After a quick work out at the gym this morning, I was getting ready for work in the change room. I couldn’t help but over hear a conversation between two ladies (I wasn’t eavesdropping honest) about cell phones and the social networking sites that teens and 20 something year olds are constantly using. It was rather interesting to hear their thoughts about the technology of the 21st C. The ladies, who were probably in their early thirties, did not seem to have very positive opinions about text messaging and Facebook and the language that people use while using these tools. The ladies both felt that it is annoying when people are constantly sending text messages or talking on their cell phones in public places. Even though they both agreed that their lives would not be the same without the internet (pay bills, check the weather, etc), they would love it if chat rooms, Facebook, and MySpace were taken off the internet. I also over heard them talking about how all the new technology is making their kids develop poor social and people skills, as well as teaching them to use improper language through abbreviations and slang. Their kids would rather send an email or text to their friends instead of calling them and asking. Then they went on to talk about how they refuse to use cell phones and social networking sites because they can get along just fine without them.
I found this conversation very interesting, as I myself are one of those 2o something year olds who use my cell phone and soical networking sites on an regular (maybe even hourly?) basis. I am easy to get a hold of on my cell phone, have had the opportunity to connect with a lot of old friends via Facebook, and have met some very inspiring teachers through my PLN on Twitter. I have not lost my social and people skills, for I still communicate with others face to face on a daily basis. I may use abbreviations and slang on my cell or when sending an IM (and Twitter only allows you to use 140 characters so you have to be short), but do not use that language when I talk. I still laugh out loud; I do not say L O L.
I couldn’t help but make the connection between these ladies and a lot of teachers who have been teaching for a long time. Both are hesitant to try the technology because they ‘get along fine without it’ and feel that there is nothing wrong with their way of life. Yes you probably could get along fine with technology, and no there is nothing wrong with your way of life. But I see technology as a neatly wrapped gift, addressed to you, sitting on your desk waiting for you to open it. You will never know what’s inside until you open it, until you try to understand what it is. I don’t see how teachers can not be tempted…
These ladies are not alone with their thoughts about questioning the idea of loosing personal connections due to technology. Even thought I believe that we will never loose our personal connections and ability to have conversations face to face with people, I think it this something that everyone wonders. But I think the real question here is: are ready to embrace the technology anyways to keep up with society?
Be open-minded – Be Creative – Be Teachable! Stay up to date. Adapt to the needs of your learners. Your learners learn in new ways, ways that are different from when you were learning in grade school. Open the doors to the 21st C. Open the doors of communication with your students!