Spotting the Elusive 21st Century Student. . .

One of my former students who has moved on to 8th grade sent me the following email a few days ago:

Mr. Ferriter,

In science, we have been assigned a project to raise awareness or to help with the problem of the environment.  I thought that The Blurb would be the perfect tool to use to spread awareness of the environmental problem, and recent steps that have been taken by President Obama to help. 

I was thinking that I, and possibly a small group, could put up posts about 1-3 times a week, depending on the size of the group, to spread awareness of this issue.  This project runs till about the end of May, so there would be a high production of posts for that time period. 

I just wanted to run this by you to make sure you were fine with my using The Blurb for the science project.

Landini

After I wrote back letting him know that he had permission to use The Blurb—a classroom blog that he was very active in creating two years ago—for his project, Landini wrote me again:

Mr. Ferriter
 
Thanks a ton, I'll definitely try experimenting with Voicethread and Video.  I also think that changing the color scheme would really tie it all together and get more people into the spirit of Earth Day. 
 
I'll try to get started as soon as I can on some posts, so you can tell all of your colleagues.  That will really help the impact, and the number of hits (that's what I'll be recording so that my teacher can see how widespread the impact will be).
 
Thanks Again
Landini
Pretty amazing, huh?   Here's a 14-year old kid who has selected a blog to raise awareness about an issue that is important to him. 
 
I'll bet there aren't more than five students in our school who would have gone there first.  Most are likely to churn out yet another dreaded PowerPoint or post a few flyers in the hallway.  The real go-getters might just have a bake sale at lunch time to raise money to plant a few trees.
 
Better yet, he's recognized that embedding multimedia presentations like Voicethreads and movies will make his work more engaging and meaningful to his readers.  In a visual world, text based content alone doesn't always do the trick—-especially when your audience is tweens and teens. 
 
Finally, he knows that he can track the impact of his work through the statistics provided by our blogging software AND–having asked me to advertise his efforts in my professional circles—he realizes that influence is spread through networks of people who can connect directly better than at any other point in history. 
 
So have I spotted the rarest of breeds:  The elusive 21st Century Student?
 
And if not, what's missing?
 
(Either way, I'm going to have fun watching this kid work—-and you can too!  Just drop by The Blurb—which has officially gone green for the next few weeks!)
 
 
 

3 comments

  1. Gilbet Halcrow

    I think it is important to see the wood and the trees.
    There is no doubt that technology is facilitating more autonomous learning and the publishing/collaborating mode of social networks provides huge motivation for our students. The real questions to me is:
    Aren’t (digital literacy aside) the traits of the 21st learner the traits of all good learners?
    Are not these attributes more to do with an individuals desire to understand, communicate and to collectively solve problems? Hasn’t the problem really been that the ‘production line model’ of education did not serve those strong and natural desires in young people?
    Technology is like the archaeologist’s tools (sometimes sable brush, sometime dynamite) removing the dirt to rediscover an ancient masterpiece.
    Any discussion about the 21st Learner should focused on what the masterpiece might look like; rather than the tools used to clean the centuries away.

  2. John Ferriter

    hi Bill… it’s sort of like bird watching isn’t it? Each spring in Buffalo we watch for the Cardinal family to come here to nest, eat and bathe. We love it. You could share more of these wonderful encounters you have with students you’ve inspired. It makes a good positive feeling that most teachers cherish but rarely write about.
    peace….