as employees and as customers.

Recently the company advertised for a Sr. Manager of Emerging Media Marketing. This person would be in charge of social media marketing.  And according to Best Buy, the successful candidate would have at least one year of active blogging experience, a graduate degree, and more than 250 followers on Twitter.

The job qualifications caused a bit of a stir in the blogosphere. Some questioned the need for a graduate degree (in what?), or the idea that people with less than 250 Twitter followers need not apply.

The reason I think Best Buy is so great is illustrated by what happened next. Best Buy’s CMO Barry Judge…

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9 Comments | Tags: Brand, Work

Don Tapscott

Obama should look to Portugal on how to fix schools


President Obama already knows that the nation’s schools are failing a large number of young Americans. One-third of all students drop out before finishing high school. It’s a terrible record, and it’s even worse in inner city public schools, where only half of blacks and Hispanics graduate from school. This is not a legacy that would make anyone proud: More young Americans on a proportionate basis drop out of school today than at any other time in our history.

This problem is undoubtedly complicated, but one of the reasons why many American youth are unmotivated and not learning well is that they’re bored in school. They’re grown up in a fast paced, challenging digital world, with the Internet, mobile devices, video games and other gadgets. They watch less television than their parents did and TV is typically a background activity. They are a generation doesn’t like to be broadcast to and…

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12 Comments | Tags: School/College

Don Tapscott

Writing in the age of composition


Today’s university students are doing more writing in more varied forms outside of their classes than ever before.  They are texting, writing on Facebook walls, sending e-mails, posting or responding to blogs, and generally using the keyboard as the principal means of communicating online.  While it is easy to see they are the most prolific student writers ever, does this mean they are better writers?

This hotly debated question is explored by Josh Keller in the Chronicle of Higher Education in an article entitled “Studies Explore Whether the Internet Makes Students Better Writers.” “Some scholars say that this new writing is more engaged and more connected to an audience, and that colleges should encourage students to bring lessons from that writing into the classroom.  Others argue that tweets and blog posts enforce bad writing habits and have little relevance to the kind of sustained, focused argument that academic work demands,”…

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5 Comments | Tags: School/College

Don Tapscott

Iran’s youth are calling to us


Events in Iran continue to unfold at a breakneck pace.  There are calls for a nation-wide strike tomorrow. I believe this is another example of the…

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2 Comments | Tags: Government, World

Don Tapscott

Will universities stay relevant?


Last week I wrote a substantial essay for the Edge arguing that the universities are entering a period of crisis.

I argued that is a widening gap between the model of learning offered by many big universities and the natural way that young people who have grown up digital best learn. The reaction on Twitter, mainly from students has been enormously positive. So far two academics have written critiques of my views at the Edge.

However because the Edge does not enable readers to comment, I’d like to know what you think. Please read a summary below and then check out the Edge article and let the world know what you think here on GrownUpDigital.com.

The old-style lecture, with the professor standing at the podium in front of a large group of students, is still common. It’s part of a model that is teacher-focused, one-way, one-size-fits-all and the student is isolated in…

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20 Comments | Tags: School/College

Don Tapscott

New game-based high-school history course


For a couple of decades I’ve been advocating a new model of pedagogy that involves technology.  For example, I just published a piece in the Edge on the Demise of the University.
The purpose of introducing technology into schools isn’t to simply digitize existing processes and leave the basic broadcast teaching model unchanged.  Instead, technology opens the door to new techniques that focus on the student and allow students to proceed at their own pace.
In this spirit, imagine students studying American history with the same concentration and enthusiasm they display when playing their favourite video games.  After all, 97 percent of high school students are avid gamers.

That’s the goal of Conspiracy Code, an online game based course released this week by Florida Virtual School (FLVS), and 360Ed, Inc. an education game development company.  Students play fictional…

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35 Comments | Tags: School/College

   
 
 
   

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