My girls will head off to college in 2015 and 2017. They are in the 10th and 8th grade of our our local public high school and middle school. We are already getting glossy university brochures in the mail (I guess from my older daughter's PSAT scores).
The point is that these kids, my kids, will be showing up soon at your institution of higher learning.
So I pay attention to how these girls operate at the place where education and technology intersect.
This morning I'm informed the girls that computers are not an option for our upcoming February vacation. Where we are going there is no safe place to store a laptop (or iPad), and no affordable Internet connection.
This was troubling news to my 10th and 8th grader.
They raised the following objections:
- "We have homework over vacation".
- "We have project due soon after we return".
- "Our projects involve other group members".
- "If we don't get our work done over vacation we will be swamped when we return".
- "All of our work is on the computer".
- "All of our work is on the Internet".
- "Printing stuff out won't work".
- "All of our work requires online collaboration via Google Docs, Prezi, Edmodo, and StudyBlue."
- "We use the online textbooks with videos".
- "We use Khan Academy and YouTube videos".
- "We need our computers and a Web connection for school - this is not about our friends or anything social".
In short, both girls argued quite forcefully that they need to do school work over vacation, and that they need their laptops and an Internet connection to do so.
I told these girls that neither I, nor their mother, plans to work over vacation.
That we never work over vacation. That vacation means not working. That their parents are looking forward to not having access to computers, iPads, smart phones or the Internet.
This information seemed to have very little impact on these girls.
Are we creating a K-20 education system that is completely dependent on technology?
Are we creating learners that need technology to learn?
Are we creating the next wave of workaholics? People addicted to constant technology and web access?
Do we need to offer college classes on how to go on vacation?
In the end the geography of our February vacation will determine the behavior of this high school and this middle school student.
They will be forced to live without their laptops and without their Web 2.0 learning tools for the week.
They will have to manage their teachers expectations and group members expectations, plan ahead, and scramble to finish all their work.
I can't think of a more important educational experience.
Do your kids bring their technology with them on vacations to keep up with their schoolwork?
Have you experimented with a "no technology" vacation?