Of ipads, Redcats, Galloping Technology and The Class of ’72

I just got back from a wonderful four days of workshops at Hot Springs Technical Institute, so I wanted to get this down while it’s still a fresh perspective for me! I’m working with an outdated processor here, so I have to dump the memory pretty quickly or something in there chews up all the information, scrambles it around like a jigsaw puzzle, then eventually, like in a day or three, it’s gone forever.

I am the proud owner of a new ipad 2, and it is truly an amazing tool. At the introductory workshop, our happy group were all trying to hit the wi-fi at the same time; needless to say, some of us were “left behind.”  “That’s technology!” the young, overly happy instructor chirped (or should I say tweeted?).  Anyway, we all just nodded, sighed, and tried once again to connect.

Another presenter for one of the myriad offerings at this year’s HSTI was attempting to log into one of the sites she was demonstrating for mind mapping.  Of course with all the computer use in the building at the time, the Internet was running like molasses in January.  She shrugged and said, “That’s technology.”  Sympathetic nods from the audience.  We were eventually off and running to all the sites she demonstrated and things went pretty smoothly from that point forward, but in the next workshop, the demonstrator was working with a Smart Board, and it wouldn’t quite pick up her input. Her Redcat didn’t do the trick on amplification either.  “That’s technology for you,” was her comment, and the entire class laughed politely, understandingly, and we went on our merry way, learning in spite of the glitches.

As I teach my classes each day at the high school and at the college level, I find myself repeating the chant I heard several times the past few days:  “Oh, well, that’s technology!” when things go awry–which they nearly always seem to do.  I use the mantra as a learning device for the students.  “What’s the only thing you can be sure of when you’re dealing with technology?”  and the students respond, “If it can go wrong, it probably will!”  Or I ask when something doesn’t work as it should:  “Is this likely to happen in the real world, or is this a problem isolated to our lab?”  The response:  “It will happen in the real world!”

With technology galloping like a wild horse into the future as it has for the past decade, there’s no telling where we’ll be ten years down the road!  The only thing I can assure you of is this: Technology is moving way too quickly for most mere mortals to keep up; sadly, we’ll have technology that will never work to its capacity or with the ease we want, because we’re not willing to wait until adjustments are made and perfection is achieved before we’re on to the next new thing.

We are like children in a sandbox, amazed and loving that first toy that’s put in front of us, but forgetting that toy when the next new one is offered. I’m wondering if the next generations will ever become expert at anything!

On a more positive note, we do tend to build on past learning and apply what we know to the next new thing. We have also become very good at adapting to new ideas.  We accept things with a shrug that would have been thought miraculous only a couple of decades ago!

When I was a senior in high school way back in 1972, our creative writing instructor asked us what technology would be like in the next 50 years. Someone said they thought we’d all have computers in our homes (yeah, right!) and have special phones that would allow us to see each other as we conversed.  The same student thought we’d all be doing our banking by computer.  I recall the whole class having a good laugh at that one!  How could the ability to see someone by phone or do your banking online be possible or even necessary?  Most of us agreed that we would definitely not want someone seeing us–the very thought!  What if we’d just gotten up and hadn’t ironed our wrinkled bell-bottoms? Or applied our blue eye shadow or sugar pink lipstick? Or made sure that handle-bar mustache was groomed appropriately? No, we definitely were against the seeing-someone-as-we-talked thingy.

Technology is astonishing.  And horrifying!  It is frightening to think what we’ll have to learn next year, let alone in the next decade.  Unless there is a mighty disaster in which technology is destroyed or disabled, our best defense (I think!) is to climb onto the back of that galloping horse, grip the mane tightly, open our minds to what is possible, and hold on for dear life! Educators are at the forefront of this sweating, panting, thunderous, unbridled stampede.

Copyright 6.17.2011, Patricia R. Roberson

About prroberson

I am a southern writer/teacher and proud grandmother.
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6 Responses to Of ipads, Redcats, Galloping Technology and The Class of ’72

  1. Brenda says:

    Thought provoking! As educators, we sometimes jump on those horses a little too late. Sometimes, we jump on at the right time but with no thought or plan of how to make that ride. As they say in life, timing is everything. As things in our world get faster and faster, I’m afraid, like you said, we may never master anything anymore. Maybe we will have to settle for being good at lots of things and master of few.

    • prroberson says:

      Brenda, thanks for reading and for your comments. I think you’re right about being master of very little in the years to come. I wonder what effect this will have on our kids?

  2. This is a wonderful post, Pat. So very wise!

  3. It’s crazy this technology treadmill but if we can use it for learning, it’s only going to be beneficial. I just worry when I see technology touted and used for technology sake, not for the tool that it is to facilitate learning, you know?

    I love the iPad though. Lots of great educational apps for kids.

    • prroberson says:

      Thanks for your comment, Melissa! I agree that there are lots of valuable technological tools out there! Our time is finite, so we’ll have to pick and choose the ones we really want to learn, and as educators the ones we think will help our students the most!
      P.S. The iPad is awesome! Loving it.

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