Dr. Brené Brown says that, “Connection is why we’re here; it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about.” What keeps many people out of connection is that they feel they are not worthy of connection. Brown explains that people with a stronger sense of belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging. These people also fully embrace vulnerability. Her conclusion, from many observations and interviews, is that the best way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. To me, this sounds like adopting a perspective of life in perpetual Beta. I think that the vulnerability we show when embracing social media is actually a path to a better life.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Sir Ken weaves an intriguing and convincing story. He causes one to ask questions, to reflect and think. Even if you do not agree with all he says, the case for a paradigm change in education rings true.
Is what he states about ADHD true? Are we medicating kids to slow them down to function in schools? Should schools be organized differently so this is not the case?
At the end of the video, Sir Ken talks about the importance of collaboration. Just think of your own learning; how often do we ask questions and discuss with others to come to an understanding? Learning is social in nature and the tools of digital technology make collaboration easier, so why not make use of them?
Does our current model of education need change? In the words of Sir Ken, schools are "modeled on the interests of industrialism" with bells, subjects, grouping by age and so on. Does the current emphasis on standards and standardized tests measure the types of learning that really counts? They often measure content knowledge and rote facts, not creativity & critical thought. It seems that the primary goal of education today is economic; preparing for the world of work. I would agree that this is important, but goals of imparting democratic values, citizenship, critical, creative, and divergent thought are vital. These goals are even more important in the age of digital technology, access to unlimited amounts of information and instant, mobile communication. Too often what is done in schools is controlled and influenced by those who do not really want people to question and think for themselves. What can we do to effect change in our schools and classrooms?
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
When I first started teaching in the Faculty of Education, I wanted to design my course (I teach the educational technology course) to meet the needs of my students; teacher candidates in Manitoba. The province was also implementing a new initiative called "Literacy with ICT", which called for teachers to infuse ICT into their classrooms. There was, of course, much written in popular literature about Gen Y, or the 'digital natives', this was useful for motivating and inspiring teachers to change, but was it true? What was the actual competency and knowledge about ICT that my students brought to the program? There was also some suggestion that the ed. Tech course be discontinued and that ICT be part of other courses, after all, the students were all "tech-savvy". Glenn and I decided to investigate what our student's actually used technology for, and how they saw themselves in terms of competency in certain areas.
|photo from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcleod/3105191883/in/photostream/|
(please refer to the previous post for our presentation at the Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Conference)
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
In July, I presented (along with a colleague) at the "Emerging Technologies for Online Learning" conference in San Jose, California. The presentation was called "Digital Misconceptions: Implications for teaching and learning", you can find out more about it here.
I chose to drive to San Jose (with my wife), then up the California coast up through Seattle into B.C. then home through Edmonton after a visit with my son & his family. The journey was memorable for many reasons. First, we saw some amazing scenery, starting with prairie, the edge of the badlands in North Dakota and Montana, to the Mountains and hot springs in Yellowstone, to salt flats near Salt Lake City, the Nevada desert, rolling foothills, vineyards, Giant Redwoods, the rocky Pacific coast and the mighty Rockies in B.C. and Alberta. It is humbling to see the raw beauty of our continent. We also saw temperatures from 40 C in Billings and in Nevada, to 7 C up high in Yellowstone Park to a chilly 16 C in San Francisco. On a technology related note, it is amazing how slow hotel internet is, even in the heart of Silicon Valley!
Some photos from along the way (top: Yellowstone, Nevada desert, Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, Redwood; bottom: salt flats, Pacific coast, Golden Gate, Apple HQ):
While in California, the number of homeless people struck me, probably because of the nicer weather, although we have plenty in Canada, too. I guess it was because they were so visible, around the hotel in San Jose, at rest stops, on the streets of San Francisco and Eureka, it affected me more than I thought. It was difficult to see so many in need in such a place of wealth. I don't know the solution, but we must try, even if it is giving to food banks or donating to shelters. So many get a raw deal in life, I believe we must take responsibility for ourselves, but some people just need a helping hand.
