Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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“We have a choice, They don’t”

I’m stealing this quote directly from Ben Sheridan. Not sure if he’s the one that came up with it however that’s who I heard say it so he gets the credit.

flickr photo by Zach Frailey (Uprooted Photographer) https://flickr.com/photos/zrfraileyphotography/15712427278 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license
flickr photo by Zach Frailey (Uprooted Photographer)  shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

It’s a good way to frame and point out where we are in these generation gaps. We (those of use over the age of 34) have a choice of how much of this new technology we want to adopt. Well, some choice. Nobody asked me if I wanted a chipped Credit Card.

But in the grand scheme of how we live our lives, we get to chose how much of this new connected world we want to be a part of. In almost every session I do there is at least one if not three or four teachers who either do not have a cell phone or have a non-smart phone and are completely happy with their lives. That’s great. There is nothing wrong with how you want to live your life. You are an adult that knew a different way before technology became part of what it means to live and work today. You get to chose.

Here’s the thing….a student today in our schools doesn’t get a choice. They don’t get to chose. There are very few trades that will exist by the time they hit the workforce that will not require some technology skill. There is not one university today that does not expect a student to know how to use a laptop and at a minimum know how to access work online and turn in assignments online. That’s the minimum expectation.

See in their lives…their future, not having a cell phone is not a choice. It’s the only phone that will exist. Cars will drive themselves, things will be shipped to your door in under 24 hours and all your bills will be paid online using your phone.

“They’re just so connected”

Yes they are! And so are you! Do not put the connected world we find ourselves in on this generation. If you have a cell phone, if you use that cell phone as an alarm clock, then the first thing you touch in the morning and the last thing you touch before going to bed is a connected device. You are just as connected as they are. The only difference is you remember a non-connected world. They don’t.

flickr photo by francisco_osorio https://flickr.com/photos/francisco_osorio/8424402083 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
flickr photo by francisco_osorio  shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Recently I had a teacher tell me how happy her students were to read a book. A real, paper book. They enjoyed being able to focus on reading without notifications going off on their screen, or that feeling of being distracted because you have a connection. Of course they enjoyed it….the same reason I enjoy camping at the beach with my wife with no internet connection. We enjoy being disconnected. So where are you having that experience in your classroom as well? The experience of being hyper connected and the experience of being disconnected and, here’s the important part, talking about the different “feelings” we have in those two places.

There’s a reason why the new Kindle Paperwhites are still selling. Who would buy a device that only allowed you to read? Why would you do that? Why do people buy a device that in today’s world doesn’t do 100 other things? Who would buy a device that allows you to “just read a book.”

Not only do I want students to read hyper connected text and content, I also want them to read disconnected content in books as well. But more than that, I want every teacher to have a reflective session with students on WHY we need both. On when do you use one over the other? This is the conversation we need to be having with students.

OK, after the full on week last week where I think combined I may have had 10 hours of sleep. Bali was the perfect place for me.

85 plus degrees (30ish Celsius) and a tropical climate was just what the doctor ordered. Relax, walk, shop, read and relax some more is basically what we did all week. Lay by the pool, lie on the beach, have some wonderful food…and then do it all over again the next day.

It’s good to disconnect once in awhile even when I really don’t want too. But I’m finding that disconnected for me means something completely different than before.

Disconnected use to mean no Internet access what so ever, but more and more it means disconnecting from my network of reading, writing, watching, chatting, skyping, and listening.

On this vacation I was disconnected, but still managed to check my e-mail three times, look up some information on wikipedia, and tried to convince my Mother-In-Law that Google is god and is all knowing. 🙂

I wasn’t connected to my network, but was connected for reasons of survival. I had to check my e-mail to stay in contact with the person watching our cats, I did a live chat session with my bank because our Visa card got blocked (happens quit often actually) and e-mailed friends of ours that went with up but to a different part of the Island. We stayed in contact via e-mail and made sure we knew where each other was in case something was to happen.

The Internet and the ease in which it allows us to communicate are changing my definition of being connected. I don’t call this being connected any more than I would having a phone in my room. It just ‘is’ and we need it and rely on it just like we do did the telephone in the 20th century.

Do we have to use these new ways to communicate? No, but we use them and incorporate them into our lives without thinking about it. When we left Shanghai we didn’t give our friend the number of the hotel we were staying at in case there was an emergency, instead we said “e-mail us”. When we couldn’t get money from the ATM machine I didn’t make an expensive long distance phone call to my bank. I did a live chat session. When we needed information on a stomach bug I got, we didn’t go to the local doctor, we went to the web and wikipedia for answers.

Being disconnected is brining on a whole new meaning for me. It no longer means not having access, it just means not accessing my personal network. Not checked all 6 e-mails and blogs, but only my personal e-mail. Not interacting with information but rather just reading and gathering when needed the information I want. I guess this is what happens when we have ubiquitous access.

As for Bali….please enjoy my “100 pictures of Bali” Flickr slideshow!

[tags]Bali, connected[/tags]

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