Center for Digital Education & Converge: research in education technology for K-12 and higher education

Digital Time Capsule Sparks Student Reflection

on December 3, 2012

A digital time capsule initiative gives students in 25 school districts a chance to think about what objects, ideas or movements define their generation.

"GenZ gold," launched by Discovery Education and Destination America, allows students from partner schools to submit pictures, videos and text that describe their items. Each entry is published online at the time capsule site. And the timing of the launch coincides with the start of a new Discovery series called Ghost Town Gold, which features two modern explorers who find treasures from U.S. history.

Seven or eight students in Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina said they were interested in the idea when technology facilitator Cindy Dunagan told them about it. They had a meeting after school, and while Dunagan provided guidance when asked, the students were in charge of their videos.

Each student in the district has a school-provided computing device, so they had the tools they needed. And because the project didn't have to be in any particular form, they could be creative in how they presented their ideas.

The students collaborated as they formed ideas, but each Mooresville student created his or her own video. Other schools and districts featured whole classes in videos.

Here are just a few of the items students submitted in the 15 videos so far:

  • a trombone;
  • Facebook;
  • social media;
  • a camera;
  • a charm bracelet;
  • teachers;
  • acceptance of diversity;
  • family;
  • trees;
  • headphones;
  • a pocket mirror;
  • smartphones; and
  • a hair straightener.

But they can't just share the items. Students also discuss why their artifact is important in their life and what it says about their generation. For example, Plouffe Academy students in Brockton, Mass., said hair straighteners "show that we care a lot about our appearances and how we look." And third-grade students from Wild Horse Elementary in Chesterfield, Mo., say that Generation Z defines "acceptance of diversity."

This project gave students an opportunity to reflect on things that are important to them and allows other people who see their submissions to gain more insight into what this generation values.

"When they're children, they still don't think very much about how much of an impact they may have on the world," Dunagan said. "And so I think it was just nice for them to reflect and to think about what they do want to be their legacy."


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Tanya Roscorla

Tanya Roscorla covers education technology in the classroom, behind the scenes and on the legislative agenda. Likes: Experimenting in the kitchen, cooking up cool crafts, reading good books.

E-mail: troscorla@centerdigitaled.com
Twitter: twitter.com/reportertanya
Google+: Gplus.to/reportertanya

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