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Educational Media and our Student's Generation

Over the past couple of decades we have witnessed major changes in the culture of our country and the way that people interact with it on an everyday basis. Within such a short period of time the way in which humans in a large percent of the world, and definitely in a large part of America receive and process information has completely changed.

It seems silly, but for the past year or so I have referred to the current generation of students as the iPod generation. This labeling came about for a variety of reasons, least of all because none of them ever seem to be without their iPod. For them computing is ubiquitous. It pervades their transportation, their recreation, everything.

As educators we often try and win the "distraction" war where we ask students to put away and turn off their electronic devices, almost as if they were in an airplane about to take off and we were afraid it was going to interfere with our instrumentation. There are so many case studies of where teacher's are engaging their students with electronic media (podcasts, wikis, class blogs, etc.) without taking time away from their curriculum.

As computer science teachers we are also faced with this dilemma. There are so many tools out there to be used in the classroom to bring media in as a part of programming. They include but are definitely not limited to Alice, Karel the Robot, and all of the programs where teachers have created curriculum to do media manipulation as introductory programming assignments.

There is a good article that was recently published in Edutopia that I would strongly recommend for any educator, computer science or otherwise. The article entitled "Synching up with the iKid" by Josh McHugh talks about how the ways that students process information is a direct result of their environment. Form your own opinions, but share them so that we can discuss and debate whether or not our modes of instruction need to change.

Leigh Ann Sudol
Communications Chair

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