I've spent a little bit of time on my first day of our April holiday break getting a bit further into the most referenced book in the edublogosphere over the past year, Thomas Friedman's "The World Is Flat." At times, I've felt like I'm the only educator participating in these online conversations who hadn't read the book. I actually purchased the book a couple of months back but a combination of work commitments and being constantly lured back to my Bloglines account has eaten into my sparse free time. Currently still reading through the section on the world's 10 most important flatteners and it occurred to me that actually reading this book was made possible by these flatteners. I found out about the book via reading blogs, ordered the book (plus a few others recommended by my network) from Amazon's website because of better prices than I could get at any Aussie suppliers and paid in US dollars via my credit card. It was tracked and shipped using the technologies described by Friedman as "insourcing" and since then I've received an e-mail from Amazon suggesting further book purchases in line with my choices.
While I've been reading and the kids watched a Disney DVD, my wife has been listening to a few of her favourite CD's on our portable CD player which was "state of the art" back in 2003 because it could play CD-R and CD-RW in the mp3 format. We know how quickly personal music players have evolved since then but I can remember being really excited about putting on 100-200 songs on a CD and not having to carry extra discs with me. I think that as "digital immigrants" (as coined by Marc Prensky) we tend to get excited about new technologies and the amazing things they can do and forget that the "wow" factor we feel might not translate to the generation of kids we have in our classrooms. They have always experienced constant fast paced change and what we see as almost miraculous is pretty ho-hum for them. Having 2000 songs in their pocket in a device the size of a cigarette lighter is no big deal. And if I try to think back to my childhood, I cannot remember ever being in awe of colour television, stereo ghetto blasters and the first wave of VHS and Beta. This is pretty important to remember in our classrooms as the technology itself isn't enough - it's what's done with it that will make the difference. It might be big news to educators that the world is flat (and not all educators realise it yet!) but it is just the way things are for the students of today.