As I write this blog in my living room, I am multi-tasking with Twitter, chatting with friends and other educators not just in Australia, but around the world. The instant I hit ‘publish’ this post is available globally. There are no gate keepers and there’s no wait time.
How different it is to when I was living in Japan in the pre-internet early 90s. Back then I would wait two weeks for a letter to arrive from home, and if I wrote back immediately, it would take another two weeks for my friends or family to receive my reply. It took at least a month to receive answers to letters and I would wait for them desperately, hoping that friends and family would reply quickly so that I could feel connected with my home.
C21 instant connectivity brings so many good things. I wouldn’t want to turn back the clock. But I do wonder sometimes if we’ve lost some things in the process.
We don’t write letters any more.
I still have a box full of letters I received back when I lived away from home. My friends and family would update me with all their news, no matter how mundane. They’d include the occasional photograph and I love them still because they capture a moment in time.
Some people say email has taken the place of letter writing, but I disagree. I think Facebook has. It’s where people share their news and post their photographs. However its a lot less personal than receiving a letter written just for you, in its own envelope, perhaps with a photograph enclosed. When we’d receive a letter, it was like a special gift, we’d never know what would be inside.
Relationships have become a little shallower
In some ways our relationships have become shallower. I remember years ago friends would send cards or pick up the phone for birthdays. Now, posting ‘happy birthday’ on someone’s Facebook wall is the more common practice. This is easy, but it’s far less personal. A little bit of effort goes a long way.
Privacy does not exist
Anyone, even a stranger, can publish photographs of us. Facebook allows us to untag images, but as far as I can tell, we can’t take them down. And of course, if you’re unlucky enough to get caught on video when you fall down a sink hole, you can become the next viral video.
Yet for all that, I’m happy to be living in a connected world. I’ve found that I thrive in this environment. It brings many challenges for educators, however and that is what our latest podcast is about.
In it, I interview Dr Alec Couros about how global connectivity is changing they way we learn, and the way we teach. I also speak to Dan Haesler about his concerns with BYOD in public school systems. He wrote an interesting opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald about this issue.