“Back in my day…”



Society as a whole seems to be afraid of change and advancement of technology, and it does not just apply to the “old folks.” My seventy year old grandpa consistently tells me that “the internet is a fad” and that “there is no sustainability on computers.” He is so afraid of change that he denies advancement and sticks to old routines. He is afraid of even DVD players, satellite TV, the internet, and cordless phones. And he’s not alone.

Any twenty-something year old that one converses with seems to be of the common opinion that elementary and middle years students do not need phones, laptops, and so forth. In my opinion, we assume this because of two things:

  1. that these new consumers are limited to using the technology the same way that we used it (text messaging and calling)
  2. that something historically defined as a nuisance for education (“NO TEXTING IN CLASS!” is engrained in our heads) can’t have learning and real world value.

When I first went into the classroom and had a mentor teacher, I was shocked to see students running around with laptops, digital cameras, cell phones, ipods, and tablets/ipads. These students used these tools to write down notes on a tiny screen with a tiny notepad and take photos of their blog.

My initial reaction was of me being appalled. I thought to myself “how could taking a photo of notes possibly stimulate learning and remembrance of lessons?!” But after a short time thinking of it, I began to see the benefits of considering the possibility of these as tools, rather than hindrances.

The students had to create a blog to upload videos, photos, text, and other methods with the goal of teaching the viewer (their teacher and parents) how to multiply 3 by 2, for example. The students would open their ipod to the notepad and start to re-write the material (which is, of course, re-engaging the material) and re-wording it so that not only they understand it themselves, but the viewer does as well. They would upload photos with classroom laptops and computers onto the web and embed it into the blog with a video or text explanation of how it works.

I see nine and ten year olds learning guitar with an iPAD, skyping with their smartphone with their friends, documenting every moment of their life with photos, and while it’s scary what this technology can do with a misspelled word in a google search, it’s incredible how these technologies are shaping everyday life and how people, but especially the newest generation, is learning.


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