Slow is the new Real-Time

I’m not sure about your class, but I’m not the least bit bothered by a slow Internet connection.

I refuse to upgrade to the highest gigabit speed at home, even though I am involved in all kinds of social media initiatives. We here in the U.S. have been lured by speed as if we don’t have enough time for anything. It’s one huge fallacy that we pass onto our kids. We have time to bust 90 minutes on a so-so TV show, but don’t have 10 minutes to read a magazine? We have 15 minutes to spend at a coffee shop, but don’t have 45 seconds to download a PDF?

Give me a break!

Last week our computers went down. Students were logged on, and had to wait patiently till they came back. So what? We used this down time to talk about what exactly a server is, and why technology is not fail proof. This class is not just about the latest tips and tricks for using Publisher or how to master Lego Mindstorms.

This is about the human-machine interface they had better learn about; this is about engaging the brain before engaging a mouse; the Web 3.0 world in which machines will be talking to machines as a default system. Humans will need to have the patience –and time– to work through the glitches, which will be a norm. These young people we unleash into society will need to find the space to be creative and to collaborate, with or without a broadband connection. Indeed, many of these interactions will be in real-time. But alongside this real-time, they need to learn to handle situations that won’t always provide instant gratification.

We better teach them that now –as in second and third grade!

Ain’t it odd that we see stories such as School Districts Seek Faster Internet Connections, as if the Internet speed is a prerequisite for everything? It’s a problem only if we let people make us believe the speed-limit lie. Here’s one of those non-issues that are made to sound profound – in that Education Week article.

“Creating a network and buying broadband is a lot more complicated than buying pencils.”    

—   EducationSuperHighway spokesperson

Teachers are often enticed with the latest shiny new object as if it would change learning overnight. I like to see stories about school districts seeking broader, deeper library research material.  Or a statement like this:

“Creating information literacy is a lot simpler than dropping tablets into a classroom.”

Just dreaming!

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