edu180atl: jay watts 5.18.12
Today was the last day of class for my Economics students, and because my course is a non-exam course, we had few preparations to make for “Exam Week” that is just around the corner. Class started at 10:55 AM, and I knew that Facebook’s initial offering was scheduled to go public around 11:00 AM. I put up a live feed from the NASDAQ on the SMART Board to allow the students to witness the first trade of what some are calling the stock of the future. While we waited for trading to begin, I spoke about my brief history with online technology. Having graduated from college in 1994, I began my teaching career having neither accessed information from the web nor received an email. In 18 years, I have seen online companies like AOL and Netscape come and go. Each was promised to be the “future”, only to rapidly become a thing of the past. Once I completed my 15 minute talk, I allowed the students to have downtime watching the SMART Board or decompressing on their own laptops.
As I walked around the room, I was overwhelmed with the tools and resources the students are using voluntarily on an everyday basis. After standing in front of the room speaking as an “expert” about Facebook and its business model, I watched the students gravitate toward sites like Tumblr and Google + or mobile apps like Instagram. I listened as students explained to me how each was just a little different and allowed interaction with the world around them in a slightly different manner. My question of “Why would you not just do all of this on one site?” was quickly scoffed by the crowd as the pros and cons of each web environment were given almost in unison from the class.
I remember a quote from a lesson years passed that said, “You can not learn when you are talking. You can only learn when you are listening.” The 15 minutes I spent at the end of class listening to the students freely share information with each other and with me made me feel like I was back in 1994 learning things for the first time. In addition, hearing how the students wanted to interact with information and with others gave me a better understanding of their expectations for how they receive and filter information from the outside world. Last but not least, as I reflect back on today, I have decided that I should probably stay away from Facebook stock. Peter Lynch always says to invest in what you know, and I am long way from knowing about the next big thing in technology.
Jay Watts is an Economics teacher and the Assistant Athletic Director at the Westminster Schools. He is a lacrosse enthusiast, an avid fan of the University of Alabama, and convinced that he is closely related to Larry the Cable Guy.