Daily Archives: November 21, 2005

More on digital minds

This is an excellent article and ties in with so much of the discussions we have been having lately.

The title is “Educating the Digital Mind: Challenges and Solutions”. 

The authors are Marshall G. Jones, Stephen W. Harmon, and Mary O’Grady-Jones.

The article is published in the  “Teacher Education Journal of

South Carolina.”  I’m proud to say that Stephen Harmon is my boss here

at Georgia State University. He is the Director of Instructional Technology

as well as the Director of the Instructional Technology Center. I really

got excited about this paper because it is so relevant to many of the

topics we have been discussing lately. 

A couple of selections from the article:

(permission has been granted to post)

First, the abstract:


paper explores the issues and challenges associated with the transformative

nature of digital media and devices on teaching and learning. It proposes

that current students may think and process information differently

than their teachers and suggests that we adopt the term digital mind

as a way to explain this phenomenon. It explores the relationship of

societal changes to the learning styles of current students and suggests

possible ways to alter classroom activities to accommodate not just

the inclusion of devices, but the learning styles associated with digital


Then these great suggestions

for effective instruction as relates to digital minds:


(1997) suggests that for effective instruction of people who think differently

than we do we must be able to step outside of our personal experiences

and into the world of the learner. We must be able to engage the learner

to make a commitment to learn. To do this with digital minds we do not

necessarily have to involve devices (though it helps). What we do have

to do is to accept some of their life experiences. The following list

draws on ideas from Brown (1997) and Driscoll (2002) as we offer the

following suggestions:

  1. Focus on

    Outcomes Rather Than Techniques 

    Provide students with opportunities to put information to work. Allow

    them to do something and not just to know something. Reality based learning,

    learning in context, situated cognition, and problem√based learning

    are strategies that should resonate with digital minds.

  2. Provide

    Options for Learning 

    Universal Designs for Learning (O≠Neill, 2001) suggests that students

    will excel with options in learning. Multiple options to express learning,

    multiple representations of content, and multiple ways to engage learners

    will help digital minds in the classroom.

  3. Respect

    Parallel Thinking and Multitasking 

    People who grew up with the WWW, mobile phones, MTV and video games

    are used to dealing with many streams of information coming in at one

    time. And while we, as teachers and digital immigrants, may see it as

    disruptive, they really can do more than one thing at a time in class.

  4. Highlight

    Key Points 

    New learners are surfers and scanners. While we had limited sources

    for writing papers they essentially have every library in the world

    available to them. They make decisions quickly based on side heads and

    highlighting. We must provide them with cues they recognize and

    help them to slow down and process when needed.

  5. Involve

    Learners in Setting Learning Goals 

    Provide them a role in establishing learning goals, building the learning

    community, setting up the rules for the class and in writing the rubrics

    that will be used to judge their performance.

  6. Provide

    Active Learning Environments 

    Allow learners to use what ever tools they may need in an assignment.

    Allow them to play to their strengths, be it media production or artistic

    expression in assignments and activities in appropriate ways.

  7. Allow Learning

    to be Social 

    We have long recognized the importance of working in groups. It

    builds social skills and provides students with the ability to work

    in the type of environment they will be working in as adults. Working

    in groups means that people will need to talk, discuss and interact,

    activities that are typically discouraged in most classrooms.

  8. Provide

    Opportunities for Reflection 

    Lest we think we must only allow people to do things that are fast moving

    and lack depth of processing, we must provide digital minds not only

    with the time to reflect, but the requirement to reflect. A digital

    mind does not mean a better mind necessarily. We should provide opportunities

    for both experiential and reflective cognition.

Good points to keep in mind!  All of them have really got me thinking. I particularly

like #8 as it focuses on providing opportunities for reflection.Read the entire article. It is well worth it.  I thank

the authors for letting me share their good work!

Call to action!

Al Delgado from Educational Weblogs has a post we all need to read. It’s an action call and we need to heed the call. Al reports about ISTE called educators and the community to action regarding the cuts in funds for educational technology. Here is the link to EdTech Action Network.

Al provides this info:

Congress is poised to vote on a final

  appropriations bill that would cut funding for the Enhancing Education Through

  Technology (EETT) program by 45%, and fund the EETT program at $275 million

  for FY 06 (EETT was funded at $496 million in FY 05). Programs under NCLB are

  slated to be cut by $780 million. Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representative and ask them to oppose H.R. 3010, the education appropriations bill,

  because it slashes funding for education technology.

So the call to action is to

tell Congress to oppose the Education Appropriations Bill! Al also

tells us how ISTE has made it easy for us to contact our members of


The Ed Tech Action Network (ETAN, http://www.edtechactionnetwork<wbr>.org/)

  has posted an alert and provides a simple online connection to Members of Congress.

There are further details on

Al’s post and at the EdTech Action Network. I’m off to take action! I

hope you will consider doing the same. Thanks Al, for the heads-up!


Oops! I was a little late on this one – just read this at ISTE:

(18 Nov 2005) Thank you to members and supporters who sent more than 7,000 emails to Congress this past week opposing major cuts to education technology.

Your voices were heard and your efforts rewarded! On Thursday, the U.S.

House rejected the Education Appropriations bill, which would have

slashed funding by 45% for the Enhancing Education Through Technology

(EETT) program.

That’s what happens when you get behind on your Bloglines readings!  Lesson learned!