So I was thinking about computers as they were when I was growing up. Our family didn’t have a computer at home, but my Dad was (and still is) an electrical engineer who mainly programs for a living. He brought home a terminal computer with a snazzy phone-coupler modem for getting on his work machine and playing Adventure, etc. During this time the technology at work dictated the technology used at home, at least with regard to computing. In a very Reaganesque “trickle-down” way, perhaps.
This mantra has shaped how schools make their decisions for the past decade or so. School boards will say “let’s make sure we train kids in what’s going on in the workplace” or some other logic along those lines, and adapt. We get Windows, we get Exchange, we use Outlook and Word and Powerpoint and all of the other technologies associated with businesses. Any other thing you might be using a computer for? Not in the real world kids, Office is where it’s at.
No longer is this the case.
I realized it this past summer when our technology dept. started getting lots of inquiries on how to hook iPhones up to their network. I realized it when kids were coming into my class not knowing much about audio production, but knowing how to use GarageBand. I’m starting to realize it when businesses are starting to ditch Office for Google Apps and Blackberrys for iPhones. See where I’m going with this?
Consumerland now drives the progress, not the other way around. Businesses are now in a following position with regard to technical innovation.
I won’t go into the whys of this here, but I will go into how this impacts schools. Kids come to school either with tech experience or without. Those with demand the tools they use to create at school be at least comparable to those they use at home. Think of this next time you force a student to do a complex project in Finale Notepad or Audacity, for instance. Many of the students already know more powerful and easier to use programs.
Those without aren’t necessarily ignorant of tech trends either, they just experience them through a different set of lenses…all students can tell if they’re using outdated machines or dysfunctional software. It’s important to follow the technology trends, wherever they’re coming from.
Let’s let go of the old “follow the corporations” mentality and teach technologies that kids know are relevant, regardless of their origin.