Monday, March 21, 2016

Continuing the technology cycle

Is it possible for our kids to be better with technology then their parents?

Is that what they call it? The cycle where kids are better with technology then their parents are?

It would not surprise me at all to see that same trend continue - not just because my kids are so awesome but because there are so many tools out there that are used to teach and learn those skills.

When I was growing up there wasn't really even an internet. I remember doing book reports in school using a physical encyclopedia - 26 individual books that made up a rudimentary sort of Wikipedia. Now things move much faster. The research that took me several hours of combing through different volumes, getting rides to the library and then slowly plunking out a couple pages worth of a report just to hear zrzrzrzrzrzzrzrzrzrzr bmmmmmmmmmt zrzrzrzrzrzrzrzrzrzrzzrz bmmmmmmmmm as it printed from our dot matrix printer. We even had "Print Shop" so I could make fancy multi-page banners!

Last week my wife an I helped our oldest son write his first report on Cheetahs. I was utterly amazed by what he was able to find. Facts about their eating habits, digestion, bone structure, endurance and their speed.

When first wanted to learn coding or website design I couldn't really just Google a question - even "broadband" speeds were a fraction of the speeds today; a simple search would take stupid amounts of time. It was literally faster to go to the library and check out a book (ikr?) then to try and look it up on the internet.

Now - there's an App for that. Not only is there a host of online schools and education companies there is literally apps designed to teach kids programming and logic skills. Games that let you use logical building blocks to accomplish a specific task. One called "The Foos" has numerous pre-built levels of increasing difficulty it also lets kids engage in an almost multi-player mode where one person could build a level and set an objective then another could use logic building blocks to accomplish the task. And I am not just talking about a movement block - I am talking about things like an if-then-else block that allows kids to practice as close to real programming as you can get.

I am really glad to live in a time when there is so much available to almost everyone. With programs and products like One Laptop Per Child and Raspberry Pi the resources available to develop those skills are more and more available to low income areas.

Think about this; it was not all that long ago that "DIY" meant building a garden box or fixing a sink. Now almost anything you want to do has a 5 minute How-To video on YouTube. Want to build a LED light setup for a cosplay outfit? Yup it's there. Make a rag rug like your Grandma? That's there too. Now DIY means almost anything - from integrated circuits to crochet. Technology and how we use it is making that possible.

So to answer my question, Can kids of today be better with technology then their parents? Yes, but they will have to work hard. With so much available to teach new skills it is easier for parents to keep up. Kids somehow seem to be able to climb steeper hills at a faster pace with less energy if we don't keep going at a decent clip they will easily pass us.

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