Leadership Symposium: Early Bird Pricing Ends March 24 | Register Now
School & District Management

Watching a Digital Nation in Action

January 28, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

If the Kaiser Family Foundation report on kids’ excessive media use didn’t give you enough evidence of the dominant role of technology in our lives, don’t miss the Frontline report next Tuesday on PBS titled “Digital Nation.”

The documentary, which I wrote about here, kicked off last year to take a closer look at how the Web is “transforming the way we work, learn and connect.” Frontline Producer Rachel Dretzin and Correspondent Douglas Rushkoff go from home to school to the workplace as they explore the fascination with and dependence on digital devices and the online world.

Not surprisingly, there are a range of perspectives about whether the increasing amount of time spent on social networking sites, online video and news pages, and music and gaming programs—often while doing other things—has a positive or negative impact on users.

One MIT professor, for example, shares his observations of students’ ability to absorb his course content as they are distracted by the programs they have open on their laptops during class time.

“It’s not that the students are dumb. It’s not that they’re not trying,” says David Jones as he explains how the class average on a midterm exam in medical history was just 75 percent, even though the content was covered thoroughly in class lectures and readings. “I think they’re trying in a way that’s not as effective as they could be because they’re distracted by everything else.”

The students interviewed, however, say they are quite proficient at balancing multiple mental tasks all at once.

But Dretzin interviews a Stanford researcher who has found otherwise.

“Virtually all mutlitaskers think they’re brilliant at multitasking,” Sociologist Clifford Nass says. “And what we’re discovering is that they’re really lousy at it.”

But technology is also seen as essential to learning, work, even the accomplishment of everyday tasks. “Walking into a classroom without media,” one educator says, “is like walking into a desert” for students these days.

There are some great clips of classrooms and interviews with educators about the challenges of engaging the digital generation in lessons. There are also some fascinating segments on gaming, second life, and the power of virtual worlds.

After you’ve seen it, come back and share your thoughts.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Special Education Webinar
Big Goals, Small Start: Building MTSS to Scale
MTSS is a powerful framework for supporting student success, but implementation can be challenging. Learn from districts about their MTSS success stories and challenges.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Exploring Staff Shortage Impact on Education
Learn about the impact of staff shortages, changing roles of educators, and how technology supports teachers & students.
Content provided by Promethean
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Assessment Webinar
Improving Outcomes on State Assessments with Data-Driven Strategies
State testing is around the corner! Join us as we discuss how teachers can use formative data to drive improved outcomes on state assessments.
Content provided by Instructure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management MAP: Where School Employees Can and Can't Strike
See which states do and don't allow public school employees to go on strike.
2 min read
Amy Chapman and her daughter, first grader Corinne Anderson, pose for a photo while they support teachers on strike outside Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022.
Amy Chapman and her daughter, 1st grader Corinne Anderson, show support for teachers on strike outside Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 24, 2022.
Samantha Hendrickson/AP
School & District Management Opinion How to Build a More Effective School Board
Board members are well-intentioned, but they've been mis-trained into focusing on adult inputs rather than student needs.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management What's Behind Texas' Takeover of Houston Schools
State takeovers of districts began in the 1980s but have waned recently following limited evidence of academic benefit.
5 min read
People stand in a row outside while holding signs that say "stop takeover," "hands off our schools," and "no HISD take over."
People hold up signs at a March news conference in Houston while protesting the planned takeover of the city's school district by the Texas Education Agency.
Juan A. Lozano/AP
School & District Management Superintendents' Salaries and Their Plans for Next Year, in Charts
A new survey offers a glimpse into the state of the superintendency, as some reports suggest turnover is on the rise.
1 min read
Close up of Benjamin Franklin's face on the one hundred dollar bill peeking out from behind a white curled up paper
iStock/Getty Images Plus