Student Insight on Communication via Technology

We have had some outstanding students walk through our halls.  I know this happens in every school.  As a colleague of mine posted yesterday it’s important that educators don’t get bogged down with the apathy of some students, rather we should celebrate the successes and try to mimic those profiles.  This year we have a senior that has earned an athletic scholarship to Kansas, we have a senior that has been accepted to attend Harvard, and another senior that will begin basic training in June preparing for the Air Force Academy in the Fall.  We have to continue to hold the bar high and stay focused on the successes.

I believe the experience in my classroom a success when students can engage in meaningful, thought-provoking dialog.  This week I have been discussing with my students how communication changes us and how the advances in technology have changed the way we communicate.  We brainstormed examples of advancement in computer technology in their lifetimes.  The list my students came up with included cell phones, texting, wii, playstation, ipod, ipad, GPS, faster processors, HD…the list went on.

There were some interesting observations when I posed the question, ‘how have these advancements affected communication in their lives?’  This inspired some anecdotes from Mr. Steltz.  I remember when I was dating my girlfriend (now wife) in college I actually had to wait until she got off of work to communicate with her.  There was not texting.  If we were to make plans for after work they would have had to have been made prior to work beginning.  Not the case anymore.  In high school, I remember having to watch the TV or listen to the radio early on snowy mornings to find out if we were going to have a snow day.  Today, I can go online as soon as I wake up in the morning to find out.  Just recently, our school district has used some sort of computer technology to actually call all the employees (and students maybe) with an automated message…so I don’t even have to power-up my computer.  My six year old son goes online in the morning to catch the Winter Olympic luge competition he missed the night before.

Technology has brought the world to our fingertips.  I was just reading the back cover of the book Wisdom2.o and it claims that people are willing to go without food and sex longer than being without the internet. The thought actually entered my mind, ‘Hmmm, I think that might be true in my case now that I have discovered Twitter.”

We have been studying figurative language in poetry the last few weeks.  Identifying and creating paradoxes has been a point of emphasis.  A student the other day said, “The way we communicate with technology has given us the opportunity to be closer together, yet we are further apart.”  Then, with a surprised satisfied smile on her face, exclaimed, “Mr. Steltz, that is a paradox!”  I smiled and agreed.  As I looked over the rest of the class I could tell they were thinking. I was blown away by the complexity of her comment and how it expressed a reality, a truth, about the age we are living in today.  We don’t need to see each other as much because we are texting or twittering or chatting….  The void of not seeing someone for a while can be filled by a quick tweet or text.

In that same conversation but in a different class a student quipped, “Communication with technology takes away time we spend together.”  I agreed saying that yes we spend too much time being entertained by wii, playstation, or ipods.  He the interjected, “No, Mr. Steltz, what I mean is that if I spend one hour texting, tweeting, or on FaceBook, that is one hour I don’t communicate with someone face to face, therefore not building the personal relationship.” Whoa!!!  Another complex idea expressing a truth about our world today.

There is certainly significance for students to learn how to communicate with people face to face and collaborate with their peers.  Today’s educators just need to figure out ways to incorporate and fuse the in-person communication with the technological communication.  Imagine an episode of Seinfeld be like if the characters were only allowed to communicate through technology.  How would Kramer bust open Jerry’s tweetdeck to make his grande entrance?  How would Elaine shove Jerry or George in the chest knocking them across the room and saying, “SHUT UP!!!”  George would never know exactly what to text to his next hot pursuit and, most certainly, his text or email or tweet would be totally taken the wrong way.  In fact, I am sure George would get himself in some sort of spiraling funnel of puns and metaphors in his ‘accidental’ sexting episode.  I am sure communicating via technology would suit Jerry just fine.  His apartment would be quiet, his fridge would remain stocked, and he could sit comfortably on his couch watching his Mets games without interruption.   Ahh…some things are just better communicating the old fashioned way, aren’t they?

