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According to my latest wireless plan billing, my 14 year old used 1 GB of cell data and 33 GB of wireless data.  As I teach a course that has a learning outcome involving how technology impacts society, these values made me give pause and reflect.  Could this 33GB be one or two full length ultra HD movies?  Knowing my son, he is more interested in sports, humor clips, Instagram (or at least he was last week), sending photos to his pals, etc. and not viewing digitally remastered high definition versions of Casablanca.


So while you may have heard this song before, let me play it again and have us look at the amount of content needed to consume this amount of data.   Let's break it down and look at 1 GB and then you the reader can extrapolate for 33 GB (if interested).  So, what is 1 GB of data? It is either...

  • 3,000 web pages
  • 1,500,000 WhatsApp messages
  • 4,000 photo uploads
  • 10,000 emails
  • 310 minutes of YouTube
  • 160 songs (assuming these are 6 MB .mp3 files)


In reality, it is a combination of the above with probably 1/2 to 3/4 being downloaded multimedia.  I make this conclusion based on the fact that streaming audio and video accounts for 71% of downstream traffic, at least in North America. 


As phones give access to information and content wherever a cellular or wireless signal can be received, the reality is our students have and will continue to use mobile devices.  We can debate how such constant use negatively impacts attention spans and such, however the fact is our minds feed off (are addicted to) the usage of these devices (look up elevated dopamine levels during cell phone usage) and so the reality is we will continue to see people gather in groups with all of them looking at their phones instead of talking to each other. On the up side, recent studies have shown that drug usage is down among teens.  We may conclude that phone usage is the 'culprit'.



Unfortunately, some ineffective and under prepared teachers use student technology as a means to fill time voids by having students play games, etc.. My son tells me a few teachers in his middle school take this approach on a daily basis.  So instead of engaging students with content, they are sent off for a dopamine fix to interact with peers via social media.  Oh me, oh my!  Has it really come to this?


Thinking sunny side up, innovative instructors are successfully leveraging technology to support instruction.  Key in my mind for this to be successful is the need to overcome the prevalent conditioning that is occurring where persons are geared to be mere consumers of content. We all want to see more capabilities for students to be able to create and interact with content.  Be it a course link to free sites such as Khan Academy or paid publisher content, the mechanism to access the materials must be front and center.  And they must provide opportunity to experiment, learn from mistakes, and more. And better yet, introduce gaming or competition to promote effort and initiative.  Just how can we combine the common behavior (students wanting to use cell phones for social media while in school) with a learning platform that enables these students to engage each other with the content.  


Just random musings, maybe more...  thanks of reading. 



ps.  I also wish there was a hip app that let's you know when you had enough screen time.  I know a few people that would benefit.  Do you?  


phone prison

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