Category AV in Education

Why Today’s Teenagers Are Wired Differently

By Dr. Jennifer Brown King, Florida Southern College:

In his article “Mission Possible: Teachers Can Inspire Today’s Screenagers,” Marc Heller, head of school at Academy at the Lakes in Tampa, Florida, brings to light what is becoming undeniably obvious: Our children are growing up in a world that is very different from the one in which we grew up.  Let’s face it.  Our playground consisted of monkey bars, swing sets, a squeaky merry-go-round, and the see-saw. Do these relics of the 20th century, which bring to mind nostalgic images of those golden hours of freedom after school, still exist for our children?  What is the playground of our children?  Anything with a screen (even a teeny tiny one), including portable gaming systems and home gaming consoles, hand-held tablets, and cell phones (seldom used for talking).  For this reason, Don Tapscott, author of Paradigm Shift (1993) and Growing Up Digital (2000) calls the children of today “screenagers” or “the first generation that has grown up with a computer mouse and the assumption that images on a screen are to be interacted with.” Hence, the term “screenagers.”

Our children may look like us, chips off the ol’ block, but researchers have proof that they are simply wired differently. The wiring difference, discovered through advances in brain research, is a result of the constant bombardment of visual stimuli. Writer Marc Prensky, who coined the terms “digital immigrants” (you and me) and “digital natives” (our children), believes that Millennials or the generation spanning from about 1982 to 2004 will have played more than 10,000 hours of video games, sent and received 200,000 emails and texts, spent 10,000 hours on cell phones, watched more than 20,000 hours of TV, and seen more than 500,000 commercials by the time they reach 21 years of age! I say this is nuts even as I shamefully confess, as a parent of screenagers, to announcing dinner time via text, then finally on FaceBook when no one comes scurrying downstairs to the table!

Heller references Ian Jukes, who indicates that a screenager’s consistent stimuli, like hours spent gaming, texting, and the like, have created new and high-speed pathways in their brain. Consequently, screenagers have learned to process information differently and faster than their parents — and yes, teachers — and excel in visual memory and processing. In fact, their brains are hard-wired to process visual images infinitely faster than text! For humans, in general, research has shown that the memory recall rates for 10 seconds of visual content are significantly higher (90% accuracy) after several days than when information is presented orally (10% accuracy). However, when pictures are added to a traditional oral presentation, memory recall rates skyrocket to 65%. 

What are the implications of this brain research for educational technology? Heller says that with the simple addition of supporting visuals and engaging graphical displays provided by interactive technologies, teachers could increase student retention by as much as 650%. When we consider the natural propensity of screenagers to recall visual content (versus oral content) along with the reality that screenagers and their teachers are wired differently, it’s clear that we are facing what Heller deems a “brave new world.”  Simply put, screenagers have different preferences for learning from their parents and teachers.

I agree with Heller.  Screenagers are visual, multimedia learners; however, their schools and classrooms are populated by teachers who are wired differently.  Here are four examples:

  • Screenagers prefer receiving information quickly from multiple multimedia sources. Many teachers prefer a slow and controlled release of information from limited sources.
  • Screenagers prefer processing pictures, sounds, color, and video before text. Many teachers prefer to provide text before pictures, sounds, and video.
  • Screenagers prefer random access to hyperlinked multimedia information. Many teachers prefer to provide information linearly, logically, and sequentially.
  • Screenagers prefer learning that is relevant, active, and instantly useful and fun. Many teachers prefer teaching memorization in preparation for standardized tests.

In the 20th century, teaching with a lot of visuals was very difficult and expensive until the advent of the digital age.  As such, teachers created a very auditory, text-based culture that still exists in many 21st century classrooms. Though wired differently, I encourage teachers to embrace this brave new world of visual learning imbued with rich, graphical, multimedia content.  It is a world to which screenagers can relate!

Editor’s Note

If you are an educator interested in learning how to use video-based technology in your classroom, visit AVI-SPL’s Professional Development Resources and Training for Teachers.

Register for AVI-SPL’s Free Webinar on SMART Notebook 11

Join us Thursday, August 9 at 1 p.m. EST for “What’s New in SMART Notebook 11,” presented by AVI-SPL’s Professional Development Curriculum Director Kelly Derushia. SMART Notebook 11 was released in the spring and adds numerous features to engage students. Join us for this webinar on the new features included in Notebook 11 such as: HTML5, new toolbars, Activity Builder, crayon and photo media tools. Learn how to integrate web tools into your SMART Notebook files and how to build interactive games with the Activity Builder. This webinar is geared toward SMART Notebook users that have used Notebook before but now have Notebook version 11 and want to learn what is new and different.

 Register for “What’s New in SMART Notebook 11.”

Kelly DerushiaAbout the Presenter

As Professional Development Curriculum Director for AVI-SPL, Kelly Derushia oversees professional development offerings that help K-12 educators integrate technology within their classrooms. He has over 10 years of teaching experience, and has been recognized Who’s Who Among American Teachers for five years straight. Derushia is a SMART Exemplary Educator and was a facilitator for Dr. Jennifer King’s Summer Technology Institute at Florida Southern College in 2011.

Students, Teachers Interact and Share With Samsung Smart School Solution

At last week’s InfoComm 2012 event in Las Vegas, Samsung exhibited its Smart School solution.  A 65″ eBoard  works with both Windows-based PCs and Android operating systems, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, allowing teachers to move freely around the room while giving interactive lessons. Teachers can also share specific student screens as well as interactive content like quizzes and polls. Watch the InfoComm presentation at the link above, and look at this demonstration of the Samsung Smart School solution in the classroom:


Master Technology for Your Classroom

This year’s Summer Series events have doubled from last year.  At four locations — Tampa, Orlando, Detroit and Lanham, Maryland — you can learn about integrating technology into your teaching practice during three-hour sessions.  Topics will include:  SMART Notebook Software,  SMART Response software, iPad apps for education and creating digital content for your classroom.  Select the links below to see what you can learn this summer.


Distributing Sound and Video for FIU’s School of International and Public Affairs

A successful integration is more than the sum of its high-profile equipment and solutions – those displays and video conferencing equipment that provide the “wow factor.”  Florida International University’s new home for its School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) required the latest audiovisual presentation solutions for areas including a 300-plus seat auditorium, two distance-learning interactive classrooms, multimedia classrooms, and two conference rooms with high-definition video conferencing capabilities. And while there’s plenty of “wow” to be seen, AVI-SPL delivered the signals and sounds by implementing solutions by TV One, Tannoy, Liberty AV and Extron. 

Tannoy speakers deliver clear, strong audio to attendees in the conference and boardrooms, and Liberty AV wall and floor plates are essential to making connections in the auditorium, classrooms and boardroom.

All of the video signal distribution and amplification is handled by Extron solutions while signal scaling and up, down and cross conversion is trusted to TV One equipment. Discover additional solutions that AVI-SPL used when you read the project profile of AVI-SPL’s integration for FIU SIPA.