Nov 24 2010

The History of ET

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Is Technology neutral?

Having read some of the comments in the previous discussions, especially on the role of TV in changing the way we live and learn, I cannot see technology as neutral.  Clearly our society has changed (not sure it’s evolved) in the years most of us can remember.  I might be tempted to say we have changed more especially in recent years with web 2.0, but then I think of watching the first lunar landing, or seeing a videophone prototype at Expo 67.  I could not have imagined my life would be so interconnected to the tools I use.  Did my mother define her daily life by the stainless steel oven my dad installed in the 1960s?  Was her free time improved by the latest Electrolux vacuum cleaner?  It seems silly when I put it in those terms, yet I cannot deny that my lifestyle, my learning practices, my entertainment choices and of course, my teaching practices are all affected by the technological advances that have occurred in my time.

What disturbs me is whether we are questioning the effects of technology on our society or whether we are living at the pace that technology seems to now be dictating for us.  Shades of Heidegger??

How has TV changed our society and teaching practices?

I read about Plato’s concerns regarding the use of technology (writing) in Etec 540 and thought they seemed a little ridiculous.  Of course, it is difficult to us to imagine a fully oral society as existed then.  I am now ready to reconsider, having looked at Moody’s perspective.  What I think is affected is not the role of books but how we approach education and entertainment in general.  TV, when first introduced, was used as a gathering point for families to watch a show in the evening.  Later on, parents started to use this technology to entertain their children while they attended to other tasks.  This whole evolution seems to have isolated us more and more.  So although we might continue to find ways to communicate more easily, rapidly and globally through our new technologies, we seem to be doing this in an isolated fashion where each person pursues their own interests at their own pace.

These are considerations we must look into when designing curriculum, whether it be f2f or distance.  Technology has truly changed our society in terms of roles, communication and even values.  Therefore we must respond to this shift in our educational practices.

History of ET – First perspectives

I was very interested to read the first resources for this module.  I’ve taught computer history to my students before but it was from a business perspective.  One very interesting resources that outlines the competition between Apple and Microsoft is PBS’s Triumph of the Nerds video set.  I was also one of the many business educators that tried to reach and prepare students for the work world by teaching some of the most common applications.  I really saw computers as having that role in education, primarily.  Of course we have evolved along with the technology and now use computers in all our subjects (except English, where they seem to only see computers as word processors… a little sarcasm there).

Are major companies still trying to get a share of the education market?  Yes, but my Business teacher background tells me that more often the world outside education drives technological innovation and we just happen to stumble upon its possible uses in education.  But perhaps I am naive and old fashioned.  Let’s see what the rest of the module brings.

One final remark – I am sitting at my laptop, earphones on, looking and listening to the resources that are provided.  How different my learning experience is from when I was an undergrad student in the late 1970s.

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