“Doing it to Post on You Tube”

haulin netNot content with being gym class heroes, enterprising youth at a North Carolina high school independently re-purposed a school room into a venue for sporting events.

They collaborated to establish schedules and rules of engagement, and they integrated technology to capture the action. In true entrepreneurial spirit, they packaged their product for publication and disseminated it to a global audience.

What did all the passion, organization, creativity, and technology integration get these 21st century students? It got them suspended and arrested. And rightly so.

Read more at the Sanford (NC) Herald news article: “School Breaks Up Real Fight Club.

15 boys from Lee Senior HS in Sanford, NC were suspended and arrested for staging fighting events in the school lavatory prior to the school day. The 21st century kicker is that they were filming the fights and posting the New Media to You Tube.

Of course, I am troubled that these youths think they must fist-fight their way to solutions. What’s to say they will stop at fists in the sequel?

Their use (or mis-use) of video is equally troubling. Video and still cameras are pervasive today; life is being captured in real time. Young folks (digital natives) edit video with ease on freely available digital film editing programs like iMovie, Movie Maker II, and CamStudio.

Then, as 21st century Gutenbergs, they publish their New Media work to sites like You Tube. They often make poor decisions, which can come back to haunt, about what to post to the web. Parents (digital immigrants) are often oblivious. Therefore, schools have an urgent and unavoidable imperative to teach acceptable and appropriate use of modern technology and New Media on both ethical and curricular grounds.

The North Carolina Standard Course of Study for K-12 Information Skills Curriculum and K-12 Computer Skills Curriculum is rich with goals and objectives (multimedia, curricular integration and ethics) related to New Media. By law, we must teach the information and technology curriculum strands just as we must teach others such as math, science, social studies and so on.

For practical purposes, schools need to have adequate modern technology that can handle the New Media in order to teach good use such as this late-breaking video from Morehead Middle called “Laptops Unleashed“.

For better or worse, there is no turning back on the New Media. The cover story of the Mar/Apr ’07 issue of The Futurist magazine (yes, it’s still paper-based!) focuses on The New Media Age and “what our emerging visual culture means for the written word and the future of civilization.”

Back to our enterprising youth who began this entry.

They wanted to come to school to be engaged and productive. That they did. They even exhibited many of the 21st century skills for which we decry. Done properly, their project could have resulted in a big payday. (Just think of Havelock, NC’s own Vince McMahon and the success he found with the World Wrestling Federation.)

What was lacking in their effort was they failed to seek guidance and wisdom from caring, professional, tech-savvy, future-ready adults. So, unfortunately, the students literally took matters into their own hands and discovered their own context for learning—which happened to be a high school lavatory.

The take-away message from this story for all educators is twofold:

  • Students come to school wanting to be productive.
  • We educators have an imperative to teach acceptable use of New Media.



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