As part of a jigsaw in class today, I asked students to email me a photo from one major event in modern (post-1949) Chinese history. One student found a suitable image using his iPhone, and then came to my assistance, because he had not idea how to use the Mail program. I was the first one to show him how he could email a photo saved to his Photo Library. And even though he had two email accounts, neither was set up on his device – he simply doesn’t use email for communication (the kids like Twitter, WhatsApp, and Viber). Once we got one set up, we was mystified by what the CC and BCC fields stood for. (Another thing the kids find difficult is the concept of email bounces. I often get kids complaining that I don’t receive their emails, and when we check their inboxes there are clearly bounce messages because they misspelled my email address – but these warnings just don’t register with them) I found the contrast between our preferred modes of communication amusing – especially since I was born in 1982 and grew up around computers myself. This just goes to illustrate the care schools need to take when deciding on electronic communications platforms – which one will best serve the greatest audience (parents, teachers, and students) at your school?
2 thoughts on “The Generational Digital Divide, Elucidated”
Good point! I think we need to balance meeting students where they’re at (for me it’s Twitter and surprisingly still Facebook) and teaching them how to use what is currently the mode of choice for adults. I’m definitely doing a lesson next year on Subject Headings, proper greetings and use of “reply all.”
Even what adults use is based on cultural context – a lot of adults here in Kuwait use WhatsApp as their primary means of communication. I doubt many of THEM know how to use email properly.