From Chalkboards to Smart Boards

From Chalkboards to Smart Boards in our classrooms, from rotary phones to touch screen mobile phones, from paper charts to electronic charts – We are there. It’s not accurate to say, “electronic charting is coming”. It is already here.

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Our refrigerator died last Summer. The small town store we ordered a new one from, gave us one on loan. It was a gold/green one with fake brown wood trim from the seventies. It had no bells and whistles.

One day while I was in the kitchen, my son, 7 at the time, came into the kitchen and stood in front of the 70’s fridge. He then walked out to the garage where our old one was waiting to be picked up and a moment later came back in.

He just sort of stood around in the kitchen for a minute so I asked him, “Isaac, what are you doing?” He looked at me totally bewildered and said, “mom, where do I get a drink of water?”

So I introduced my 7 year old to our faucet.

You see the only refrigerator we’d owned since he was born had a water dispenser in the door. He didn’t know any other way – he was used to getting water to drink from the fridge dispenser.

Just like Isaac, we are comfortable doing what we know based on our experience. That may not always be the most effective approach. When we talk about bringing computers into homes I think we have some accurate preconceived ideas and some not so accurate ideas.

Many of my friends who have teenagers tell me that they are much more likely to get a response from their teens if they text them rather than actually call and talk to them.

Generally people in their 30’s and 40’s are pretty comfortable with mobile devices. But what about the over 40 demographic, or the 65+ group?

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  • 42% of people 50+ own a laptop or tablet computer
  • The median usage on a typical day is 110 minutes, just under 2 hours.
  • The top 3 ways they are spending that time:

–Send/receive email 28%

–Use Internet 39%

–Play Games and listen to music 12%

  • People age 50-64 are more likely to use their laptop or tablet for 5 hours or more on a typical day compared to those age 65+.

According to a January 2011 study by the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP) 79% of people 50+ have a cell or mobile phone. 42% have a laptop or tablet computer. Now, what I think is more interesting is this:

  • The largest group of Facebook users by age are in the 35 – 54 age group and the number of Facebook users ages 55+ grew 922% in 2010. They now make up 9.5% of Facebook users.

If we can get over the hurdle of thinking that people older than 40 struggle to adopt new technology, and get away from thinking that they are so unfamiliar with computers that they are uncomfortable around them – that means we can start looking at computers and technology as bridges to clients, rather than barriers.