Last weekend Massimo taught at Stanford University’s Splash program. It brings middle school and high school students from all over the Bay Area for a unique two-day event. Organized by Stanford students (Educational Studies Program), the purpose is to provide a learning experience not typically covered in a classroom setting. Topics vary widely as Splash is all about exploring new fields, experimenting and discovering new things. Stanford students, faculty and community members donate their time twice a year. We were happy to be among 200 or so teachers in the Fall 2012 event to share our passion for online tools like Google Search and WordPress.
Our first class focused on Advanced Google Search. This hour-long session covered tips and tricks in using the search giant to more effectively find things on the Web. Students were exposed to things like filtering image searches, using tools like Auto-complete, Instant, and Related Searches to get suggestions when online researching stalls. The kids were particularly interested in Search Parameters, special commands that help search within a specific site, for a specific file type, or that removes specific sites from a search string. In this interactive session students shared how they could use these search shortcuts when completing homework assignments.
Our afternoon class was all about creating a WordPress website in about an hour. If you haven’t been around 11-14 year olds recently, the term Digital Native seems an appropriate description for our audience. It was obvious that many of these students have been using technology from a very young age. We taught this class twice, and in the first session 90% of the students had already dabbled with html programming to create a simple website. When asked if this was part of a school project, they all answered “no.” They were just curious and figured it out on their own. Impressive. To be fair, it’s likely that this group of students are super motivated. They chose to spend an entire weekend devoted to learning something new and different. Even if they were heavily nudged by their parents or teachers to attend Splash or our class in particular, it’s still a commentary about how these kids learn and interact with digital media.
Overall it was a great teaching experience. The Stanford students who ran the event were exceptionally organized and gracious. We look forward to the Spring 2013 program, and hope to see you there.
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