So I spent this past weekend on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire’s lake’s region. I brought my computer to edit some writing that I have been doing offline, but there was no internet there. To further complicate my life, cell service was so spotty that I was virtually disconnected – well okay, we had cable and a land line, but who uses only those these days?
On Saturday morning, my 5 year old daughter, Emma, asked if she could go on Webkinz.com. I told her that it was not available, to which she replied, “No, I’ve done it on your computer before.”
“Yes, but there is no internet, we can’t get to Webkinz.” I replied, assuming that was going to satisfy her inquiry.
“No, I can get on, I’ll show you.” She corrected.
I quickly realized that I was in trouble. There was no way that I was going to convince her that Webkinz was not available and that it was not housed in my computer. I realized that she had no idea “what” the internet was, nor how it helped her connect to Webkinz. She only knew that if she pressed the right combination of buttons, in the right order, she would be able to “visit” her Webkinz, play games, solve problems, virtually connect with her brother and sister (yes, they go to different parts of the house and meet online sometimes) and shop using her webkinz cash. She has no idea “how” this happens, she just knows that it does – kind of like me and my car, I have no idea how it works, I just know that when I turn the key, it runs.
But, here’s the story, Emma has never lived in a disconnected world. To channel Chris Lehmann, the internet to her is like oxygen. It is always there, always surrounding her, always available when needed, and when it is not available, there is a problem. She just assumes that it is available, all the time. In fact, she doesn’t even know that the internet exists! It would be akin to me not knowing that a car needs gas. She is part of a generation of students who have never known the difference between being connected and not. She is part of a generation that simply assumes that they will be able to connect. She is part of a generation of students who do not differentiate between local and global applications – to them applications are simply there, in their hands, ready to use. She is part of a generation that expects to be connected and expects to have resources regardless of where they are “housed”.
Which makes me think of this video about “connectivism” and wonder, will Emma have teachers who will meet her expectations.