On Fridays I like to share a topic or resource from the forum that highlights a particular need or thought that I want to share with a wider audience. Often times I’ll pull from other forums and websites, to showcase brilliant thinkers that make my musings seem like the juvenile ramblings of a kindergartener eager to please his parents. However, this morning, I found my inspiration from the most unlikely of places, Woot.com. Several of the teachers in my building are addicted to the website, and today’s listing for a USB HD Tuner antenna for your computer included a quip about how the antenna’s ability to pull TV out of the air and turn your computer into a DVR seems an awful lot like those old AT&T advertisements from 1993 that predicted the future with the tagline “You Will”. The commercials were voiced over by every one’s favorite private detective, Magnum P.I. macho actor Tom Selleck. In the commercials, various scenes of a vaguely familiar future depicted students using the library to view books from around the world, patients carrying medical information with them on a credit-card type device, and business executives carrying on teleconferences from the beach using their laptops.
I found the ads on YouTube, and had to share them, because it got me thinking about a really awesome video project for an end of the year activity.
After swimming through the flood of memories about Freshmen year of high school that these ads brought back, I immediately started recognizing which of the “You Will” predictions have come true. Sending faxes wirelessly from a laptop on a beach? Totally possible. Video conferencing from anywhere in the world? Thank you, Skype! Viewing books from around the world? Hello, Google Books! Some of the other prognostications seem almost steam-punk scifi, particularly the video camera in a phone booth (when’s the last time you even saw a phone booth?!). But when I was done watching the ads, I got to thinking.
How great would it be to have students produce their own videos about the future of technological innovation, post them to YouTube, SchoolTube, or one of the other various video sharing sites, and then revisit them every few years! Or better yet, have your students create the videos or slide shows in elementary, and then save them in a digital portfolio to watch again when the graduate. A prediction of the way they will use technology when they leave high school would make a great video time capsule. If you don’t have the video skills, you could just have the students draw pictures or write about what they think technology will look like in the future (two projects that I’ve done with students in the past).
Or perhaps it simple works best as a reflective piece; look where we’ve been, what we thought would come to pass, and where we’re headed in the future. Are we preparing our students to enter a world in which they understand the importance of being able to search through a variety of international books online (do I even understand the importance)? Are we helping our students to better understand how the more we become connected with our devices, the more we lose the anonymity the web once gave many of us, forcing us to behave online just as we would in real life? Whatever the case may be, I can’t wait to see where technology takes us in another 15 years!