Friday, February 13, 2009

More implications of technology

The other night I received a text message from an alumni attending one of the state colleges asking me to sign on to my Yahoo Messenger because he needed help with an essay; I let him know that I would do so after dinner. Shortly after I'd finished eating, I signed on and sent him a text telling him that I had gotten online. He joined me a few minutes later, and we began to work on his essay. He would send it to me over Yahoo Messenger, I'd look it over, make my comments, then send it back. We continued like this for some time until I'd gone from my intial 60+ comments and suggestions down to two.

There are a number of ways we could have done this same thing, including Google Docs and so forth, but more importantly was what this represented. Z is about an hour's drive away, so not too long ago, he would have been pretty much on his own when it came to his essay, or at least his access to me would have been all but cut off, especially since I'm a visual learner and need to see it in front of me in order to work on it; additionally, unless he were to read the punctuation marks to me, I'd have no way to assess that unless I saw it.

This only reinforces the importance that the internet and technology in general has gained to both educators and students. An exchange of text messages, then the sending back and forth of an essay with comments added and subtracted from it, and a student is able to access a resource and get help with an essay.

While this may seem like no big deal, at the same time, these changes have occurred within the span of half of my teaching career, which is pretty remarkable, really. It wasn't a problem to help him, though I kept "geeking out" over the ability to work with him as if he was next to me in spite of being an hour away. It brings me back to an observation made by a student in my epistemology class that it wouldn't be long before he might not have to show up to class at all... that it would all eventually be online. And while this is certainly a possibility, at the same time, I hope that it doesn't come to pass; there is too much to be gained from human interaction and too much to be lost by the lack of it.

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