An Analog Relic in a Digital World

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I laughed when I found this quote on Pinterest, but unfortunately it’s so true. How much does it ‘age’ me when I tell my kids that I was born before the internet, and that I was 11 when I saw my first computer? My 9 year old paused to take in the reality of the situation when she heard that, and her friend explained to her that her mom grew up in the dark ages! Lovely.

When I think back, the first computer I ever used was at school. It was shared among all the classes, and there was great excitement when it arrived. I found out years later, when I was a newly qualified teacher and met one of my former teachers at a conference, that our school had in fact taken part in a computer initiative. Had it not been for the efforts of one far-thinking teacher who was deeply involved in this initiative, I might never have seen a computer in my elementary years. That might have ‘aged’ me even more – YIKES!

Granny’s Garden was the first game I ever played. I still remember the drill:  insert the giant floppy disc into the oversized slot at the front of the computer; wait a few minutes to load; spend a precious few minutes finding the children, avoiding the evil the witch and solving the puzzles – then move to make way for the next student! Our first home computer was an Amstrad. The game took its sweet time loading up from a cassette which we would then have to turn over after about ten minutes so we could wait a little bit longer for it to reload. Manic Miner was my obsession. It was just a pity that every few levels I had to load the next part of the game which involved, yup, even more waiting – oh, and the sound of broadband ringing out loudly in the room (remember that?).

I’m sure you’ve probably see the ‘age test’ below on the internet – how did you do?age test

Even in university the phrase, ‘always copy onto a floppy’ was constantly cited to us in our educational technology class, where one student had earlier lost an entire project by forgetting to back-up her information. I know the need to back up is still, there my recent coffee spill on my laptop proved that (and I owe a huge ‘thank you’ to my dear husband, who is always able to solve my technology hiccups. Can I call a coffee spill on a laptop a ‘hiccup’?). But the fact that floppy discs were still the main form of backup 19 years ago just shows how far technology has come (I’ve just had a brief ‘eeek’ moment – 19 YEARS!!)

Anyway, scroll forward to 2014 and the world is such a different place. The internet is constantly at our fingertips, and if I leave my cellphone at home I feel like I’m functioning without a body part. News, weather, trivia, Facebook, Vine …. the amount of information available all the time is growing at an exponential rate, and new social media is constantly emerging. I have to confess to trying out Snapchat, just out of curiosity (as opposed to thinking I’m a teenager). Everything is instant and fast-paced, and our children are used to constantly changing information and media. Even a two year old typically knows how to navigate an iPad, and will quickly switch between screens.

Educational author and speaker, Marc Prensky has coined the terms ‘Digital Natives’ and ‘Digital Immigrants’ to describe this phenomenon – Digital Natives being those born into the digital age, whilst Digital Immigrants were born into the analog age (and, hence, are immigrants in this new digital era). I’m not too sure if I am wild about being considered a ‘relic’ in a digital age by Mr. Prensky, but I will graciously (reluctantly) accept his point. Our children and students are boldly going where none of us have gone before, so we need to be conscious that the ‘goal posts’ have shifted and that the world as we knew it, is just SO different to the one we grew up in.

But then, it’s different for us too, I guess. Even just over a year ago, this relic from the analog age would never have imagined that she would be blogging, running an online store and creating a digital presence for her store through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…..and probably any other platform that presents itself. The possibilities just keep on growing, and if you want to really think of how quickly things are changing, have a look at the “Shift Happens’ video clips. Even more food for thought, if our analog era brains can handle it!


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