One thing I can’t get over – and maybe it’s a phenomenon that entrances most of us when it comes to kids and technology – is how quickly they can see the potential for creativity in the tools they pick up. My wife and I were hosting a couple and their children over for a dinner party. They had just had their second child and my wife and I were taking turns holding their infant girl. At one point my wife decided to take a photo of me holding the baby with her iPad. I responded with a big grin, showcasing my infant-handling skills. We then went back to our meal and later, a movie.

At this point, unbeknownst to the adults, the couple’s 7 year old daughter opened my wife’s iPad to an app called Kids Doodle, uploaded the picture in the app and made her own edits and modifications to the photo. Now kids using technology at an early age, knowing how to access apps and information quickly and almost intuitively, is now nothing new. What I’m drawn to (literally) is the fact that this young girl was aware of the creative potential hidden in the combination of a simple photograph and a technology that is still quite new. I don’t think I’m showing my age too much when I say that photos for me in the past were meant as records of the past, to be kept as personal archives of authentic moments and rarely altered from their original form.

But here was a little girl who recognizes that photos these days are digital in form – they can be altered and saved in multiple iterations with out fear of losing the original. More importantly for my own research interests, it demonstrated to me how young people who have grown up with digital forms of information and media see the repurposing of those forms as acceptable, perhaps even desirable. She wasn’t told to make the doodle, she just saw the potential to adjust the image to suit her imagination of what the photo already contained but couldn’t yet be seen.

The freedom and tools to repurpose information and media is a strength of our age of digital technology. That young people embrace the creativity embedded in that freedom is a powerful thread that run through nearly every discussion of educational technology today. For myself, I can imagine a future where students’ educational projects begin at a point where I would have ended when I was in school. In other words, the more information and media is open to repurposing and interpretation by students, the further the educational experience extends beyond traditional boundaries. And for me, learning best takes root in ground we can legitimately call our own.

(Reposted from