Last evening I attended my first Net Tuesday meetup, and wanted to quickly jot down a reflection while its all still fresh. “Tablets, Smartphones, iPads, iPhones: Gadgets for Good?” was presented by Mel Findlater to a full house of savvy, socially conscious, movers and shakers from Vancouver and surrounding areas. The evening was highly interactive, with much discussion and sharing which the speaker fostered and incorporated into her topic like a pro. The crowd was eager and receptive and I was struck by the broad range of ideas they contributed, each drawing on their personal experience providing relevant examples. Everyone there clearly was passionate about social change, but came from different backgrounds and had varying ‘geek levels’.
The topic centered around the potential of mobile devices to be deployed to improve Education, Communication and Independence in peoples lives, but particularly those in our society that could use a little extra support to, as Mel put it, “express themselves using their own voice”. The advice was very practical and there was alot of app sharing going on here, and I discovered some new ones myself that will be of interest to follow up on. The most promising for me were, Mindings, a family networking app that provides FB type sharing while taking advantage of tablets large screen size (not to mention while avoiding FB!) and Popplet, a snappy little mind mapping/brainstorming tool, that allowed Mel to quickly record audience thoughts during the group brainstorm. I also thought it was interesting that she cited the “Flipped classroom” as a model for improved education. You can browse through her presentation for more details.
I guess the thing that stuck with me the most was the perspective that everyone in the room, although passionate about technology, had a clear problem, or goal to achieve using it. Fundraising, building community, outreach, were all mentioned. Often the work in higher ed, has been to provide a technology to users, but once a system is implemented, how it is used receives little support or attention. I am hoping to keep this mind as I move forward with my tech related projects, “It’s not the tool, its how you use it.”