Fairmont) was a sculpture and part of it was the plaque with a quote about education. The sculpture was in honour of Ernesto Galarza. The quote (one of several on the monument) is one worthy of consideration, we must constantly remember that education is for the learner, not the adults who too often hold all the power.
We stayed a few nights at Mt. Robson Park in B.C. in a small cabin with an amazing view of the largest peak in the Canadian Rockies. We had no TV, no cell signal, no Internet, just nature and time to read, play cards and enjoy nature. It was hard to do without the trappings of modern life, I would not want to go without for long, but it was nice to unplug awhile. I recommend some unplugged time for all of us, we need time to relax, see the world, slow down and enjoy life! Well, not much here about technology, just some thoughts from a great road trip and a reminder that we need balance, while technology is part of our world and we can't go back (do we want to?), we must not let it control us, so take a break, look around, take a road trip!
|Mt. Robson from 'my' cabin @ Mt Robson Lodge. Photos are nice, but nothing beats being there!|
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Is it the next great thing? Is it a game changer? Tough questions, the answer, I think, depends on the user. I have no doubt that it can, and will, have an impact on education and on personal, mobile devices. Is it perfect? - no, but few devices are. Many of the criticisms leveled at it are justified - and others not - it depends on how you view it.
In some ways, it can replace a laptop or desktop, but I don't think that is the purpose. I have come to really enjoy using the iPad, it has all the advantages of the touch - but is easier to read (old eyes), type on and generally to work on. I find it easy to use - although I find it easier to hang on to with a case, the "naked" iPad was harder to keep a good grip on - maybe I was just afraid of dropping it. The touch screen is very responsive, although, like the iPod Touch, you have to get used to fingerprints! It is quick to turn on and for Apps to launch, that is one great bonus over a netbook, Windows in any incarnation: XP, Vista or 7, takes forever to boot (I have used all these Windows versions). So it is easy and convenient to grab, turn on, check email, twitter, RSS or jot a note. I will like it when multi-tasking is available, it is not a big deal, but it would be nice to listen to streaming radio while reading news feeds or whatever.
Another complaint was no camera. I don't see this as a major problem, most everyone has a digital camera and you can transfer photos by syncing, using a web service or buying the connector for cameras. As well, wielding an iPad around to take photos might be a little awkward. It would, however, be nice to have a small web cam built in for use with Skype.
There are so many great Apps (I won't use this post to discuss Apple's policies in this regard),some of my most used Apps are: Twitterific, SimpleNote, Adobe Ideas, FeedlerRSS, QuickVoice, AccuRadio among many others. I recently purchased (most of my Apps are free), Office2HD, it seems very good, so far. Photos and video look great on it, it came in handy showing off pictures of my new Grandson! There is so much to choose from and try out, I have only scratched the surface. I have some free books on it, but have not spent much time using it as a book reader, yet, but the various Apps for this look good.
Finally, there are so many Apps for education - many free - that I can envision this being a great (albeit expensive) tool for schools. I have several amazing astronomy Apps, some excellent graphing calculators (who needs an expensive graph calc?), an amazing Periodic Table (guess I didn't really have to memorize it all those years ago - yes, I had to memorize it!) and more. I can also see how it can be a great tool for e-textbooks, imagine all texts on one device, easy & quick to access, with built in multimedia? I hope to get a few iPads and give them to my students to try out and play with to get their impressions about how they might use it in their classrooms. I have heard some stories of their use in schools and I look forward to reading more about this from teachers and students as this information starts to appear. Of course, schools should consider their needs (based on student learning!) before making any major purchases, perhaps the iPad is not the answer, but maybe it is.
In summary, I very much enjoy my iPad. I look forward to using it more and trying more Apps. It has shortcomings and will not replace my computers ... but it has been an excellent companion so far.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
This is an interesting interview - take a few minutes to give it a listen (link above).
Some links: E.O. Wilson's Biodiversity Foundation.
The Boston Globe: Gallery of photos of this disaster.
