How many times have you heard an adult say "just ask the students how to do it" when talking technology in the classroom or anywhere for that matter? I will admit that when I need a tip about making my Instagram posts look better I ask my 11 year old daughter, and when my son rolls his eyes at me and says "you just don't understand", about what kids are watching on YouTube, I ask him to explain. I have experienced a few situations lately that have reinforced the notion that just because kids are kids, doesn't mean they understand technology.
Recently at home I upgraded our video editing software and it had been awhile, so it jumped a few versions. My son's passion right now is creating videos of his friends video game activity, which prompted the "you just don't understand" when I asked him why. At any rate, I knew he would spin out when he realized how different the suite now looked. He took it in stride though and worked through the changes with one issue, the software was horribly slow. I gave the standard answer, Google the problem and see if others are experiencing the same thing. That was met with resistance and why don't we just go back to the old version. The real issue however wasn't that he was trying to avoid the problem, but he didn't understand where to begin or how to intelligently "Google" the problem. I assumed he had already opened up task manager to check how much processing power was being used, what percentage of memory was available, was the program producing any error messages, etc. Once we sat down together and started looking closer, we found the program was scanning the entire my documents folders for pictures and videos, and slowing things down. Problem solved and valuable lesson learned about trouble shooting a software issue.
We must be careful not to assume just because kids are kids they know everything about technology. I see students struggle to access their Google Apps account and create a document, share it with their peers and collaborate efficiently. These skills seem simple on the surface and any student should be able to do this, but many can not. As educators we must find ways to have these teachable moments in our classrooms. As administrators we must make sure that our teachers have the training, devices and resources to make this happen. Our students today are as just as smart and motivated as any generation has ever been, they just need that little bit of guidance and then they will go and make it even better for tomorrow.