There was a capacity (and beyond) crowd to hear David Dwyer of the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT) program talk about “When the X, Y and Z Generations Come to School” at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in San Antonio, TX.
He kicked things off by having all the session attendees give each other a brief back massage. Then it was down to business. Dwyer said that the future of education would keep changing and evolving, a fact that is both scary and hopeful.
Dwyer, sprinkling humor throughout his keynote, talked about different generations: the Boomers (born 1943-1960), Generation X (1961-1981), the Y Generation (1982-2000) and Tweens (those aged 10-12). Dwyer pointed out some differences (and conflicts) between these various groups and noted that children today are growing up faster than ever before. And, not surprisingly the X, Y and Tweeners are more computer literate and techno-savvy than any previous generation.
“They encounter more information and consider more points of view than any generation ever on our planet,” Dwyer said.
Unfortunately, there are serious problems in our education system, along racial and geographic lines. For instance, Dwyer said that the dropout rate in large urban cities is 50 percent. And the drop out rate of 16-24 year-olds by race and ethnicity may be early warning signs of “a failing system,” he said.
In a survey of 12th graders from 1983-2000, said there’s been a decline in the feeling that school work is meaningful, that courses are interesting, and that school will be important in later life. If we don’t do a better job of making education relevant to students, “we’re in big trouble,” Dwyer said.
Current students want their education to involve more technology and more collaboration, he said. One out of every three jobs in the US in the future will be in the tech industry and will pay more than other jobs, Dwyer said.
But all the negative trends and worry over education “doesn’t have to be,” he added. Programs and teachers succeed every day. And the new
Apple Learning Exchange can help promote such success stories by serving as a repository of media-rich exhibits about teaching.
The Apple Learning Interchange, or ALI, is a new online resource for teaching, learning, research and collaboration, that leverages the storytelling power of video to showcase successful education practices. These best practices include digital videos of presentations, online lesson plans, assessment tools, research resources and more.
“We’re hoping that a million teachers a week will take a look at this,” Dwyer said. “We have 33 examples of successful programs up now, and we hope that this number grows and grows.”
Dwyer showed some examples of the programs already up at the ALI Web site. He added that the site had “lots” of contributors and that number would grow due to an affiliate program that Apple is developing.
“We’ve got to get the word out and get teachers to start doing things differently in the classroom,” Dwyer said. “The way we define our schools will ultimately define us.”
The ACOT program was established in the U.S. in 1985 to explore and document the effects on teaching and learning when personal computers are used as everyday tools in the classroom. The ACOT program has become a multinational program with three ACOT schools in the U.S., two schools in Australia and three schools in Europe. ACOT research has shown the use of computer technology in the classroom results in improved student academic performance, enhanced problem solving ability, and better attendance records.