I’ll have more later on teaching with the iPad, but if anybody needed further proof that we live in a different world these days, the reaction of my youngest students to my latest gizmo should convince you. The first reaction my littlest students (3-4 year-olds) had was ‘oh, a phone!’
Beyond its superficial resemblance to an iPhone, it was, I think, the touchscreen that fooled them. Blackberry, iPod, it’s all the same—a touchable screen you carry around with you that has all the things you need to look at on it.
It occurred to me that all of their young-ish parents are iPhone and Blackberry addicts who either have forgone the landline at this point, or who use it sparingly. These kids have probably never seen a ‘regular’ phone! Realities I grew up with such as only being able to use the phone in certain rooms of the house because it was ATTACHED TO THE WALL are completely foreign to them.
In the world my students are growing up in, I don’t think anything will need to be plugged in. There will be screens, be they phone or tablet sized, and anything you need—music, movies, books—will be a wireless download away. Already, I can load my music and books into the Dropbox folder on my home computer and download from it at work via the website or onto the iPad or iPhone via wifi from anywhere I can get a signal. As cloud storage becomes cheaper, media streaming and/or renting becomes more popular and everywhere-wifi more common, I think this will only become easier.
It blew my mind a little, the notion that these little guys have probably never in their lives seen a phone that was attached to the wall before. And if you had told three-year-old me that one day you could not only carry the phone around with you all the time, but that it could also be used to play an album, rent a movie or access the entire catalogue of the public library, I would have thought you were crazy. It really is a different world now!
It’s amazing how fast technology becomes obsolete, disappears from view, and is then pulled out of closets only when one is feeling nostalgic.
Don’t forget typewriters, turntables, LPs, 8-tracks, cassettes, VCRs and VHS tapes, printed encyclopedias, floppy disks, even CDs.
There is also a lot of ancillary stuff which is disappearing or has already left us — Wite-Out, Rolodexes, phone booths (at least in the US), long distance charges — “You mean you used to pay extra to call Grandma in New York? It’s only a phone call. And don’t we just use Skype to talk to Nana in Australia?”