Continuing Trends

I was reviewing new sets of surveys of students today about technology, and I was surprised by how trends over the past few years have continued and increased.

By far, the favored use of computers is for communication, with music and games falling behind in the listings. I’m becoming to think of computers a social tools as much as individual tools. It would be interesting to plot a chart showing five years of data comparing computer use for individual creativity and production vs. collaborative creativity and production.

To simply call it networking is too limited. It is a culture and community, with certain rules, but also some boundaries that are unclear. It’s easy to see how individuals portray themselves on discussion boards, for example, trying to build reputation with meaningful input. Sometimes put-downs or flames are used, but typically that doesn’t lead to lasting gains. In the end, building reputation is a continuing goal, and self-awareness grows from that. It can create a feed-back loop of giving to receive.

There are also signs in the surveys of more awareness of computer use as a limited function, instead of endless possibilities. Some colleagues the other day were referring to iMovie as the the new PowerPoint– it has a place, but can also be overused. The wow factor of certain technologies may have a shelf-life, and in the end it appears that the students feel the chats, emails and social and academic exchanges offer the real return on their investment of time.

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