Monday, August 27, 2007

Technology Education

My kids in the car yesterday reminded me how different their childhood world is than mine was. The eight year old was looking at a catalog and asked me to buy some gadget so he could "text message" his friends. Text message his friends? I only figured out what that was about in the last year.

And then my 13 year old handed me her cell phone saying that there was something wrong: she was hearing a sound that she had never heard before. I listened and laughed. It was a busy signal. Something that she with her digital world with voice mail et al had never heard before.

All of this reminds me how different the kids skills are these days. And how different the tools that they use are. They seem to be doing very well with the practical aspects of mastering the computers and the net and their cell phones and ipods, but what about understanding how some of this stuff works?

I think that its a bad thing for anyone to thing that the technology around them is black magic, not understood and not understandable. No, I'm not saying that everyone should learn to code. I am saying that everyone should be able to explain why the light goes on when you touch a switch, what's the difference between a circuit switched classic telephone line and the VOIP technology used by digital networks, and the relationships between magnets and electricity.

As technology becomes more embedded in our world, I think our understanding of the technology, at the conceptual level, should also deepen. I'm now looking at the technology curriculum standards to see if they are addressing these issues only as users or with some feel for the need to appreciate the tools around them.

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