These are my notes from Hall Davidson’s keynote at the Oklahoma Technology Association’s luncheon on 18 Sept 2008 titled “The Revenge of the Digital Immigrants – Teaching to the New Brain.” MY THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS ARE IN ALL CAPS. HALL IS LETTING ME RECORD THIS SESSION TO SHARE LATER AS A NON-COMMERCIAL PODCAST.

digital immigrants v digital natives
– people growing up in the digital age think differently

example video of 5th grade student showing Google Earth on her Macbook
– she inserted photos in Google Earth, embedded videos
– 5th grade Los Angeles video

old black and white video about transition from middle school to high school

the way your students think has changed
– we now know to blame: the babysitter (TV)
– kids would park in front of it
– American pediatric association always said don’t watch more than 3 hours of TV per day, but the average is 6

Look at the data: “Those who watch more television at 5 and 7 … difficulty paying attention at 13 and 15”

30 pictures per second is what our brains are used to on TV
– TV shots change about every 3 seconds with “cuts”
– if you have kids who are moving around every 3 seconds, that is because they have been wired for that

Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in 2007

example of a bridge that the span fell down
– if you generate a good video game, you have decision points all along the way
– to have a lesson that works, you have to pay attention to the

in LA we have schools with a dropout rate over 50%


Maximizing time for retention
– television commercials
– old commercials on
– 60 second

now: 15 seconds: dirt, bad, use this
– someone will pay millions of dollars to get your head for 15 seconds
– 15 seconds are the longest ad

some people are now launching 60 second ads for cars and other things, it really seems like a long time

this all means we need to change the way we deliver instruction


Short video clip Hall inserted from an airport of a plasma screen showing ads
– people suddenly

VHS tapes are not used effectively because you show them from beginning to end
– better way to use video is in short bursts
– we paid teachers all over the country to create lesson plans which told teachers to just play

example on “Earthquakes: Our Restless Planet” from Discovery’s United Streaming
– clip of teacher high tailing it out of the classroom

with media, you have all the stuff underneath that come with it (Photo of iceberg and most of it is under the water’s surface)
– kids can pick

“but wait, there’s more….”

kids little plastic brains have been shaped by media that changes every 15 seconds

first, survey of teaching experiences

– How many of you have taught more than 10 years?
– How many would say that kids are smarter today?

only group that says kids are not smarter today is educators
– kids are the only ones who can use the TV remote control
– who shows you how to use the cell phone?

There is some data that shows kids are smarter

who would say that kids are heavier today than they were 20 years ago?
– showing data on childhood obesity
Time: June 23, 2008 table

data now shows non-nutritive food and beverages

put both a diet coke and a real coke in wather: the diet coke floats, the real coke doesn’t
– there is lots of corn syrup in real coake

so we train our bodies to develop a body type that maximizes food retention

Cloned Cats
– rainbow
– cc
– turns out cloned cats don’t look alike
– you pay 30K
– in utero, the information that comes in really changes the cat’s coat
– identical DNA

Data hard to swallow
– Nov 2007, James Flynn, Scientific American
– graph of bars going up
– IQ stores rising
– “unexpected and massive gains”

no one can figure out why this is happening
– in developed countries

“genes have profited from…. strong feedback loops between peformance and environment”
“enhanced problem solving skills have become necessary to fully enjoy…”

2 phones: black dial phone, and a text messaging phone
– the 2nd phone really is hard to

large eastern area codes are short to dial: 212 in New York
– you have a 9XX area code, you probably live a long way from very populated areas

here is what is tested:
– WISC stuff
— information
— arithmetic
— vocabularly
— comprehension
— more…

What has gone up: RAVEN’S test stuff

this is why teachers alone among professionals don’t think kids have gotten smarter, the Nov 2007 Scientific American

“Age Compression”
– kids moving away from toys years earlier than in the past. they are moving to technology.
– age 6: “Can I have an iPhone for Christmas?”

their brains like problems, they like challenges
– the people who sell to kids have figured this out, we need to figure it out too

2 examples of short burst media

2nd video is more engaging: I am in it!

Chromakey comes on board with a new mac
– in Windows you have to hack into Win movie maker to do it

Find a monochromatic wall in your school (lots of those)

can make a video with PhotoBooth
– more kids are engaged by that
– example from a continuation high school
– kids who were dropout risks: one was writer, producer

Project by Robert Del Campo, Val Verde Continuation School – California

All these were kids that were not served by their first high school
– continuation high school is 3 hours per day, last step before juvenile hall

all of these kids from this program now have plans for post-high school education
– these kids were engaged

Example of kids building a project on reading
– they have “reading comprehension angels” that come and help


Example of Shel Silverstein story
– took still photos of the kids
– then the kids narrated the story
– kids are talking about “is it a real story?”

Video example of PhotoStory
– free program on the PC, let’s you build stories from still images
– free and legal music included

getting kids who are preliterate to know their lines can be a big challenge, but kids can do it!

For NECC for 4 years, looked at data for rests and CA media festival, scores went up the year after
– even though they spent lots of time
– example of Grapes of Wrath
– highway 66 all the way to California

examples of conversation about intellectual property with students on iChat

for next session, send the students a Google earth file
– included embedded photos in GE of Hall in his neighborhood

Brief reference to Google SketchUp

that is where students’ intelligence lies: in putting things together and doing these projects

Cultural evidence of intelligence increasing
– so now look at a real cultural marker: television programs
– video of Dr Kildare
– video of House
– both have a doctor at the core
– both episodes start with a phone call
– hall is showing opening starts of both videos

Which of these videos are directed at a higher level of intelligence?
– both of these did very well in Nielsons
– we are living in a smarter culture now

New Brain Teaching
– it does match the standards
– you can do things on cell phones…

Lectures from Harvard, Stanford, MIT, now available…

Story of Hall trying to hijack his daughter’s iPod by putting a recording of intellectual
– she hacked into his Lotus notes to put herself on his calendar 🙂

our non-working time has been ruined by cell phones, why shouldn’t theirs?

Story of Hall’s grandmother born in 1903, died in 200
– what you do in the hyphen is what matters
– “the hyphen criteria”
– we have the hyphen in K-12

We will reach those digital natives in the best possible way

Handouts online at

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