Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back-to-School Gadget Guide

There was a time when "Back-to-School" simply meant perhaps getting a new set of pencils, a ruler, some copybooks, and of course a trip to the book shop with a list of books for the new year. For primary school in the 60's my Mum would almost always get us new shoes (brown and plain which we hated), some new clothes (plus older ones patched up), and a hair cut. Secondary school in the 70's needed a bit more planning as I was sent to a boarding school - each year we were loaded down with new pens, maths sets, plenty of copybooks, and enough "tuck" to last several weeks. For College in the 80's I needed little more that a pen, a notebook, a calculator - all I ever wore were jeans, sneakers, t-shirts, and a green combat jacket. 

Apart from a calculator, I did not need (or get) any gadgets - it was only during my postgraduate studies in 1986 and 1987 that I first used a computer (DEC 20 Mainframe, and later a Mac Classic). Things are different nowadays!

ABC News reports today about what gadgets modern students are recommended to get in a "Back-to-School" Gadget Guide (there's a 30 second ad first):

Today's students are nobodies without a printer, iPad, a Barnes & Noble "nook" (an eReader), a smartphone (a Samsung Galaxy in video), a "Zohm" (unsure of spelling) key fob to track your iPhone, a Microsoft Arc wireless keyboard, and lots of accessories to personalize your gadgets. Apart from a printer (recommended for school dormitories), all of the above will fit into a small school bag. It also seems to me that an iPad will do almost everything that the other gadgets mentioned in the report will do. Interestingly, the presenter also notes that many schools in the US now allow students to rent digital books rather than buying paper versions.

Only a couple of weeks ago my Dad showed me his old school in Shillelagh, Co. Wicklow which he attended in the late1930's. Definitely no gadgets then! He told me that many of his schoolmates did not wear shoes and he recalls taking off his own shoes just to be like the other boys. In 70 years we have gone from going to school in bare feet, to having an accessorized iPad. What gadgets will the students of 2080 be using for school? And what will they think of the gadgets that were used in 2010?

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