TED Talk : E.O. Wilson talks about "Saving Life on Earth"
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Stay tuned! (I HAD to start his before Gary got home!)
... Ok, back again!
Friday, April 2, 2010
It talks about a study that shows kids are not getting the required sleep because they are watching TV, playing video games or using their cell phones. The results include tiredness, lack of concentration and behaviour problems. This takes me back to Lana's presentation of the Kaiser Report and the role of parents. It seems to me that not only kids, but parents need some educating as well. Technology might be a factor, but a little parenting might help the situation. The article goes on to talk about the effect on teens as well, too bad it ends with this quote:
"These morning-light-deprived teenagers are going to bed later, getting less sleep and possibly under-performing on standardised tests."
A much better and valid reason than this could have been made - I wish we could get off this standardised testing nonsense as a way to gauge achievement! :-( (see my previous post for video of Sir Ken Robinson on this topic!)
On a happy note: I came across this site earlier this week, and given the historical theme in the class, found it to be very interesting. It even has a page on the Timex-Sinclair computer I brought to class earlier this term - not to mention the Commodore Pet and Trash 80! :The Obsolete Technology Website!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
For tonight I will only put up this video, similar to the Ma and Pa Kettle (enjoy, Ben!) More to come later!
OK, back again...
Japanese Zero was an interesting film, for many reasons. The methods used for teaching was the main one, however, I also found it interesting for its historical value. Here is a photo of a P-40 (this was at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo in Michigan - used in air shows) and a Zero (taken at the RAF Museum in London, UK) from my collection (aircraft, and in particular WW II aircraft is a interest/hobby of mine, I routinely drag my wife to air museums). Can you recognize them?
Friday, March 19, 2010
This week we heard three interesting presentations and engaged in some good discussion – good job by all! I will touch on a few points from each in this week’s blog post.
Kaiser Report (revisited):
Reading the full report and hearing Lana’s take on it revealed much more than simply the amount of time kids spend on media. I will comment on a few items. One item of interest is that TV viewing is not decreasing as we often hear; it is just that kids are not watching it ‘live’. I understand this, since I do the same. I usually record the shows I want to watch so I can skip the ads (a benefit of technology as far as I am concerned!) and watch on my schedule. Another positive finding was that reading and physical activity has not dropped, although more physical activity would be of benefit when we hear so much about obesity problems. While reading books has not decreased, much media use requires reading as well – although a different type of reading, so do kids read more in total? The amount of multitasking is understandable as well. Most, it seems, involves listening to music or TV and doing something else. Listening to music is something I think many people do while engaging in other activities, I don’t see that aspect as anything new. Finally we see the move to cell phones – mobility, as the Horizon Report pointed out, is the new wave.
The role of parents is important in terms of media consumption. Parents who put some controls on media use have children who use media less, and have better grades. While parents have influence, many do not regulate media use of their children. As was mentioned in class, it could be because they do not understand the media themselves, a symptom of a generational divide. One troubling trend is that more devices are located in kid’s bedrooms. For years, parents have been advised to keep computers in ‘public’ areas of their homes and to discuss computer (media) use with their children, yet this message does not seem to be having an impact. This trend again points to the importance of modeling and teaching ethical and appropriate use of technology in schools. The report writers are careful to not make any cause and effect pronouncements, a good thing. Do kids who are getting lower marks and ‘getting into trouble’ do so because of technology use, or are all three symptoms of some other problem? The results of this study provide some insight and are interesting, yet, like any statistical study, the results must be carefully weighed. For example, in the media diary, students mark off when they use a media type for 15 minutes in any half hour – does this mean that 15 or 16 minute use appears as 30 minutes in the results? The study does prompt thought and more questions.
