Hurtling down I-25 at 70 miles per hour, a phone latches securely into its windshield mount, tapping the van’s electrical system to augment its small reserve. Many devices look up as it passes by, sensing a potential WiFi partner, but its transient signal is gone before a pairing can be made. A device on the same trajectory reaches out and shakes hands. A connection is made.
My son looks up from his notebook, “Ok mom. I’m connected.”
“Log in for your class or you’ll be late.”
In London the teacher sits chatting with some early arrivals as she prepares to begin class. “Hi Micah,” she says as he enters the room. In two cities nearly half a world apart a student and teacher connect.
In Colorado Springs, Micah turns to this week’s chapter of “A Tale of Two Cities.” He’s not very fond of Dickens, but then how many 13 year-old boys are?
When I left a stable job of 12 years in south-east Michigan, I had no idea how transient our family would become. The economy took a nose-dive and the job market destabilized. Four years, six jobs, and five states later my wife and I are very glad we chose to homeschool after our first move. But what we have found is that we need help.
In many ways technology has served to separate people from each other. In the distant past people rarely left the town they grew up in. Most people I meet in Colorado were not born here, but have left their roots in search of work or pleasure. Technology has destroyed distance and increased distance at the same time.
But a brave new world lies before us. While several hundred years and a revolution separate us and our distant cousins in England, my son now chats with a teacher there in a way that would have been impossible 10 years ago. The world of online learning is a very different place than it was even four years ago when my family started this journey.
I’m just one engineer working on one small piece of learning technology. But I’d like to think I’m contributing to a revolution.
When Micah gets home I ask him what his teacher gave him for homework.
“I have to write a descriptive essay about a mango or a piece of fruit.”
Sis replies, “Maybe you should write a descriptive essay about dad’s nose.”
That would be a long tale indeed.