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Archive for March, 2010

I was looking out a restaurant window last Wednesday evening when an SUV pulled up and stopped in the parking lot. Mom was apparently letting her two daughters out to enter the restaurant while she parked the vehicle.

I could see one daughter, a high schooler I’d guess, opening the side door to help her younger sister out. They both came around the back of the SUV and crossed the parking lot in route to the front door of the restaurant.

Like ducks in a row, the older led the younger. The older girl, about 15 or 16, was texting like crazy as she walked unconcerned across the parking lot. Her little sister, who could not have been more than 4 years old, was doing the same thing on what I assume was a toy cell phone.

There’s the future, I thought. That is, if fortunately for them, no speeding vehicle shortens their days, because each was too absorbed in her texting to notice little things like oncoming traffic.

But it’s not just young people. A dear friend from Canada told me that at an early movie this past Saturday night, her party noticed a young man sitting alone using his Blackberry throughout the movie.

In Japan, 20 percent of high school girls have not only one, but two, cell phones, and some own even more. These teenagers stay on the phone “all the time” as one of them put it.

The Pew Research Center finds that 75 percent of Americans ages 12 to 17 own a cell phone, and the age at which kids  gettheir first phone is dropping. If what I saw at the restaurant is any gauge, it is dropping really low.

Pew reports that 66 percent of users use their phones for texting. It is sometimes carried to extremes, like the Japanese teenagers who use Ziploc bags to keep their phones waterproof while they use them in the bath.

Web 2.o technologies are extraordinary. We are able to communicate in ways we could not have imagined just a few years ago. But what does it all mean? Just because we can text in the shower, does that make it a desirable thing to do?

What concerns me most is how technology is used by my mostly Millennial Generation students now and in the future. Web 2.0 technologies are exciting and capable, but harnessing them to be useful in strategic communication/public relations is essential.

There is much to know about such topics as using social media to successfully support integrated marketing communication programs.

The conflict will accelerate: businesses believe Millennial Generation students are inherently tech-savvy and hire them expecting quick results. Not so. They are not.

And to be honest, college prep is lagging way behind. We must find more and better ways of preparing students for the real world of work they will face.

Innovative waterproofing to allow shower texting is funny, but not being able to deliver the requisite technological skills on the job isn’t.

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My father would be proud. After five years of course work for my doctorate in Instructional Technology at Towson University, I am beginning to write the literature review for my dissertation.

I devoted this week — spring break — to the project. I have spent the entire week at my computer searching peer-reviewed journals online for research that relates to my area of interest, then writing my first draft.

Baby steps, but steps nonetheless. I was making good progress, then my computer keyboard died. The space bar cease to work, so there was no spacing between words. My lit review copy came out like this:

“communicationisareciprocalprocessofexchangingsignalstoinformpersuadeorinstruct…”

I’d write a sentence, which smunched together, then go back and add spacing between words, a tedious chore to say the least. I wonder if the great scholars whose work I am now reading ever had to go back and add spacing between each word? I think not, because there is a huge amount of research out there. The inability to space words in sentences would be detrimental to their prolific output, I think.

It sure was detrimental to my efforts. But that was then, and this is now, writing on my new keyboard. You can’t be a scholar without some practical tools. Now, what I need is research materials related to my topic. It is hard to find relevant and timely research that relates well enough to be instructive. One might think it would be easy, but I am  finding it difficult.

Perhaps the problem lies with my Boolean logic.  Conducting an advanced search through Towson’s excellent Cook Library databases and subject gateways appears to be at once art and science. I have not mastered it yet, but I keep at it.

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