I’m writing this entry after the first day back at school from summer vacation (here in the USA). Only staff is here at school this week; students start next week. It’s been a very busy day with barely enough time for the “hellos” and “hugs” and “How was your summer?” queries. Great to see everyone. Great to catch up. Next week will be even more enjoyable as 500+ students file past me in the halls and I hear all about their adventures and journeys from the summer months. Being a technology teacher, I also get treated to hearing about all the new technology that’s come into their lives. This always comes in two big waves: after the Summer hiatus and after Winter Holiday break. I get to witness some of the tipping points with technology adoption this way, as when 2 years ago, I heard about a huge influx of iPods in holiday stockings.
I was reflecting on how much things have been changing in such a short time when I posted a TED video featuring Kevin Kelly on the Next 5,000 days of the Internet on my blog a couple of weeks ago. I can’t wait to show this to students. I’ll ask them to predict how the Internet will evolve in the next 5,000 days… in the next year… in the next week. It’s all moving at lightning speed. It’s amazing to see the changes in how I can watch the Democratic Convention on the Internet compared to 4 years ago. When Obama spoke back in 2004, I watched him in low quality video the size of a postcard. Now I’ll watch him in High Definition video streaming directly from the convention (not a television station’s stream) at full screen and even choose which camera shot I want to view. The video quality is so stunning that I confess I sometimes miss what’s being said as I stare in disbelief, scanning the image for any degradation, unable to find any flaws. Why would I ever want to watch the convention on regular TV when it looks this beautiful and isn’t interrupted by commercials on my computer?
So… here come our students after having spent 2 and a half months away from us. How many will return with iPod Touches? What will that mean? It’s not the same as when my students returned with iPods because… let’s face it: these are actual computers in their pockets. How many will return with brand new MySpace accounts? How many will have put a fresh coat of paint on their existing MySpace accounts… perhaps with a more “mature” appearance? What new Web 2.0 tools will our students arrive with that we haven’t even heard about? What new skills will students arrive with? What have they been doing on the computer all summer?
As educators we need to make time for these questions when they come back if we’re to keep up, but more importantly, to show that we’re interested and involved with their digital lives.