Friday, September 17, 2010

Personal Technology

Excuse me as I indulge myself with a short reflection on how recent upgrades in personal technology have or have not affected my lifestyle.

In July we made a major switch in providers of our phone line, internet, and television programming. After a careful cost comparison, I decided to go with ATT U-verse. I did in fact achieve cost savings and the installation process was fairly smooth, but I have not really taken much advantage of the interesting DVR and mobile features. Barb and I did consider the "radical" change of dropping our land line altogether, but this consideration became rather complicated by our alarm service being linked to the phone. Based on a number of factors eliminating the phone line proved to yield more hassle and less cost savings then we liked. So we'll stay tethered to the land line for a while at least.

With a rebate that I received for switching services, I bought a Blu-ray player. I love to watch movies and listen to music with good equipment. I was rather amazed to find that my new player had a wi-fi connection and the ability to stream music directly from Netflix and other sources. But I haven't taken advantage of this feature. More surprisingly, I am only occasionally aware of images or sound that is sharper or more dynamic with the Blu-ray.

So far, all hat, no cowboy.

Such is not the case with my smartphone. I am really fairly shocked by how quickly it has become integrated into my day to day. And of course this has little to do with phone calls. In fact, I call my family members less as I have begun texting my kids pretty often. My calendars are now with me wherever I go (This was possible with my iPod Touch, but I had no other reason to keep it constantly on my person). I frequently use several personal utility apps on the phone. And of course I frequently use the browser to check for information like sports scores and the like. More significantly, I've gotten into the habit of snapping pictures of this and that, emailing them about, and posting them to Facebook.

None of this is particularly revealing, I suppose. It reaffirms what most of us already know: even really cool technology doesn't inherently improve our lives. But when applied to the right circumstances it can yield immediate and comprehensive improvements. When I advocate educational technology, I'll be sure to remember this summer of geekdom. Technology may provide a terrific solution to your teaching challenge. But depending on the person and the need, some of the technology is interesting but just sort of there.

Flickr Creative Commons photo courtesy of madmaxx

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