Last winter, I took part in media literacy actions to encourage creative participation on the Internet. One of these sessions was in IES Ribera del Duero, where I left something my friend Tomas gave me just a few days before. It was an answered questionnaires stack about what pre-adolescents (12 years old) think is important when they are going to participate in a webpage or cellphone app. To understand the results, remember to take into account that they were even free to anonymously choose which part of the questionnaire to answer or not.
Kids use the Internet. A lot.
2/3 kids concede that they use the Internet for more than an hour a day, and more than 40% use it for over two hours a day. Not bad! This has huge educational potential… that can be used or neglected. Formal education? I’m not sure. But is there anyone who could think that two attentively dedicated hours a day for a 12-year-old kid could be neglected? I assume we all understand that the key resource here is not time, but attention.
So, formal education is looking elsewhere while kids are using the Internet, instead of integrating it into the knowledge-building process. Does forbidding it in educational centers seems a magnificent idea to anyone?
What is the future like?
86% of kids in this study stated that they took part in creative activities, but only 15% of these were Internet-based. Oh yes! I am hearing a seneschal chorus over-pondering the gregariousness component of Internet usage and asking to eradicate the Internet from educational centers except in well-controlled, formal activities. With these questionnaire answers, and tons of other studies, it is clear that the Internet does not stimulate creativity.
Well, this is not so! Seneschals forbid what they cannot understand and/or not allow them to control the access to information fragments they authorize (Bourdieu dixit).
The Internet or a crayon box are not creative. A 12-year-old kid IS creative (until the educational system finishes the inexorable homogenization process). And if they are not capable of implementing their creativity over the most powerful tool at their disposal, it should be because they don’t know how to use it, the tool needs to be adapted or they have access restrictions. Three options, in any case, that are not compatible with Internet usage interdiction.
If the Internet does not remedy that, we will have been cloned by educational system crowds. Yes, that’s mainly the same as ever. But for the first time ever we have the opportunity to evade that. Do we really want to? If so, instead of forbidding Internet in educational centers, we need to understand how to instigate a kid’s participation in the new arena.
And then, we need to do it.