My eyes and mind are opened on a daily basis with the gifts my students share with me.  I am living in a much different world today than I did when I was their age.  It wasn’t even that long ago…I’m only 38.  When we were writing sonnets last week, students had their ipods out doing google searches for rhyming word sites to help them in writing their sonnets. Some teachers might be anxious about this…where is the creativity?  I am trying to embrace these moments.  Any time I need information about something where do I go?  GoogleSearch!! Two days ago I had a student explain to me the benefits and applications of BlueTooth.  Wow!!

The point is I love to celebrate learning with my students.  I enjoy learning from them.  We have some great students with some great talents.  Let’s figure out what it is they want to learn and let’s help them find that information.


About jpsteltz

Proud husband and father of four; Literacy Specialist; Reading Teacher; Literacy Coach; HS ELA Teacher; Published Author
This entry was posted in Education, Education Administration, Educational Leadership, Teaching, technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Student Insight on Communication via Technology

  1. Ellen says:

    I am amazed at the insight of a high school student who can see the advantages and disadvantages of technology as it relates to the way we communicate. As I read this post, I couldn’t help but think about the number of people who have been shut in physically, emotionally, spiritually. People who are afraid to go outside of their homes or themselves. Through technology, these people have found ways to communicate. There is a sense of safety in communicating with people who you don’t ever see. No first impression or assesment based on how a person looks.

    I watch my daughter use all of these gadgets, sending texts and emails to kids she may not have an actual conversation with (specifically the boys!). I wonder if the overuse of technology is creating people who are socially challenged. We can text and email like crazy but can we speak coherently and intelligently? At my daughter’s kindergarten parent/teacher conference, her teacher made a point to tell me that my daughter was one of a few students who actually looked adults in the eye when being spoken to. I see kids her age (12) who are more comfortable keeping their eyes on their phones than looking at another person. Kids would rather be texting that engaging in face to face conversation. At lunch the other day, the lady I was sitting with could not stop checking her messages. My husband comes home from work last night and says hi….I’m too busy sending emails to even get up and welcome him home. How can we be present for one another if we are so caught up in all the technology? There was a time when going for a dirve in your car was a way to get away for a few minutes or to have some quality family time (sometimes the only family time!). Now, people can be contacted no matter where they are or what they are doing.

    Yes, communication has changed for the good and the not so good.


  2. Trish Rogatzki says:

    Your students are very insightful in some ways! Like Ellen, I, too, worry about the lack of face-to-face communication. I think kids are failing to learn who their true friends are until something bad happens. Sometimes, the “something bad” is tragic. They don’t have enough experience looking people in the eye during conversation. They also learn how easy it is to lie, on line, in a text, etc. to their parents and each other. All the communication tools can help us stay closer in touch, but I think we say fewer meaningful things to each other. The rest is just idle blabbing we use to deceive ourselves into thinking we have something important to share. Perhaps that is what I am doing now…:o)


    • jsteltz says:

      Trish…so glad to have you making contributions to this blog. You have always had good insight on raising children and teaching students. I never thought about the angle of people not being so truthful when communicating via technology. That is so true.

      Hey, by the way, we DO all have something important to share…so keep sharing !!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Elvis says:

    Dear Mr.John,

    I just went through what you had to say and sharing your experience with your students, it sounds great. I would like you to recommend a book or book(s) perhaps concerning communication and technology. I would like to expand my knowledge on this topic..Plz kindly give your advice.
    Thanking you in anticipation for a favourable response.

    Yours sincerely,
    Elvis Nwankwo


  4. Elvis says:

    Dear Mr.John,
    I just went through what you had to say and sharing your experience with your students, it sounds great. I would like you to recommend a book or book(s) perhaps concerning communication and technology. I would like to expand my knowledge on this topic..Plz kindly give your advice.
    I am a student at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield UK

    Thanking you in anticipation for a favourable response.

    Yours sincerely,
    Elvis Nwankwo


    • jsteltz says:

      A Whole New Mind written by Daniel Pink provides the justification for the use of technology in our changing world. In our globally competitive world, we have to give our students the tools to use their creativity to stand out among the rest.

      I hope this helps.


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