Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Role of Technology

The drive toward complex technical achievement offers a clue to why the U.S. is good at space gadgetry and bad at slum problems. ~John Kenneth Galbraith

When I think about technology, the first thing I consider is an email that I received a few months ago from a friend, that was a bit terrifying as an educator. Here were some of the statistics and facts that this video had to offer: 

- If you are one in a million in China, there are 1,300 people just like you.
- China will soon become the NUMBER ONE English speaking country in the world.
- The 25% of India's population with the highest IQ's, is Greater than the total population of the United States. Translation: India has more honors kids than America has kids.
- The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010, did not exist in 2004.
- We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet. (For an example look at the technologies current in movies today...)
- The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today's learner will have 10-14 jobs, by the age of 38.
- 1 in 4 workers has been with their current employer for less than a year.
- 1 in 2 has been there less than 5 years.
- 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met online.
- There are over 200 million registered users on MySpace.
- If MySpace were a country, it would be the 5th-largest in the world (between Indonesia and Brazil).
- The #1 ranked country in Broadband Internet Penetration is Bermuda.
- #19 The United States
- # 22 Japan
- We are living in exponential times, there are 31 billion searches on Google every month.
- In 2006, this number was 2.7 billion, to whom were these questions addressed B.G.? (Before Google).
- The first commercial text message was sent in December of 1992.
- Today, the number of text messages sent and received everyday, exceeds the total population of the planet.
- Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 million, radio 38 years.
- Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 million, TV 13 years.
- Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 million, Internet 4 years
- Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 million, iPod 3 years.
- Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 million, Facebook 2 years.
- The number of internet devices in 1984 was 1,000.
- The number of internet devices in 1992 was 1,00,000.
- The number of internet devices in 2008 is 1,000,000,000.
-  There are about 540,000 words in the English language, about 5x as many as during Shakespeare's time.
- It is estimated that a week's worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.
- It is estimated that 4 exabytes (4.0x10^19) of unique information will be generated this year. That is more than the previous 5,000 years.
- The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years.
- For students starting a 4 year technical degree this means that, half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study.
- NTT Japan has successfully tested a fiber optic cable that pushes 14 trillion bits per second down a single strand of fiber.
- That is 2,660 CDs or 210 million phone calls every second. It is currently tripling every six months and is expected to do so for the next 20 years.
- By 2013, a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capabilities of the human brain.
- Predictions are that by 2049, a $1000 computer will exceed the computational capabilities of the entire human species. 
- During the 4 minutes and 21 seconds that it took to present all that information in the video:
-67 babies were born in the US
-274 babies were born in China
-395 babies were born in India
-And 694,000 songs were downloaded illegally

Research by Karl Finch, Scott McLood, Jeff Bronman

Technology can be a scary thing. It's growing faster than anything else on the planet and has yet to truly come to a solution to some of the world's major issues. But if you consider all the advances science has made it feels as though it may  just be at the balance point between good and bad.

If we look at technology in the classroom, it has reached the next generation even faster. I had the old macintosh computers in kindergarden to play math games on, but children now have computers to write papers with. Most classrooms and school districts have some form of technology in the classroom. It has led to more information being processed and sometimes easier ways of finding things out. But it can also be a crutch. Instead of making your own conclusions and deciding things for yourself, it's easier to find someone else's opinion online.

Technology in the classroom can be good or bad depending on what you have students do with it. With proper instructions and guidelines it opens up communication and increases globalization starting with students who have the power to change things. It is here that we can teach them tolerance by having pen pals from other counties, researching crimes against civil liberties and giving them a more honest outlook of the world. It is through knowledge that we can help to have more educated citizen to make things better.


  1. I couldn't have said this better myself...well put! Glad we survived the meeting tonight! See you Wednesday. Leann

  2. The amount of information that you know is staggering. Some of those statistics make me wonder if we are going in the right direction at all. How busy can we become with the internet dragging so much of our time into it? I can truly appreciate the benefits of quick info and all the perks that it offers to hte business world, but the availibility in the home has to occupy and (my fear) distract so many youths (and adults) from acheiving common endeavours such as reading and/or things around the yard or visiting with someone rather than IM or texting or tuning the world out with their MEDIA. It does not seem like any of these tech changes inspire people to pull the plug and get back to nature.
    OK, that being said...your stats are well stated and developed a truly vivid picture in my mind of the exponential rise in use of media, thanks.