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Swinging a sack of doorknobs

This past weekend, the traditional Fall ritual took place, of stuffing hundreds of dollars of school supplies into backpacks that will then be placed on my children's backs, giving them a hunchback that would make Quasimodo jealous. As I was trying to cram in just one more 1.5-inch 3 ring binder, I started asking myself... "Self, why in the world are we teaching these kids to subsist on physical media still???" I didn't bother to answer my own question, because that would have made it a 2-way conversation, and I think there's supposedly something wrong with talking to yourself. But, I did start to take stock of all the paper, pens, pencils and composition books, and realized that maybe our education system needs to start embracing technology beyond learning PowerPoint, and playing Math Blaster.

OK, I realize I'm being a little harsh there, but my point is that when I look at how I use technology in my work and personal life, it's very often as a productivity and communication tool. For example, one of the most common uses for an iPad around my office, is running Evernote, and using it as a virtual notebook for meetings. A tablet is a great tool for meetings because it's not as distracting as an entire laptop, but it can get the job done for most meeting tasks. So as I packed one more composition notebook in my son's bulging chiropractor-financial-support-device, I wondered... shouldn't our kids be learning to use tablets for note taking now? Before they get into the workforce?

Then I started having memories of last Spring when school ended. My son literally threw away his entire backpack on the last day of school. Ya we weren't too happy about that, and had to go back and retrieve some stuff, but the point was that 90% of what his backpack was filled with was notes that he didn't need anymore. I then remembered the box in the basement that contains my graduate degree files. It's filled with folders and folders of notes that I don't ever look at, and probably never will again. That's reams and reams of paper that will just hit the recycling bin and be made in to paper again that will get notes written on it and then thrown into a recycling bin...

So maybe the time as come to trim back to school shopping lists. I'd love to have a list for my kids that looks more like this:

  1. Pack of Pencils and one notebook (Still need an occasional physical note)
  2. DropBox.net school sponsored account for cloud storage of documents
  3. Tablet computer with a school sponsored package of software
I realize this is a tall order to change things so dramatically, but I'd love to see it happen in my kids educational lifetime. To start, it will require heavy sponsorship of the technology in areas where families can't afford a tablet or a home computer, but I think the pay-off would be incredible in equipping our kids for the workforce of the future.

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