and Growing by Giving : Children as Agents of the ICT
Prof. Edna Aphek
Children and the New Technologies
kids really do know how to use the Internet and they want
it to be exploited in the ways they know it can be exploited.
the classroom and outside of any formal instruction, the Internet
is a key part of their educational instruction."
Pew Internet and American Life Project August 2002
a well-known fact that children nowadays master computer skills
at a very early age and often better than adults. Our youngsters
also master many qualities usually attributed to grown-ups.
a book called Growing Up Digital, Don Tapscott describes
the youngsters, whom he calls the N-Generation (net generation),
as: Tolerant, Curious, Assertive and more Self assured Emotionally
and intellectually open. "The Net Generation", summarizes
Tapscott, "is a generation that combines the values of
humanism with social and technical aspects".
systems have been investing much time, money and energy in
teaching teachers computer and internet skills, often without
process of teaching grown-ups a skill in order that later
on they would teach it to youngsters, coincides with traditional
and old assumptions - that the older teacher is the ultimate
source of knowledge.
has been a shift in the role and status of children caused
by children's mastery of computers. Children speak the language
of High-Tech as their mother tongue whereas older people are
"immigrants" in the land of technology, not familiar
with its language.
a world where many children speak the language of computer
and the internet as their "mother tongue", where
many of them possess the qualities that make good teachers,
it would be most appropriate and only logical to put children's
mastery of computer and internet skills to use for the benefit
of society at large in various ways and by means of different
The digital divide has been looked upon in many countries
and rightly so as a major problem. We, in Israel, try to look
upon it as a "probotunity". I learnt of this term
from the Brainstorming site http://www.brainstorming.co.uk/.
term probotunity means looking at a problem as an opportunity.
opportunity is there, in combining the deep thorough knowledge
of computer and internet skills, at the hand of our youth
with the giving of this vast knowledge to others.
The following is a number of on- going projects in Israel
.In all of them, young children, computer and Internet savvy,
give of their knowledge to others, be it their peers, other
children, their teachers or senior citizens. By so doing,
they themselves are empowered: they take upon themselves new
responsibilities and acquire new meaning in their lives, by
extending themselves beyond themselves.(1)
"computer kids" serve as "computer Trustees"
in their schools and in the community. By Computer Trustees
we are referring to a multi-age group of volunteering students,
computer oriented, with high EQ (Emotional Intelligence),
responsible and willing to give others of their time and knowledge.
These students aren't necessarily the traditionally "good"
teachers and students
this project initiated by Dorit Bachar, students tutor and
coach their teachers in computer and internet skills on one
to one basis. They serve as their teacher's private tutor
and help the teacher and work with him/her according to the
teacher's pace and needs.
youngsters also serve as trouble shooters in school, at the
computer lab and during class as they solve computer problems
encountered in the classroom. A survey conducted in 2002,
by NSBF in 90 schools in the US reports that , "Fifty-four
percent of the schools surveyed said that students provide
technical support and 43 percent said students troubleshoot
hardware and software problems."
Trustees serving as telephone helpdesk for the community
youngsters' knowledge and mastery of the ICT is very impressive.
They also seem to enjoy immensely their new role as tutors,
teachers and coaches. They do it at home with their family
and they help their friends over the phone. Now they are also
serving as a helpdesk for the community: giving telephone
support in the afternoons, providing the public with hardware,
software and web support.
School Web Sites
many schools, worldwide, students build their school's web
site and often maintain it. They help in creating databases
and assist teachers in uploading educational materials to
Special Education Children
computer in addition to being the playground of the children
of the Information Age also serves as a meeting ground for
children coming from different backgrounds and educational
frameworks, who might not have met but for the new meeting
place, the computer. In this project Computer trustees tutor
other computer trustees, who have learning disabilities or
study in special education classes: Together they clean computers,
install software, create work sheets, surf the web, etc.
program is geared to connecting industry and business with
the school. In this project a few students from each school
and a teacher are trained by computer experts in the industry.
They learn how to program and develop new software. The trainees,
in turn, teach what they have learnt to all other computer
trustees in their school.
Intergeneration Connection Program
program , initiated by Prof. Edna Aphek, aims at minimizing
the intergeneration gap and the digital divide by having school
children tutor seniors at computer and internet skills and
at the same time write together with the seniors a digital
"mini e-book" based on a chapter from the senior's
cooperative work of children and seniors enables youngsters
to enhance their inter-personal intelligence through a process
of teaching-learning and at the same time enables seniors
to overcome the digital gap and become connected, involved
and active. The program also helps in debunking unfounded
myth and prejudice, and creates heart-warning intergenerational
last but not least this program which combines the old and
the new helps us in preserving knowledge at risk of disappearance
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