Monday, May 26, 2008

What do you mean, Your Pen is out of Ink?

Many years ago, when the first ink-filled pen was invented, people found something wrong with the new technology. The pen would eventually run dry of ink... where would that leave you? The old technology was just simplified a bit to include a writing tool and the media in which became visible on paper. This was all included in one neat package for consumers to purchase. Everyone needed to have a supply of pens available just in case theirs ran out of ink.

Along came the calculator. Now this made people really upset. You mean to tell me that all you have to do is hit a button and find the answers to difficult math problems? Once again people found something wrong with this technology. If people relied on calculators to figure these problems out, what would happen if they needed an answer and there was no calculator?

Now comes the old saying... History repeats itself. This couldn't be more true. Along comes the computer. The computer is not only used for finding information, but also for publishing in the 21st Century. Now this enraged people. You mean that you can hit a few buttons and find every important historical event that happened on August 12? You mean that you can also publish writing for the world to see in a few minutes? You mean with the same tool, you can pay your bills, find a hotel, shop for Christmas, complete a research project, publish your knowledge, find directions to anywhere, visit any location in the world, and talk to anyone via streaming video? What would happen if we didn't have access to a computer?

I began thinking of this a few days ago. I had a few conversations with different people about a broad range of subjects.

Example A:
A friends cousin just returned from West Virginia University, where he switched majors from Engineering to Business. I asked him why he switched majors and he replied "Engineering was just too hard". This sparked a conversation about the content he was learning to become an engineer. It was a long conversation, but the short version is... the 4 years is spent learning the hard way to do calculations to ridiculous math problems. His question was, "Why would I want to spend 4 years learning how to do calculations that would take me a few minutes to do once I become an engineer. They spend the 4 years deriving equations and completing formulas without the use of the computer or even calculators.

Example B:
A conversation the other night with a few teachers led to a discusion about Wikipedia. One teacher said, "All of my students call themselves DOING RESEARCH, when they get all of their information from Wikipedia and other websites". I said "What do you call it"? She continued with explaining to me how the kids are lazy and doing research today is just too easy.

It seems that there has always been a deep routed issue with society embracing a new technology. The same people that were upset with the invention of an ink pen are now upset with the invention of the computer. These new technologies make doing certain tasks easier. So what happens if you don't have these technolgies? I don't think that is a valid question. We have these technologies, and they are here to stay. Whether I am at work or at home, I have a computer with an internet connection. That means I have a calculator and a pen that doesn't even use ink. Changes in technology will always occur. We need to embrace these technologies and not be afraid to rely on the power that they have.

Friday, May 9, 2008

It's been a while

Since I have written here. The school year is closing down and I have been working 40 hours a week with another job, trying to pay off some debt and get my MED in Instructional Technology. Been very busy. I have been reading occasionally, but mainly working, eating, and sleeping. Been so busy, I didn't even attend the MICCA Conference in Baltimore. I usually go each year for the 2 day conference. Oh well, I'll catch it next year.

I've already approached Administration with my plans for next year. My hopes to spend part of my day with a school wide Wiki Project seems to be coming true. Right now, I am using the Wiki for informational purposes, but plan to get students involved next year. I am preparing our returning students for what they will be involved with next year. Most are very excited.

I will hopefully be writing more in the weeks to come. Until next blog...