Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hello, Out There!

The hottest trend in education today involves the teaching of 21st Century Skills. I’m not sure that everyone agrees on what those skills are, but nearly everyone would include facility with contemporary and future technology as core concepts.
My family put on a 21st Century Skill clinic yesterday, and I’ll be damned if I fully understand just what went on.

It all began when my daughter Amanda, who is currently somewhere in Cambodia (having already passed through Thailand and Laos and soon heading to Bali and Malaysia) sent an IM to my wife on her iPhone. (Beware: I am planning to use initials, acronyms, and the occasional technology abbreviation in this post. BTW, if you do not understand these items, then you are probably hopelessly lost in the 20th century with me.)

The IM noted that Google had suspended her gmail account because the company’s techno-bots suspected that her account must have been hacked or taken over by someone else. The reason: why else would she be sending and receiving messages in so many different countries so far from her Jersey or Georgia homes?

No problem, you say. Just let Google know that she was actually she. They would send her a code to re-activate her account, she would communicate the code via text message, and all would be well. Oh, ho! And Oh, no! You see, Amanda had not purchased an international data plan before heading to Southeast Asia. She planned to latch onto wi-fi where she could to send emails via the Internet and use IMs even from the jungle to communicate via iPhone to my wife, who would then let me in on whatever news I needed to know by voice (using the old-fashioned face-to-face communication method).

Can you hear me now?
Google sent the code, but Amanda had no way to activate it without using 4G technology to send a text message. (Are you following this so far?) So she sent an IM to Audrey asking her to contact Verizon in order to purchase a day’s or a week’s worth of cellular data so she could send her text message. Now, Audrey might have trouble carrying out the instructions, but luckily our son Brett was around for the morning, and he has a firm grasp on 21st century skills. Following his direction, Audrey used our 20th century phone (we really should look into more up-to-date equipment) to call Verizon and make the purchase. To do this, of course, Audrey had to first check her handwritten file of passwords to make sure that Verizon would accept her as being herself. Done and done.

Audrey then sent a return IM to Amanda. There was a brief mention of Buddhist temples and other marvels of Cambodia and a quick thank you for making the data purchase--or so I have been told.

She says she's having a great time!
Unfortunately, as of last night, Amanda was still having some difficulty sending her text to Google. Until that time, she may need to resort to sending smoke signals. I keep looking at the sky hoping to see her latest update. It’s a brave new world we live in!

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