The last three months have been intense. It felt like we slammed on the brakes hard while simultaneously manouevering round a tight corner at top speed on the edge of a cliff, not sure whether we would survive the experience.
So, we had our first virutal music summer camp this week, I must say with some trepidation. We have never been here before (neither have 90% of the music education industry). But we made a conscious decision at the onset of COVID to embrace technology and remain as relevant as we could be in the new age in which we find ourselves. And so my team and I worked hard to create a series of Olympic themed music programmes to be delivered entirely virtually.
But this week, we discovered something we were not expecting. We found that the children for whom we were making this transition had arrived at the destination before us. They were settled and comfortable in this digital space. For them, the virtual world has always been home. The rest of us where simply catching up.
The children in our summer camp age bracket are known as Generation Alpha, the first generation to be born entirely in the 21st century. These children have no experience of a world pre smartphones. Their parents are mostly millenials and are themselves, digitally savvy, using technology in a myriad of ways in both corporate and domestic settings.
For Generation Alpha, technology is part of their identity. All the content of our virtual camp is delivered using a myriad of digital tools and I was worried about the technical complexity behind the programme. However, many of the children took to it like a duck to water. The testimonial of this parent below is a case in point:
Having said that, the most popular sessions were those that involved using technology to interact with other children. Thanks to technology, we were able to group the children in all sorts of interesting ways so they could build friendships across school and indeed geographic borders as we had children from outside Nigeria take part. It seems like while Generation Alpha are likely to be the most tech savvy people on the planet, their preference is for technology that fosters human connection. And long may that be.
Next week therefore, we will build in more interaction between our “Olympiads” and incorporate a lot more collaborative activities. I am excited about where this Generation can take us and I look forward to learning as much from them, (and probably more), as they would from me.
While we must take seriously our responsibility for safe-guarding the welfare of our children both online and offline, let us not allow our anxieties to hold them back from experiencing the many positive experiences that technology, used wisely, can provide.