While I do believe, based on 16 years of teaching and research in educational technology and a vast research literature that supports this view, that children of all ages CAN and often DO accomplish amazing things with technology, I have also learned that amazing digital work by children usually emerges in response to a rich invitation into meaningful and engaging inquiry - a big question, an enduring idea, an wicked problem to solve. When children do amazing work using digital forms, it usually involves reliable and robust hard/software and networks, and occurs in a strong culture of inquiry, expectation, pressure and support, and is guided by knowledgeable teachers and parents.
In the many classrooms that I visit, teach and conduct research in, kindergarten to university students complete high quality projects, create rich and diverse online portfolios, collaborate and create knowledge online, and stun me with creative and beautiful performances using technology -- I have seen these achievements occur Most Often When (MOW):
- Students are asked to do work that is authentic, meaningful and interesting, and gives students an opportunity to express their unique character and diverse strengths;
- Students are asked to do work that is academically rigorous, work that is deeply connected to a discipline, or to several disciplines, that represents work that historians, mathematicians, artists, authors, scientists, DO;
- Students are connected to experts and rich sources both within and beyond the school, both in person and online;
- Students have a role in designing assessments of high quality work and students receive regular feedback on their work, formative assessment is focused on continual improvement, and reviews of their work come from several sources (i.e., teacher, peers, parents, experts in community);
- Students use technology appropriately, which means building knowledge more effectively, efficiently or differently with technology, and even better, that the technology enables teachers and learners to do something new, something they cannot do without the technology.
For authentic images of the learning and creation that children are capable of when they learn with technology, I encourage you to take a trip through some academically rigorous, inquiry-focused, technology-enhanced projects completed by students and teachers at the Galileo Network's Inquiry Exhibits site: classroom exemplars.