Creator vs Customer

Author: Brad Howard   Date Posted:10 March 2017 

“The children of today will create our future, as teachers we must therefore give our students the best possible opportunity to be brilliant creators” - Brad Howard 2017

I recently spoke at a gathering of 70 teachers from 5 different schools where the teachers were learning about tools and resources for the Digital Technologies Curriculum. I asked the question “What ranking does have Australia have in the world compared to all other countries with the ownership and access of technology per head of population?” We had the audience all stand then sit down if they believed Australia was not in the top 50 countries, then top 20, top 10, top 5, top3 – by this stage there was no-one left standing. There was a look of complete surprise from the audience when I revealed to them that Australia was number 1 in the world for technology ownership and access per head of population. Most believe it is the United States, however after living in the US for 12 months in 2014 I discovered that even though they are keen users, the average salary is half the average salary in Australia yet the technology costs the same. Thus it is less affordable and therefore there is less ownership. My kids attended a large Elementary school (Primary) of 800 students where there was one computer lab and one desktop per classroom. My oldest child had an Ipad and he was asked to take it to school each day so the class could use it.

Coming back to Australia I was a keen observer of what our kids were doing with all this technology at their disposal. What I found was that if their teachers were not engaged in creating with the technology then the kids were using the technology purely as consumers by playing games and watching youtube videos. When kids are given very powerful tools such as tablets and/or smart phones which are simply consuming items then it makes you question how useful they are for improving our society not to mention the massive headache for parents to try and control at home. Even though the kids in the US had limited access and ownership of technology, they seemed to have an attitude with more emphasis on what they could create rather than what they consume. We also see what is coming from China (limited technology access and ownership) taking huge leap forwards with what they are creating with technology. Australia has the highest standard of living, the highest wages and the highest ownership of technology in the world – we’re at the top of the food chain. If we wish to remain in this position, it won’t be possible unless we become creators rather than just consumers of technology.

It is therefore the responsibility for parents and teachers as educators of the kids to ensure that we start to engrain new attitudes towards technology. Just because the kids can swipe their way around a tablet or smart phone doesn’t mean they are improving their lives, advancing the Australian economy, solving problems that can be taken to the world. The kids of today must create their future career and therefore create the new technology, solutions and ideas that can be taken to our global society. We as parents and educators must foster an environment that embraces this creativity in all facets of education for all the kids. 

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