How Mobile Technology Impacts Education

Happy Taco Tuesday from Reno!

I had an interesting discussion in the past few days of how much has changed in the world of technology, even since I first came to Reno in 2005.  It was prompted when I walked into a local burger joint with a tablet in tow. The person I was meeting with had never seen a tablet before, and it was a neat opportunity to show them how it works and introduce them to a new technology that is becoming popular at a very fast rate.

My job allows me insight into a very unique area of IT, and that is within the education realm. Not many professionals can say that they get to directly impact the lives of students with technology. It’s almost too much fun being able to say “let’s try this out” or “maybe this technology would work better in instructing students.” It is quite an experience to be able to have a real impact on how someone learns, especially when that technology is something that is new and cool.

Here are the three technologies that I see having the greatest impact in the coming years:

  1. Tablets – Everyone’s favorite new tech toy, dominated by the iPad at the moment, this mobile device will slowly begin to replace laptops as the dominant portable tech machine. While I prefer the keyboard associated with the desktop/laptop, the incredible portability of a tablet is too good to pass up. Also, an amusing incident has prompted me to track down a company that repairs iPad glass screens. A whole new host of businesses have been created just to support all of the tablets running around! The growth is gearing up to explode, and who knows what new changes will make tablets that much better.
  2. Smart phones – Some of you may remember when you had to pay for text messaging. Ridiculous right?! Think of the drastic change that unlimited text messaging plans has brought to how we communicate. People have no problem rifling off 300-400 texts a day but they seem to be entirely incapable of “picking up the phone” for a real phone call. Soon, 4G will make phones just as fast as accessing the Internet through a normal WiFi connection, making the convenience and accessibility from your phone a dominant feature for getting your Net Fix, haha :-)
  3. Cloud computing – The feeling of “connectedness” from always being able to plug into your virtual world is not going to go away. Pandora, Netflix, Facebook, email, and many other services are being accessed anywhere, and we are becoming more dependent on these technologies and less dependent on our own brain cells to remember, retain, and store information. The music industry is shifting toward the cloud, and who knows what else will follow.

That’s a wrap for today. Many of these technologies seemed super futurisic even in 2005, but they are upon us and will continue to impact our lives.

What technology are you most looking forward to using?

Picture credit 1. Picture credit 2.

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8 Comments

  1. 1. Tablets: A few years down the line, they will probably have everything a person needs and more. In their current form, they still need vast improvements. In fact, I find them kind of useless in their present state. I’d rather have a laptop. One day, however, each student will be provided with a tablet I’m sure. They will become integral in the classroom environment from middle-school on. I would never ever want to have elementary students become so reliant on technology to learn, but, by 7th grade, students should be able to understand that technology is an important part of learning – just not the only way of learning, and the tablet can make learning fun and more accessible.

    2. Don’t really care about the Smartphone. Good for Tweeting and other social media and that’s about it, imo. There aren’t too many people I would bother texting on a regular basis, so I could care less about unlimited texting capabilities. :-)

    3. Cloud computing is helpful, but dangerous if it is relied upon too heavily. The more we get away from the physical, the less we have to use our own brains, the quicker we will devolve as a society. Not to mention the abuse which can result from the technology…

    In all, there has to be a healthy balance between technology and education, between the past and the future. I mean it’s not like a million books have been written on the subject of man verses machine, reliance on technology, and the problems inherent in it. But who listens to those old people who used to write on paper anymore? ;-)

  2. As you know, although I’m “old school” in many ways, I too love technology. So this comment isn’t anti-technology; it’s what we’re allowing technology to do to us.

    I remember when I first starting looking at my wrist watch in the 60s to see the date. (Of course, I still had to be able to tell time by reading the hands on a watch because there weren’t many, if any, digital timing devices back then. I also remember when people would compute the change you had coming from a purchase and would count the change back to you.

    But today technology has changed all that. In part it’s advancement, but in part it’s regression.
    While you are doing your tablet surveys, how about finding out if people can tell time without a digital device and whether they compute change for a $10 bill; then count the change out in your hand. I bet it won’t be 10 years and 50% of the over 30s won’t be able to do either.
    That’s the problem with technology.

    Please note that there’s no ‘K’ in “technology”—it’s specifically not spelled “techknowlegy”: I wonder if that’s because it requires little brainpower to use much of it.

    What’s the future of books and newspapers now that we have Kindle? And now, Borders (I used to shop at the FIRST-EVER Border’s Book Store in Ann Arbor, Michigan) is closing its doors.

    I challenge you and your generation to figure out how to put the “k” back into “technology” so that the future of our youth and country reamins bright. America became great because of great brains and hard work; not complacency of brain or brawn.

    1. Mr. Aaron,

      This is exactly what I am talking about. Nowadays, there is this rush towards technology at all levels of education. I had an eighth grader tell me that they are getting rid of the library in his school so they can expand the computer lab. The logic he gave for the move: “Nobody reads those books anymore.” I do think he was exaggerating in regards to the amount the school planned on decimating the library, but I feel that there was a lot of truth to his statement. And his logic is certainly shared by a lot of youngsters.

      The more we get away from teaching students how to do mental math, how to read an analog clock, how to use a library, and even how to write in cursive… (Yes, they are even trying to get rid of cursive because “kids only use typed text anymore” – despite the fact that our nation’s most important documents and artifacts are all written in it: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-01-23-cursive-handwriting_N.htm) The more we do all of these things, the less intelligent, the less self-reliant we are making our kids.

      As opposed to teaching kids how to DO things on their own, we seem to be heading towards having them learn how to make TECHNOLOGY DO FOR them. It’s great to embrace new technologies and incorporate them into education, but we should never put such an emphasis on them that learning how to use them takes away from learning useful content. Technology should complement the curriculum, not become it.

      There needs to be a balance when it comes to technology and education, and, right now, we don’t seem to have that.

      Jonathan
      https://onmatters.wordpress.com/

      1. It is definitely depressing how books are becoming fossilized tools of the trade. There is such a drastic difference in learning between hard copy books and crappy PDFs and yet people continue to be drawn into the electronic medium of learning. Shall be interesting seeing what happens in a few years…

    2. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to be old school! I still find it shocking that some of my classmates prefer digital over printed reading materials. Blech! No thanks!

      It’s funny you mention getting the date from your watch, because now most people don’t even have a watch! They just use their phone to figure out date/time/etc.

      Finally, I definitely agree that we are teaching people how to make technology do things for them. How do we fix that? I’m not sure… but we do need to find a way to put “K” into technology :-)

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