I’m not sure if today’s high school students are the digital natives they are made out to be. Some of my recent student interactions seem to indicate that while they may be using their computers (and of course cell phones) frequently, the majority aren’t necessarily as tech savvy as I thought.
Of the 49 unique students who signed up on the on-line registration site for student council, only 21 responded that they check their email at least once a day. Another 21 stated that they check email 2-3 times per week. 5 said they check once a week, and a surprising 2 people selected the, “I’m supposed to check my email?” option. Luckily neither of those two ended up as a class officer.
More than a few students reported having troubles accessing the on-line site. I asked if they had Java enabled and they looked at me like I was speaking in tongues. I then asked what browser they were using. Again, they didn’t understand the question. Heavy sigh. I ended up asking, “Is it a blue e? A blue globe with a red fox?”. That didn’t get us anywhere. As there was no login required, I couldn’t figure out what would be causing them difficulty. The site was hyper-linked from my school web page, as well as typed on their petitions. I finally figured it out… they thought I left out the “www” on the url and were adding it in.
In the past week, three students have found me in the hall or at the football game to tell me they aren’t getting the student council email. We checked my group list and everything was entered correctly. I suggested they check their spam folders. None of the students knew what I meant. Teachable moments, yes, but somewhat disappointing nevertheless.
Finally, I was discussing a recent post in a student blog with the author and another student. Somehow the conversation turned to RSS readers. The student claimed that he doesn’t use a feed reader. He simply bookmarks the blogs he reads and checks them for updates.
So, yes they are using their computers. Are they creating/editing content on the web? I doubt it. Unless of course it is on Facebook. I suggested they create a group for Freshmen student council. That caused quite an uproar at our first meeting. I told them that I couldn’t join though, as I’m already in too many groups. I don’t think the Freshman have yet picked up on my sarcasm.
I’m open to suggestions (that don’t involve Facebook) as to how to facilitate communication and project management with my 50+ student council members. I’d prefer something with an RSS feed. Right now I’m thinking of a registration required wiki (if the school will allow it). Anyone have any ideas?