And the three year old with an iPad shall inherit the earth…

For the most part, it seems that the project is adding to my personal collection of (mis)understandings about Open Educational Resources and digital literacy. OK, it is probably a bit unfair to call them misunderstandings as it implies that an understanding – a “truth”, so to say, about OERs/DL actually exists and that’s just as problematic. But I have found it really interesting to be confronted with what seems to be a set of stock stories and reactions to my efforts at explaining what I do, with the short version being “I work on an e-learning project” and the long version is where I talk about working with teachers on a digital literacy project as part of the OER programme. Friends, family and friendly taxi-drivers quite often respond with what seems like an apocryphal story about their three-year old nephew who got hold of an iPad at Christmas/birthday/any other occasion to be inserted as appropriate and since then has proven to be very competent at using the device, leaving hapless parents far behind. It’s quite an amusing, if somewhat unsettling story, especially if you stop to consider the implications of the army of three-year old whizz kids ready to take over the planet. With my researcher hat on, I find the story fascinating, especially as I’ve encountered a version of it in so many diverse contexts and in both professional and personal settings, including at a meeting of heads of e-learning last autumn. Given the context of the project, the story resonates very well with the teachers working on our project as well as the trainee teachers we talk to, who at times seem to feel quite intimidated and threatened by that hypothetical three-year old.

I do find it fascinating that it is the toddler equipped with a mobile device that seems to be occupying the collective imaginary at the moment; with a sprinkle of moral panic about the young rising against the elders added for good measure. The focus is on the kid and its (presumed) superior digital literacy and the device becomes somewhat transparent. This makes me wonder about another somewhat DL-related story that seems to have receded into the background for now; where it was the machines which became too intelligent for their/our own good and turned against the humans. Maybe it is because we still have about six years of reprieve before Skynet rears its ugly head. Or maybe we’re on the cusp of coming up with a different story?

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