E-Mail Time Capsules

Dec 20, 2005 by

If I could send an e-mail to myself three years in the future it might contain, among other things, a strong recommendation to get off my butt, questions and comments about my parenting style as my child prepares for pre-school, or a reflection of what my experiences as an educator has been up till now.

Perhaps you might send similar thoughts, but regardless of your message, reflective writing and future messaging are exercises and activities that many educators assign to their students. One of my high school English teachers made us write letters to ourselves 4 years in the future, to encourage us to direct our ambitions and reflect upon our achievements since her class. While I enjoy the practice of reflective writing, especially when it’s sent in a “time capsule” like way, some new sites on the Internet are making the process much more relevant to our students, the digital natives. They seem to be gaining popularity as I’ve now read about them on CNN.com and the Wired News sites.

FutureMe.org is a simple site that allows users to send e-mails to themselves at any point in the future (at least until 2035), with no subscription to apply for or registering required. What good use can come of this? I’m already planning on having my 6th graders write e-mails to themselves at the beginning of next year; what their expectations for 6th grade will be, what they want to achieve during the year, and what the think are their strengths in the classroom. I’ll have them send the e-mail to somewhere during the last week of school so they can reflect on how they’ve progressed, what goals they didn’t meet, and if their strengths have changed. I guess you could call it a reflective journal entry of sorts, but more engrossing as they’ve provided the topic for it themselves, rather than rely on me. It could also be useful for secondary teachers that want to help their students take the study habits and skills they’ve learned in high school onto college. Imagine how affected a college freshmen would be sitting down after a frustrating midterm only to receive an e-mail of encouragement and optimism from themselves, pointing out past achievements academically.

What message would you put in your “e-mail time capsule?”

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3 Comments

  1. The maker of FutureMe is a friend of mine. Matt and I ran the tech department together at Gateway High School (http://www.gwhs.org) four years ago. He taught math and computer science in schools for a few years before starting a degree program in nonprofit management. As you can tell from his site, Matt is a clever guy with a good understanding of the utility of simple tools!

  2. Ben

    Indeed a good use of simple tool it is. This is exactly the kind of service that educators needs; quick, simple, easy to understand tools with a wide range of applications. I find that far too many pieces of software today rely on propietary, cumbersome, and complicated technology.

    Glad to know that a former educator is behind the FutureMe site.

  3. James

    Hi Ben,

    Thought I’d point out Time Netsule (www.timenetsule.com) since you share my interest in time capsules!

    J

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