As many of you have may have seen by now, there is a viral video that shows the relentless bullying of a 68-year old bus monitor by what appear to be middle school students. The students are terribly cruel, and the video goes on for 10 minutes. At the time of writing this post, the YouTube video has been seen by over 7 million viewers and increasing quickly. The mainstream news media has also picked up on this story and it has generated conversations about the nature of youth in our country. It certainly seems that when something awful like this happens, we (especially the media) dwell on the negative. Our society seems to suffer from the “The Sky is Falling!” syndrome as can be evidenced by one comment under the video.
Every time I watch this video, my faith in the future generation wilts away slowly. So these are the future leaders? I may as well say goodbye now.
As awful as the experience that appears in this video, the positive response online has been overwhelming. The “Lets Give Karen — The bus monitor — H Klein A Vacation!” website was created in an effort to raise $5,000 to send Karen on a vacation. Currently, the site has raised nearly $650,000 from over 26,000 donors. No, those numbers were not typos!
So what does this have to do with technology in education?
“The Sky is Falling!” complex I mentioned above seems to be extremely prevalent when in comes to technology in education. We, and especially the media, seem to constantly focus on all the negative things happening with technology. Schools block YouTube because of videos like this. Facebook is seen as evil at many schools because of the harassing that may occur, or because of inappropriate relationships between students and teachers. Social media in general is considered a very dangerous place for students.
We often don’t consider the positive things happening with all of those technologies. What about YouTube videos that have allowed students to create a global audience? How about the teacher who drastically increased communication with students through a class Facebook page? I constantly find myself challenging schools to help their students create a positive digital footprint rather than teaching their students to be invisible online. Does your school operate with a “The Sky is Falling!” mentality, or does it challenge students to create a positive digital footprint?