Dec 02 2010

Parting comments from MET

Published by under Etec 511,Etec 512

As I come to the end of my MET journey, I thought I’d leave with an excerpt from my essay. The title is: Are computers making us stupid? The deskilling of Canadian students.

The concluding paragraph: In Technological Literacy and the Curriculum Apple states that technological changes are really changes in relationships. Is this not the crux of the question that I posed in the title of this article? Is the reason we perceive today’s students as being less intelligent since the introduction of technology in the classroom not as simple as acknowledging that there has been a change in our relationship to technology? Micheal Wesch explained it so eloquently in his video The Machine is us/ing us. Once we accept that this shift has occurred, we can start to understand its implications in education today. Teachers must evolve their methods to include digital literacy, critical thinking skills and a return to distributed learning and constructivism. Traditional methods of assessment must evolve to consider the many literacies and new skill set needed to function in a technologically charged environment. Without these shifts, students are no further ahead than if they were to sit in a room with every bit of information known to man and be expected to come out years later fully equipped to take their place as functional and productive citizens, only to find the world has changed immeasurably while they were in their learning incubator. This is the stuff of experiments, not real life.

I know many of you have watched some of Wesch’s videos in your MET courses and you may have been impacted by them as I have. As I drew up my bibliography last night, I was sitting beside my 20 yr old daughter so I decided to ask her to watch another Wesch video “A vision of students today”. Her response was to upload the link to FB and share it with her (377) “friends”. These are the comments that were posted on her page:

T – This video never even mentioned drinking… what’s school without drinking?
A – it’s not about drinking. it’s about how technology has taken over class rooms and using chalkboards is obsolete
K – what it should be about is how everything we learn from a proff we can learn from a book … all you need is a library…
AB – Maybe professors should be allowed to set off EMPs before class.
P – our sad reality –
A – is it sad for reality and society to evolve? why stay in the past with chalk and books when literally every resource we need is now online. we write more e-mails than we do essays. c’mon. it would be sad for us to not utilize our tools from our generation

I’ll let you guess which comments were made by my daughter (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). Why do I bring this up at this point in my journey? Because we must never lose sight that we are studying, implementing, integrating, using technology in our teaching for the benefit of the students. We have a duty to understand their needs as well as the tools that are available to fill those needs. The difficult issue with technology is that we are no longer sure if it has not artificially created those needs or whether we are witnessing the natural evolution that occurs whenever a new tool is introduced and becomes widely accepted,  no more radical than the shift from orality to writing (said tongue in cheek). I can only assert that technology is not neutral.

Lastly, thank you to all of my colleagues for their valuable contribution to my education.  These discussions have been my classroom and library, my soapbox and almost constant companion since September 2009.  I wish you all the best in your learning journey.

One response so far

Oct 14 2010

Is technology neutral?

Published by under Etec 511

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??

No responses yet

Oct 14 2010

How has TV changed our society and our learning practices?

Published by under Etec 511

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.

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