Saturday, October 27, 2012

Shaping our Digital World

On Wednesday, October 3rd, we attended a professional development conference "Shaping Our Digital World: You Have the Power" hosted by Common Sense Media and The Good Play Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education, with the Brookline Parent Education Network.  The evening's discussion was centered around tackling the opportunities and challenges of media and technology.  One panel included Howard Gardner (Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Co-Director, The Good Play Project, Harvard project Zero), Karen Campbell (a member of the Brookline Parent Education Network), and Elon Fischer (a Brookline High School teacher and parent), while the second panel was comprised of five Brookline High School juniors and seniors.

Panelists discussed the pros and cons of technology in education, and an important take-away for parents was to stay connected with their teens and keep the dialog open.  Gardner pointed out that one of the benefits of technology is the ability to individualize education, yet he acknowledged that one of the pitfalls is the assumption that everything can and should be "technologized."  A theme that emerged through the panels was the desire for a balance between face-to-face and online communication.  Gardner referenced a study in which students rated face-to-face interaction as their preferred form of communication, reserved for close friends.  Texting, which they claimed to use for organizing their lives, came next, with FaceBook surprisingly lower in the ranks.

Towards the end of the evening, when addressing the topic of social change, Gardner also commented, "You'd be nuts not to use social media, but you'd be nuts to think digital media itself can make the change."

-Jen Lavenberg and Megan Haddadi

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