By Paul Gorski
This article is not what I intended. I set out to write a review. I had to adapt. Now, the topic is: teaching our children to adapt to and evaluate new technology. Yes, some kids catch on to new technology quickly, but what are they learning?
I planned to write a review of the Motorola Moto X smartphone, which is now available at U.S. Cellular (http://www.uscellular.com) for only a penny for new customers. The Moto X runs Android 4.4 “KitKat,” the newest Android smartphone operating system (OS). I was offered a loaner phone to do a review. However, I had to pass on that offer because of time constraints. I am a bit sad. The Moto X is getting pretty good reviews, and buying one for a penny is a great deal. In addition, Android 4.4 is getting high marks for user interface upgrades and for better memory management — memory management that should allow it to run on some older smartphones.
I asked myself, though, “Am I missing out on revolutionary or evolutionary product upgrades here?” My answer: evolutionary. Evolutionary is not bad, but the updates in the hardware and software, even as described by their manufacturers, did not appear to rise to a “yee hah!” exclamation level. About the same time I was re-considering my smartphone review, I read a few articles about the importance of technology in the classroom. The two thoughts merged.
How often are minor software and hardware upgrades marketed as “must haves” and how often are our children the targets of those marketing campaigns? Yes, it is important to put technology in the classroom. Computers, smartphones and the like can be great tools, but sometimes the product improvements are only marketing ploys. Let’s teach our children how to identify real improvements in technology, not just how to use that technology.
Teach our kids how to explore and research, how to write and create, and how to crunch some numbers in a spreadsheet, but also how to evaluate one technology tool over another. Tablet, laptop or desktop. What are advantages and disadvantages of one piece of hardware over another? Microsoft Office versus Google Docs. Other than cost, why choose one over the other?
As we teach our children to evaluate and truly adapt to new technology, we might very well be preparing them for careers in technology development and project management. Cool.
Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple Iie.
Posted May 21, 2014