Thwarted Innovation: This article contradicts many recent studies that show huge growth in online courses, especially in post-secondary, but in secondary as well (examples: Sloan Consortium & Canadian Council on Learning). However, as we know, changes in educational technology have been taking place rapidly. Today (Friday) I attended a talk at the U of W by a researcher from the University of Central Florida. This university has about 53, 000 students – third largest in the US and online/blended learning is very popular. Another ‘muddy area’ is the definition of eLearning as Roman pointed out (ah, definitions again!). To many it means online learning, but according to the Canadian Council on Learning, it refers to any use of digital technology for learning, be it face-to-face or online. One conclusion the article’s authors reached was that online learning would not increase until the pedagogy changed. This is born out in many research studies, including the one I was involved with. There is agreement that teaching online is NOT the same as face to face. One of the problems with online learning, especially in the early days (and perhaps in secondary schools here in Manitoba) is that teachers try to move their face to face course online, which is generally not successful.
The aspects that stick out very clearly in this report were described clearly by Roland. The language is similar to many other reports from the US (but not peculiar to the US), the influence of business is abundantly clear. It seems that the only reason schools exist are to prepare good little workers. I have discussed this in other blog posts, so that is all I will say about that. The other thing about the report that comes across clearly is the attitude. It seems that the only thing that can spur change or convince people to buy into any idea is to rely on emotion, in particular, fear and pride. I love watching the Daily Show and Colbert Report because they point out how ridiculous this is; yet news networks and both ends of the political spectrum use fear so often. I often wonder how much could get accomplished if people would actually sit down, discuss rationally and try to understand one another. In many of these polarities, the differences are not as great as they seem.
(BTW here is Canada’s version of 21st Century Learning)
Well, this is already too long, I know I don't have to comment on each presentation, but I can't help myself! If you read all of this, I thank you and applaud your perseverance!
Late addition: just came across this segment of Bill Maher - relates to a recent firing of all teachers in a school in the US & one of the topics of the Kaiser Report: Parents!
Yet another late addition: story today on CBC: Survey says Canadians like PC more than TV.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I am swamped in marking, so this will be brief!
First off, I want to explore the idea of theory, which was touched on in the chapter I presented. Educational theorizing is often frowned upon by teachers (I know, I was/am one) as not grounded in the reality of the classroom. I agree with Anderson, however, that good theory allows us to think about the big picture and use the ideas to reflect on our own practice. On the other hand, as Anderson pointed out, a theory can also blind us if we subscribe to one ‘pet’ view without question. Going back to the previous weeks presentations/articles, although I did not necessarily subscribe to the views given, I think it is still important to listen to and consider alternate theories and ideas. For example, take the The Computer Delusion by Oppenheimer. While I do believe that technology can offer much to improve education, his anecdotes (although it is interesting how he uses these stories to support his view, yet decries them as poor research earlier in the article) illustrate how NOT to use computers in the classroom. Likewise, Kirschner’s article argues that discovery learning is not advisable. Although I do not think his description of inquiry learning is the model promoted for classroom use, it does remind us of the importance of scaffolding- or guidance - in teaching, all elements of good practice. I guess my point is that arguments that prompt us to question and consider our practice critically are important to our growth as educators. Learning and teaching are messy, they are not easily reduced to theory since they are human endeavors, and humans vary, what works in one situation may not in another. Theory gives us a starting point, ideas to consider and test in the reality of our practice.
Before I move on to my next topic, I recently was watching a few video episodes of Search Engine (from TVO) with Jesse Brown. Take a look at the episodes called “The Luddite” (just funny!), and the ones about saving newspapers (related to Ben’s post a while back about changing media) and about the Internet making us dumber. The videos are funny, but make some good points for consideration.
