Humans are consummate communicators. It is in our DNA. There are remarkable prehistoric cave paintings all around the world, examples of primitive people's desire to communicate not only with people around them, but with people through time and space. Many cave paintings contain hand-prints, signatures; perhaps we could call these the selfies of ancient time. Prehistoric people desired to connect with each other, to share and store knowledge or consciousness of beauty. We are not different. What is different for us is a rapid explosion of communication possibilities that is making our collective heads spin. It is important to incorporate mindfulness into the mix.
From my visit to the world of my students, I learned that cell phones do much more than spell the end of life as we know it. They keep time, find the bus, are the map, the game, the store, the music player, the musical instrument, the alarm clock, the calendar, the typewriter, the organizer, the research tool, the television, the movie theater, the stage, the concert, the local gathering on the green, the camera, the phone, the phone book, the memo book, the notebook, the photo album, the portfolio, the calculator, the newspaper, the books, the magazines. They record and edit music and video. They talk to you and answer your questions. They recommend the restaurant and the babysitter and make the reservations, provide the menus, get the cab, and remind you to go to the dentist. They are the radio, the boarding pass, the store coupon, the check book and the bank account, the birthday card and the wedding invitation. They are the also the instant couriers, the way to call for help in an emergency, the way to find your way when you are lost. They are elves and angels, no longer myth. Indeed Apple has already developed a truly impressive source of educational applications, most recently one to allow teachers to create assignments and chat rooms for interaction with students, who will very shortly no doubt be bringing iPads or other smart devices to the classroom instead of notebooks or paper books. Mobile technology will arrive in your classroom shortly, if it hasn't already.
As my students participated in a free-write to gather their thoughts on this subject, they also noted that technology unites them around the world and keeps them in contact with family members in other countries and family members serving in the armed forces. It connects them to other students. It creates a global village and democratization of knowledge. It allows for instant sharing and dissemination of new research, new ideas, and new developments. It can lead to revolutions and give people everywhere, even those who live under governments that repress information, access to the world.
Isn't it time for us to bring them into the classroom? Wait. They're already here.