5 December 2007

Stop the world, I want to get off...

Do you remember that catch phrase from way back? Was it the 60s or the 70s? Anyway, surely it must be even more pertinent now.

It was brought home to me today, in my job in ICT support at a secondary school. We were looking at a new VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) that we are using in school. The government has decreed that by sometime in 2008 all school students should have access to an online learning area, so all the talk is about VLEs and Learning Platforms at the moment.

With us were a group of Primary school teachers who frankly can't see the need for a VLE. The are small schools; in our area we only have slow internet connection (I can't get more than 512Kb no matter how much I pay a provider - school has 8Mb); many households in this area don't have internet, or even a computer at home. Obviously this is changing, but we are behind the rest of the country.

We were discussing the "information age", and the way everyone expects information to be available easily and instantaneously. Also the fact that we are preparing young people to take on technologies that haven't even been heard of yet, and to do jobs that don't exist yet. The rate of change is exponential, and kids have to be ready for it.

But on the faces of the adults, myself included, there was a kind of desperation. I ask myself, how can we achieve this when we ourselves have to run faster and faster just to stand still. How soon will the time come when we can no longer stand the pace? If everything continues to accelerate, surely this time will come at an earlier and earlier age as the years go by. Already I can feel in my bones that the technology will get the better of me sooner or later. I am 50 - people tell me that is much too young to start thinking about retirement, or even slowing down, but every day I fight the urge to step off the highway and let the traffic pass me by; to forget all about computers and new technology and podcasting and video conferencing and learning platforms and all the things I am expected to know about.

Can the human race withstand the pressure of all this information, or is it just me that finds it all a bit too much?

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