Let me preface this post by stating for the record I have over fifteen years of computer/technical support under my belt. I have maintained mainframes, I've connected computers, and I've troubleshot the most difficult of problems. I consider myself "technically conscious", up on most of the latest new computers/tablets and always willing to try new technology and see how I can use it to fit my needs.
I am in a very serious relationship with both my iphone and my MacBook.
Today, after watching a riveting BrainPop video on the layers of the earth, the students noticed something new called "Gameup" on the main page.
The conversation went something like this:
Hand waving in the air while student simultaneously shouts out, "Hey! Hey! Look at that! What's Gameup? Is it games?" Evidently visualizing some sort of video game. At school. I don't think so.
"Hey! Hey! I don't know. Do you think we should find out?" I countered.
Let's just say there was a resounding chorus of "Yes!" The excitement was palpable. Oh the pressure.
I clicked on Gameup.
Dr. Bob (an avatar) appeared on the screen, welcoming the students to "Landform Detectives". As you recall we were in the geology section of BrainPop, ergo Dr. Bob.
"Hi Dr. Bob!" several excited students exclaimed. Sheesh! Really? In just a few seconds I've been topped by an avatar!? The students were fixed on the Promethean board as Dr. Bob continued in a crisp, techno voice.
"Your mission is to uncover the processes of nature that have shaped some of the most amazing landforms across the entire planet. Can you solve riddles that span millions of years creating geological changes that affect entire continents?"
Well....no, I thought to myself. I probably can't do that.
"Click on play!" ordered one student half out of his seat, hand out to grab the mouse out from under me.
"Don't we need to click on the "Learn More" before we just jump in?" I timidly asked.
No need to answer that question. Their expressions said everything. I clicked play. A large, spinning, planet earth appeared on the screen with specific locations marked with a dot.
"Pick a dot!"
"Can I do it?"
Seems everyone suddenly wanted to explore amazing landforms and solve geological riddles.
No longer able to wait for my elderly reactions to this wonderful new found computer game, a student sitting near me just kind of gently moved closer, and ever so carefully, but assertively, took control of the mouse. I hardly noticed.
When I did notice, it reminded me of the many times when I was in tech support and I would be standing beside a user, instructing them which icon to click on, when to double click, which response to click on and I would finally just gently ease them out of their chair and take the mouse and quickly click..click.. click.
"I want to click on the one by Michigan," he declared as he swiftly manipulated the mouse and clicked on the dot near Michigan.
Wow, I thought to myself. Look how quickly he found Michigan on that map. Maybe they really did hear all the stuff about geography and Michigan. But, no time to congratulate myself. Dr. Bob was back. He was relaying facts about the Great Lakes and the glaciers and tectonic plates. Yes, I did say tectonic plates. And yes, they are eight and nine years old. But they got it. They helped each other as the one student clicked and dragged and played and manipulated time lines to answer the questions. Students yelled out suggestions and congratulated him, and each other, as they completed the first round in the game. I was impressed.
Naturally, they wanted to do more. They wanted to click on the dot in the Atlantic Ocean or discover how the Grand Canyon was formed. Out of time, I promised them they could explore and play more during our computer time next Monday. That seemed to appease then and they settled back into their seats, refreshed by our new discovery.
Until we are replaced by avatars, or some new-fangled technology, I think we should do what kids are not afraid to do, what they do every day.
I think we should just click on it.