Several years ago, 2005 I believe, I took a trip to India to visit my dad who was there on business. With the world’s second largest population coming in well over a million people, it put the chaos of NYC streets to shame. During my visit, my father and I went to see the Taj Mahal up in Agra, which was a quick commuter flight away. The plane was filled with suits and other business types traveling for work- much like what fills a Southwest Airlines flight during the weekday. In American aviation we know there are strict rules regarding the use of electronic devices before take-off and around landing time. The case was no different on Jet Airways. However, what happened as soon as the wheels hit the runway at our destination was something that I had not ever seen before. I began hearing the sounds of phones, palm pilots, and who knows what else turning on. I heard “Hello Motto” and those weird spacey chimes Sprint uses. As I looked around, the plane was full of nearly everyone turning his or her devices on, essentially at the exact same time. I found the situation to be rather humorous because I felt a sense of urgency in everyone needing to be connected to his or her devices, asap. That kind of urgency on an airplane is only witnessed when oxygen masks fall from the ceiling!

Fast forward a bunch of years to present day where this scene has become routine and common in the lives of most around the world, especially with Americans. Communication scholar Marshall McLuhan referred to this kind of media as an, “extension of man.” Just like an arm or a leg, our usage of media devices have become a part of our lives, and they are necessary to create virtual communities and the like.

In our school systems, middle and high school teachers are becoming increasingly more aware of the growing trend in technology and its presence in every child’s backpack. With rules restricting their usage during school hours, is it just a matter of time before they become integrated into coursework? When Howard Rheingold was in Tokyo, he spoke with Kenny Hirschhorn a chief strategist for a telecomm company called Orange. He told Rheingold to think of the mobile telephone as, “evolving into a ‘remote control for your life’,” (pg. 11).  He, Hirschhorn, then retrieved a soda from a company machine using his phone.

The question I’m asking here is could this kind of technology be integrated into schools, and if so would it fly with teachers? At present, most in school see a phone or iPad as a distraction during school hours. Some schools with an Internet connection block access to social media sites to prevent students from getting “distracted.” But what if select classes encouraged their usage? A class that teaches young scholars how to work with blogs and stay connected with worldly happenings on Twitter. Ask a young student who the Vice President currently is and I bet you get some puzzled looks. If technological devices are becoming increasingly more common, then we might as well teach Millennial’s how to appropriately use it and toward a good purpose.

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