Yesterday was the first "big" snowstorm in the Northern Virginia area since about 2 to 3 years ago. As a snow lover, to say I was excited about the anticipation of a big snow was an understatement. Schools were closed; even the Federal Government had shut down for the day. Sadly, we didn't get nearly as much snow as I was hoping, but it was beautiful and it became a short day of work for my husband, which is always a treat.
To allay your fears, this entry is really not about the weather, although without the promised snowstorm this entry could not be written. What this entry is about is the absolute and unequivocal thrill that comes with all of the instant technology that is at our fingertips today. I'm sure there those out there who still don't understand why instant technology is so important, and why it has become a seamless part of today's youth, but yesterday was a prime example of how instant technology has woven itself directly into the fiber of our lives.
As you may have noticed the title of my blog entry is the thrill of instant technology, or the hunt for Jim Cantore. For those of you who may not be weather channel buffs, you many not know that Jim Cantore is "the guy" to watch when bad weather comes to town. If there is a hurricane approaching any coastline, Jim Cantore is there. If there is severe weather in the plains states, Jim Cantore is there. Well, yesterday, Jim Cantore was here, in anticipation of the DC snowstorm that really wasn't. It's probably odd to think, since he isn't a rock star, or movie star, but Jim Cantore does have a fan base and, although I cannot or will not mention names, many women in my family are huge "fans". When my husband's work day was cut short, and he found out that Mr. Cantore was in DC, he decided to do what any good husband (who also happens to be a professional photographer) would do. He decided to take a trip into DC to hunt for the elusive weatherman. It took some doing, with a little help from me sitting at home watching live weather reports and talking to each other on our cell phones, my husband eventually found the "treasure" he was looking for.
Shortly after locating Mr. Cantore, I received a final phone call. I immediately flipped the station back over to the Weather Channel, just in time to see my husband standing several feet behind Mr. Cantore. My husbands back was to camera, and he was looking at the street (so as not to appear too conspicuous), all the while he was talking with me on the phone. So what was the next thing I did? Grabbed the remote and hit the record button on the DVR, so I could memorialize my husbands television appearance. Granted, I did it primarily as a joke, and to show our 20 year old. After all, who would really believe he hunted down and found Jim Cantore?
Enter, instant technology. As soon as my 20 year old saw her father on TV, standing behind Jim Cantore, she immediately posted, from her smartphone, about her father's whereabouts to all of her friends on Facebook. By the time her father had gotten home, there were several comments posted (most of which were non-believing). So what did I do? I grabbed my smartphone, turned on the DVR, cued up the video (as proof), recorded it with my smartphone and then uploaded it to YouTube. Then I grabbed my laptop, went onto Facebook and commented on my daughters post, providing the necessary proof that he had, in fact, scoped out and found Jim Cantore.
My husband then grabbed his iPad, hopped on his Facebook account and shared the video with people he was friends with, that I wasn't. Then he grabbed his laptop, downloaded the pictures from his camera, did some editing and uploaded them to Facebook. In a span of, about an hour, because of instant technology, his day's "hard work" had been seen by at least a couple thousand people; more if any of our family and friends shared his video and/or pictures.
And? You might be wondering. What does this really have to do with anything, other than bragging about the fact that my husband was able to track down and take pictures of Jim Cantore? The "And" in all this is, it's not just our students who have learned to move "at the speed of light". Kind of like Jim Cantore, instant technology is everywhere and if we aren't embracing it, as educators, then shame on us. If we aren't allowing our students to use it in classrooms or teaching our students how to use it properly and effectively then we are failing them and we are failing ourselves.
Think back about 15 years and consider this same encounter. Yes, we would have known that Jim Cantore was in town, but what would have been the odds my husband would have found him as quickly as he did? Without having cellphones, he could have wandered the streets of DC for hours. If, by some miracle, he did find Mr. Cantore he could have snapped his photos but then he would have had to develop them and then share them as hard copies via regular snail mail. What we were able to do in the span of an hour would have taken a couple weeks. Sure, those unmentionable fans I spoke of earlier would still have been happy to get their pictures, but they would have had to have waited and then the only way they could have shared them would have been to carry them around in their purses and pull them out to show to others. They also wouldn't have been able to "see him" on the streets of DC unless they had been watching the broadcast at that very moment in time. Because of instant technology, they didn't have to wait, they received their pictures almost immediately, and they were able to share my husbands experience almost right along with him.
So when you are thinking about lesson plans and ways to use technology in your classroom, keep the above example in mind. Today's students are naturally adept at using instant technology. As educators, it is up to us to make sure we keep abreast of the changes in technology so we can be more that just adequate in our classrooms. We need to find ways to stay ahead of our students in order to challenge them, to make learning fun and to maintain and hold their interests. We need to be their "Jim Cantore", so they spend time seeking us out. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather be the teacher whose students think I'm a rock star than a has been.