The rules do not apply

Most of us are now familiar with the stories of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs: dropouts; garage lovers; hackers; mavericks. These digital forefathers paved the way for the software and computing revolution and, alongside the invention of the internet, the beginning of all things digital. Their stories are familiar with the present day digital innovators: when it came to applying the rules, they didn’t.

Throughout April, iOi is examining all things digital.

Digital now dominates our lives in every way. It happened seamlessly. Digital looked to enhance some services and quash others but instead it bucked that trend and permeated everything. We expected radio to fade out with the arrival of digital screen based entertainment but instead digital brought radio to a truly global audience through the internet and apps. There was concern about the book before the arrival of the Kindle and e-readers, leaving printed book sales remaining relatively stable. Even professional photographers have come round to the idea that digital has enhanced traditional photographic film.

What does all this mean, particularly for children and young people? The answer lies in the title of this post. As more industries and services become digitised and new organisations are created from scratch, offering something unimagined by many, the landscape is changing rapidly and the rules may no long apply.

Television is a good example. When wanting to view something, children and young people now interact with the internet more than TV, why? Because you can watch content when you want, there is much more of it and it’s more tailored. Not long ago, there were four television channels, now anyone can run their own. Digital entertainment is being developed by the masses and traditional rules are being broken.

Digital empowers and enables people to do things differently and children and young people are natural inventors. With digital tools in their hands and the support from educators, we can expect great things in the future. Take 10-year-old Torrae Owen who used her ‘power of imagination and thoughts’ to 3D print and build a plastic ‘superhero hand’ for her disabled peers. Torrae, used her creative application independently from formal education structures.

If we are to nurture more Torraes then our institutions need to support young makers and creators to gain access to digital’s revolutionary new tools. Our education systems need to move away from a silo approach to single disciplinary teaching and learning and create space and environments for children and young people to experiment and invent.

Ultimately we need to foster more opportunities for the rules to be broken.

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