I have been asking for a positive article on students’ online lives for some time. Still waiting, so I wrote it myself:
This is more than a post about a new website. It is a post about an 8th grader in Indianapolis who decided to run his own news service, using free and easy to use web tools. Kyle Bandy, a self-described “junior high computer nerd,” started his own news site using the new web 2.0 news site Newsvine.com.
Since January 29th, Kyle has written 7 of his own articles, reviewed 6 other articles, and has received direct comments from over 111 readers from around the globe. Kyle has written on the possible creation of a .XXX TLD, cell phones being banned in school, Chinese government Internet censorship, President Bush’s State of the Union, iPods being banned in school, hypocritical enforcement school tech policies, and an article critiquing Apple’s latest iPod update.
Kyle is going to graduate in 2010. He is online, and will be online for the foreseeable future. His online life includes a barely-used MySpace profile, a now defunct Xanga site (friends stopped using it) and his Newsvine site. He is certainly engaged with web sites that many think are ultra-dangerous for teens (and in some cases they are). But, Kyle is a great example of what is possible when young people are able to use the web productively. He communicates with friends, studies and writes about local and world issues, engages in international communication with readers and explores his interests in computers and technology.
My rhetoric: There is something undeniable about the web. Young people flock to it, heck I flock to it. Culture is a strange thing, because those pushing it forward (read: young people) generally come head to head with those who developed it before (read: less-than-young people). We are there now. Let’s partner with some of the brightest minds to ever live, young people, and see how we can push the web to its limits together. One generation defining it for the other (in either direction) just has no chance.
I interviewed Kyle via e-mail to write this, and here are some highlights from that interview:
Question: Why did you start the Newsvine site?
I started my Newsvine column because I wanted to show the world my opinions. I also wanted to see what other people’s views were on my opinions. Take my article entitled “Should iPods be Allowed at School?” for example—I wrote that article to get my opinion out to people that I honestly believe that if iPods were allowed at my school, it would be a change for the better.
Question: Do you have any other websites?
My father has made two websites…He lets me use some space on [example.com] for whatever I may need to put up on the web. For example, whenever I have a test in any of my classes, and our teachers give us a study-guide, I fill out the study guide and put it up online at www.study-guide.[example].com. (Note that my teachers do know that I am doing this, so I am not letting students copy my work or anything like that.)
Question: Give me some examples of how you would like to see computers used in your school
Well, I think there is a lot of stuff my school could do with computers, but they just haven’t. One thing is perhaps audio (or even video) podcasting of all classes so that if a student misses a class, they can just watch the podcast. Or to study for quizzes and tests, they could just rewatch their teacher’s lectures. I myself listen to many tech podcasts (e.g. thisWEEKinTECH, dl.tv, et cetera) and I know that they are very educational. (of course, I also listen to Newsvine’s own podcast, VineSeeders) I also, think teachers should incorporate technology even more into their curriculum. Of course, over time this will need to happen—after all, I believe that someday almost everything will be done with the assistance of computers, and I can’t wait until that day!!!
If we as teachers can’t take advantage of this enthusiasm, do we really deserve our students’ attention?