Tuesday, August 28, 2007

To Hack or Not to Hack

Last spring I visited a laptop school in South Dakota. The kids were very open about their attempts to work around the system in order to access the information they want. The tech director agreed that it was a constant battle to keep ahead of the game. I wondered about the learning that was occuring through the attempts to work around the system. In Everything Bad is Good For You, author Steven Johnson proclaims that students are actually getting smarter because of their contact with computers, computer games, complex television shows and movies.

My laptop school experience came back to me this week when I heard about the iPhone hacker. Apparently a teenager did some fairly simple re-engineering and created a work around for the new iPhone. It allows it to function outside of the AT&T's wireless system. Perhaps all the practice he was getting at school paid off and now he will be recruited by engineering schools and cell phone companies. Now others are coming on the scene (as referenced in the linked article above) with more solutions for the iPhone.

So is it a good thing that our kids are learning to "think outside the proverbial box" or are we just spinning our wheels by trying to block them from what adults believe to be non-educational content? Can we expect students to learn the same way we do? Is our time better spent teaching them about responsiblity and proper usage of the internet or devising new ways to shut them down?

1 comment:

Matthew.Aarstad said...

As a network Administrator here in SD I will admit that sometimes it is a challenge to keep the students on the straight and narrow in regards to hacking. However, I will agree with you that it is a skill that can be used for good and could possibly lead to a future career in the technology world.