I was fortunate to spend a week with relatives in Wellington, New Zealand to celebrate my grandmother’s 85th birthday. In between scoffing cake, laughing and catching up, I noticed a significant change in my internet habits. On reflection I put this largely down to the people I was spending time with.
I spent the time with my parents and my aunts who used newspapers and television as sources of news and weather information, and the brochures in the hotel for local attractions information. It was odd to find that checking email, facebook and google reader over breakfast felt ‘wrong’. I missed the level of connection I feel with frequent check-ins to my network, and changed my patterns accordingly by the end of the week.
Normally I’ll check my personal email over breakfast, and again in the evenings in between other things. When on the road in Australia I’ll use the web frequently through my mobile phone to check opening hours, addresses, weather and more.
But, being sensible with a pre-paid NZ SIM card meant I didn’t have my normal connectivity. I did use the hotel’s broadband internet access as I took along my ASUS EEE netbook. 20 MB/ 24 hours/ $5.00 was a very reasonable deal – One batch of Flickr photos got uploaded but I could have done more, if my photos were better. Oh, and google talk uses very little bandwidth.
There were a number of times, when we were out, that I went to reach for my phone and had to stop. If you’d asked me a week ago if I used my mobile data allocation on my phone I would have said, ‘not much’.
So what does this mean for our learners? I could suggest that, if internet or computer, use is not ordinary or pervasive amongst the people they spend time with, then potentially their use will be lower, no matter how much value they may get from it. And also, once it has embedded itself into their ways of living, it will be odd without it. Patience and persistence are the key?