I have been tinkering around with my Google Voice account after a colleague, @MrWarnes, showed me what he was trying with it. Then, speaking with our assistant principal, we got to talking about how tools like Google Voice and Skype are making traditional land lines obsolete. Wouldn’t it be great if everything you need for communication and productivity in school were in one place, one pipe if you will, coming through the ethernet cable?
Five years ago we cut the extra “pipes” into our house. We canceled our land line and switched to a VOIP phone service. All of our communication has been going through our cable modem. Some of our friends still find it “shocking” that although we have internet access through the cable TV provider, we don’t subscribe to cable TV. This is only due to the sticker shock of paying for so many channels that we never watch. Additionally, with the onslaught of Internet video services (Hulu, etc.), I believe the days of over-priced, over-stuffed channel services are numbered. In the last couple of months, fiber-optic service has been introduced in our area. We have signed up to convert to the higher quality dedicated pipe.
Of course it is possible to have one pipe for all communications, and there are many companies that are capitalizing on making the computer the single point of communication. How might this look in a school setting for a teacher, an administrator, or better yet, a student?
What would a main office look like if a principal (and his/her secretary) could manage all incoming and outgoing communication through the computer? What if a parent were able to go to the school website and click on a link to automatically call the school? What if the principal had an alert set up for any time the school hashtag was mentioned in Twitter, and could quickly respond if necessary?
What would a teacher’s classroom look like if all of their communication could be handled through the computer? No more leaving the desk or classroom to make a call, and then having to wait to get back to the computer to find necessary information. Voice calling access for teachers on their computer would be a huge benefit.
What would a student’s learning world look like if they had some form, any form, of technology at their disposal in the classroom? The technology divide for learning between adults and students is growing so large it is scary. We have arrived at a point where as adults and professionals, we could not last a day without the technology that we need. What sort of disservice are we doing by not providing our students with the same opportunity?
Mobile phones, and smart phones specifically, are the alternate form of the one pipe scenario. Just as the data machine is adopting voice on the computer, the voice machine is adopting data on the mobile phone. Adults are more used to the computer version of one pipe, while kids are more used to the mobile version. The type of pipe does not matter – what matters is having access to the pipe for learning.
Each of us needs only one pipe to be connected to the world. Each of us needs a pipe. All day, every day.
Thoughts or comments most welcome here, through Google Voice, or through Skype:
Talk to you on the pipe!