March 4, 2010

Google in the bar

A few weeks ago I went to the local watering hole with some teammates after one of our hockey games. We got into an argument over who was the NHL's all time winningest coach. I remembered that Extra gum aired a commercial last year that featured Pat Quinn chewing gum on the bench. A fact popped up on screen that had the words "winningest coach" and then "must be the gum". After a few minutes of discussion about this very topic, I googled it. It turns out Pat Quinn was not the winningest coach, but he is the most winningest coach that is still active. Our argument was settled and the conversation quickly turned to how readily available information is and how different this is from not that long ago.

I have used my smartphone many a time in situations just as this. And while it is true that the smartphone is sometimes a damper on man's favorite pastime - arguing about sports (funny how the truth sometimes kills the argument) is even more fun to be able to access the truth with the touch of a button or two. Go to any bar...or even any public place - you will most likely find people doing just this: accessing information and connecting with people via a tiny piece of technology.

Now go to a classroom. Will you find the same thing? And if not, why not? Perhaps our schools need to look more like bars (kidding, well... sort of). Perhaps we need to actually realize that teachers no longer need to, or should be, the center of the classroom universe...instead of just saying that we need to realize it. We no longer teach...we guide, we assist, and we inspire. Instead of banning handheld devices and blocking IP addresses from accessing our wireless networks maybe we should embrace the technology and capitalize on its educational value. I believe we are starting to understand this (yay us!), but I also believe that this understanding is long overdue (boo us!).

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