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September 03, 2006



There is not a flower or bird in sight, only a small screen on which lines are moving, while the child sits almost motionless, pushing at the keyboard with one finger. As a learning environment, it may be mentally rich, but it is perceptually extremely impoverished. No smells or tastes, no wind or bird song (unless the computer is programmed to produce electronic tweets), no connection with soil, water, sunlight, warmth, the actual learning environment is almost autistic in quality, impoverished sensually, emotionally, and socially.
John Davy



Yes, the potential of impoverishment if we stay hooked to the digital line is very real. Ultimately, I think, it's not a matter of one over the other. It is a blending of all resources, of tapping into everything that draws a kids attention and heartbeat. Minus the smell of grass, the sensation of digging into mud, the joy of climbing trees, embracing the feel of the wind...computers lack much. I'm just trying to figure out how to bring it all together. Any ideas -- if you have them -- would be greatly appreciated!

Enjoyed discovering your work. Look forward to adding it to my daily read!

Cheers, Christian


I think there are incredibly powerful ways in which to have the power of nature interact with the power of the 'technological world'. For example, I took some students on a river trip last year. In meeting the requirements of the trip, the students had to come up with a lesson to teach on the river about the geology and history of the area. To prepare for this we used GIS mapping, the web for research, Google Earth to 'fly' the parents down the river... on the river students took GPS points and pictures which we then linked(using flickr) into a Google Earth file when we got back. Also, we produced a 'movie' of the trip using all of the photos that students, teachers and river guides snapped along the way... with a few sparse pieces of video here and there. The students that went on this trip enjoyed being unplugged for the trip, but when they returned the story that they were able to tell using the digital tools at their fingertips has taken their experience to many more people. There are other things that we could have done... this is just what we came up with at the time...

The thing is that students weren't sure about sleeping outside, weren't sure about floating 'big water' and weren't sure about not showering for four days... but through the digital tools they were able to connect with the place before we ventured there and after they were able to reassure others that the next time there was an opportunity like this, they should take it. The story is the same as when I was a kid, but the ability to share the story in an engaging and meaningful way with students has become much more powerful.


Diana - Having taken trips like the one you described, minus the technology and 'digital storytelling' tools we have now, I can nod my head in full agreement with your reflections! What the students did -- begin able to keep the parents abreast of the entire trip -- is what makes learning both individually and collectively powerful. You are to be commended, as are your students! Cheers...and bring me next time you float the river! Cheers, Christian

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