Image by Carlos Magaña via FlickrReleased just as the semester was ending, The Pew Internet and American Life Project released another interesting report. We cite the work by this great organization frequently in our publications and presentations.
In the recent report they asked "internet leaders, activists and analysts" what advances they saw in technology as they looked into their crystal ball. I had the privilege of responding to this survey as a result of monitoring the listerv of the Association of Internet Researchers.
The report holds some interesting findings for those of us that research internet and communication technologies, and their place in the classroom. One major result which I didn't find that shocking was that they felt that the cell phone would be the major element of connection to the Internet by 2020. If you look at the way cell phones are used, reused and retooled, especially in Africa...you can see the potential for astronomical growth. The work of Nathan Eagle and our relationship with the mobile device gives you a better snapshot into what can be. Lately, it seems like other nations are pushing the boundaries in relation to what a cell phone can be.
I find my own relationship with my cell phone to advance to my tether to the world online. I find my emails faster, IM more securely, and maintain my schedule on my Blackberry (slowly turning my colleagues over to the world of the Blackberry...). The mobile device allows me to do so much, so much more quickly...and anywhere. And the subject of access is null in relation to working with our children. I have had the privilege of working and teaching in inner city schools my whole career. I have been in the haves and have-nots in relation to technology resources. In my most recent work during the TICA grant, I found that most of the students carried their own cell phone. I also noticed that a large contingent of my students had much better cell phones than me.
The latest report unveils a number of interesting findings as far as what the future of the Internet holds for us. I think if we, as educators can continues to think out of the box, we can take advantage of the tools that our students currently hold in their pockets. What we have to change most of all is how we view the place of the mobile device in the classroom. Educate our students and staff as to what is acceptable use of the mobile device in the classroom. I remember one of my colleagues Irene Hopp my days teaching in Springfield, MA. As Intel Master Teachers we frequently spent time trying to figure out how to effectively embed technology into our district's classrooms. She turned to me at a meeting and said that she really wanted to figure out a way to integrate text messaging into her high school English class. She noticed that the students were hiding their phones under their desks and texting. She recognized the power available there. This conversation happened 10 years ago.