Featuring commentary on educational technology from down in the trenches.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Ode to a Land Line
Flickr CC Photo by alfromelkhorn
This past week, my wife and I passed a significant technological milestone. . . . (at least for our demographic). We got rid of our land line phone. Granted, to younger folk and the masses of other cultures, having the expensive redundancy of a house phone in addition to a mobile seems ridiculous. But to us, the home phone seemed such a basic feature of family life. We waited until it was pretty obvious that it had become useless-- neither of us were picking up the voice mails left there and the telemarketing calls outnumbered those we might care to answer. In fairness, we were ready to make the move last year, but we changed from cable to DSL, purchasing a new package that made it cost-effective to hang on to the old ways until this month even though we both have iPhones and have steered nearly all friends and family to our mobiles. At this point, you may we wondering, "So what?" That's exactly what I am anxiously wondering, "So what does radically evolving landscape mobile devices and virtually ubiquitous connectivity mean for education?". And more urgently for me, "So what should my school be planning in terms of infrastructure, hard ware, software, and professional development? I know that applications and storage are moving to the cloud. I know that the reasons for spending money for a laptop instead of a mobile are becoming fewer. I know it takes far less training to teach a student or teacher to use a "phone" than a "computer", even as they ironically become less and less distinguishable. I also know there are huge cultural issues to overcome. Administrators correctly believe that students are far more adept at using technology socially than for rigorous learning. Having such terrific access to information is a marvelous boon for education, but if we start to give up uniformity of software and machinery, what will this mean for the classroom? The consequences of my choosing to slog behind the times by staying with my good old land line were almost inconsequential. But holding onto a land line mentality at my school in specifically and education in general has major consequences. So what's cutting edge in instructional technology, today? Droids? Twitter? Google Apps? iPads? I am not sure at all, so please tell me. But make it quick because your answer might change in a couple of months!