Students and their technology
When I was a student I took notes on loose leaf binder paper with a blue ballpoint pen. I wrote so much for so many years and held the pen so tightly that for many years I had a tell-tale callous on my right middle finger. We didn’t use computers back then. Desk top computers were not invented until I began university and even then it was only engineering students who used them. I don’t know what they used them for. I studied typing on a manual typewriter in high school and I used an electronic typewriter throughout university. That typewriter was the greatest, most useful and valuable Christmas present I ever received.
There was no Internet or Facebook, no blogs or web pages, no cell phones or smart phones, no GPS or satellite maps, no instant messaging or digital photography. Photocopy machines used a special acetate paper rather than simple bond paper and ditto machines using blue alcohol based ink were still common.
On Wednesday, June 10, 2015 I saw something interesting at a public high school. The walls of the classrooms are glass panels opening onto the corridor, so I could clearly see into every classroom as I walked down the hall. On this particular day I had just finished a class and was walking back to the elevator to return downstairs to the teachers’ room when I noticed a girl in a classroom that had just finished a science lesson. I watched her take a picture of the blackboard with her smart phone. She wasn’t taking a selfie. Instead of taking notes in a notebook or on loose leaf binder paper today’s students are just taking photographs of the teacher’s notes on the board and then studying from those. Maybe Canadian students do the same? It seems kind of lazy to me, but maybe it’s ingenious. Maybe it’s an inevitable feature of technology in students’ hands.
I was introduced to Japanese students’ method of using their smart phones at school when we were studying a lesson on School Subjects and I began asking them about their schedules. I was surprised to learn how many do not know their schedule. Only a few know for certain what they have the next class after mine. At the start of the school year in April each is provided with a paper schedule. They quickly take a picture of it and store it in their phones to consult regularly and then they throw the paper copy in the trash.
Except for the fact that cell phones and smart phones are not allowed at school in the first place I’m not criticizing it. I was only surprised by the sight of the girl taking a photo of the blackboard. Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe while sitting in the train during her daily commute having a photograph of the teacher’s notes in her phone makes it easier for her to study or revise while commuting. Whatever works.