Educating Google Generation Demands Change, Will After-School Take Lead?

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Jaime Casap

Jaime Casap, photo by Leonard Witt  

NEW YORK — Jaime Casap, Google’s official global education evangelist, told a gathering of afterschool educators in New York City that they must learn to work with a generation of students who have never known life without Google. He added, “How they learn to do things is fundamentally different from the way we learned to do things.”

When he grew up, the local branch of the New York City library system was his main source of knowledge. Today, he said,  “We have all the world’s information at our fingertips.”

He told National AfterSchool Association (NAA) conference attendees of buying his daughter a ukulele. Then he asked if she wanted any of the DVDs or how-to books in the shop. She gave him the clueless look. She knew where to learn. It would be by watching YouTube videos and then in time she would connect with someone via those videos who would give her even more instructions.  

Our youth, Casap said, “are not waiting for someone to tell them what to do, they are doing it themselves. When we try to control things, when we say this is the curriculum, or this is the box, we are limiting their potential and what is possible.”

He said to think of a five-year-old and then think of your favorite device, be it a smartphone or a tablet, “and realize that technology that you have is the worst technology that that five-year-old will ever see in her life. It’s their Commodore 64.”

The swift advances in technology mean afterschool programs must prepare kids for jobs that haven’t yet been invented, Casap said.

Yet for all these changes, classrooms look much the same as they did when he went to school, Casap said.

“Education is not about homework and worksheets. Education is a big thing,” he said. “It happens in the home, it happens in whatever school is, it happens in afterschool programs, it happens at night and it happens forever.”

Casap reminded the audience: “We are just getting started, we are at the very, very, very beginning of this revolution.”

If we can figure out how to build great learning models using technology, Casap said, we will be able to do unbelievable things in the future. For him, some of the steps include: We must help youth become problem solvers. They must learn that success is iterative, step by step. They need to work collaboratively because “we work in a team-based world.” Plus, collaboration is more than working together — it is listening and learning, it is being able to create something that will get better as others work with you on it and, finally, it is the ability to change your mind.

He added that we need our children to become digital leaders, not just digital citizens; they must create and not just consume digital information. And thanks to the world-wide connections they must become global citizens.

Addressing the sweeping educational change Casap outlined, Gina Warner, executive director of the NAA, said, “If it does happen, it will be after-school taking the lead. We don’t have the limitations our partners in formal education traditionally have. We have the opportunity to do things differently, to try things, to experiment, to innovate, and that’s what makes this work so exciting.”