Now, to finish, I will turn to the some of the ideas Ben presented about the move to education as commodity in the move to corporate globalization. This idea, in particular, was of interest. There has been a distinct trend, especially in the U.S. towards treating education as a business. In some cases, there is a call to have Business Administrators run schools so they are efficient producers. Students are treated like products, throw out the bad ones, churn out good little future workers. We want them to think, but not too much, after all, they might question the status quo! I do not disagree that one of the jobs of a school is to prepare students to become meaningfully employed and enjoy a good standard of living, however, many of the jobs today’s students will enjoy do not exist. There are many other reasons for education as well, like the ability to think creatively and critically, to be ethical, good citizens, to respect other people and viewpoints, to appreciate other ways of thinking and the list goes on. Many of these skills would also be important for employment, but life is more than a job. (As an aside, I came across this wiki recently where the topic of what education is for, is discussed – interesting and something I think all teachers need to think about – why are we doing what we do, teaching what we teach?). Increasingly we see the influence of business, the call for ‘accountability’ – while not a bad thing, is always based on standards set by organizations with a heavy corporate influence and tested by an external, standardized test, that more often than not reduces learning to rote procedures and knowledge. Now corporations might not all be evil, no doubt some wonderful people head up corporations, but their main goal is profit – sometimes at the expense of people and the environment – thus, we need to resist the corporatization of schools – or at least bend them to our will! On that note … I will close up my Apple computer (one of many Apple products, I own), go see if my Toyota is still in one piece and… ) enough of a rant for now and so much for brief!
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Where to start? Actually, I think I will rant about one topic, comment on another and add comments to other blog posts rather than repeat myself here…
Horizon Report: Just for your information, the full 2010 Horizon report is now available. Mike did a nice job and started some good conversations in his presentation. I am sure the discussion will be pursued on many a blog this week. In the report, the difficulties of assessment are discussed, but the big stumbling block mentioned was standards and standardized testing, thankfully a problem we do not have to deal with in Manitoba (our “standards tests” don’t compare with what happens in US schools). At least the direction assessment is taking in Manitoba allows using progressive practices. While feedback about the use of the technology – and perhaps even a portion of a grade in evaluation – is important to make, the assessment should be about the outcomes to be learned (of course, using the technology could be the outcome if it is a technology course). One has keep from being wowed by the glitz. The five trends & challenges listed on pages 6 & 7 of the Executive Summary are interesting as well. I won’t comment on them, but they are worth looking at.
Filtering/Blocking: This topic has been a pet peeve of mine for many years. Last year I wrote an anti-filtering ‘ article for ManACE. If you are interested and do not get the ManACE Journal, I can send a copy. I have heard concerns about the practice from practicing teachers and teacher candidates who go out student teaching with some great ideas, but… YouTube is blocked, Google Docs is blocked and so on. Protecting children is the reason… yet, kids go home or pull out their Smart phone and access whatever they want. Now, I certainly understand that there may need to be some filtering in Primary schools, however by the time a student reaches even grades 7 & 8, but especially in high schools, I see NO NEED for filtering. It allows schools to say “it isn’t our problem” … but it ties the hands of teachers and students. Sometimes there are bandwidth issues and streaming video must be cut down, but in those cases, at least teachers should be allowed access. In some schools Google docs and sites are blocked. Why? Is someone afraid kids might collaborate? Filtering software provides a false sense of security, it does let some ‘bad’ stuff through, but we are less vigilant if we have it. It also blocks many useful sites. As Roman pointed out, there are ways around filters. Just do a google search and hundreds of sites with instructions to defeat filtering come up. We should teach appropriate use and deal with the odd issue that comes up. If we think the problem is not ours because bad sites are blocked, then we are doing our students a big disservice. Today’s kids, as we have commented on many times, are comfortable with technology and are using it often. The problem is they do not often think of the consequences of their actions, so our solution – block the bad stuff ! It should be teach appropriate, effective and ethical use! I think I have mentioned this quote before (can’t remember where I heard this) … that the filters should be in the heads of our students, not on servers. My final point is to ask: who decides what gets blocked? An IT person? A division administrator (or worse, school trustee) worried about PR & liability? A software company? My opinion is that it is the teacher who knows her/his students, the teacher who is the professional at the front-lines. Lets stop deskilling and not trusting teachers and let THEM decide which software, web sites and so on to use to do their job! OK – I guess my opinion is clear. I will continue my ranting in response to my classmate’s posts. :-)
Check these out: poster 1 (I have linked to this before).
Here is a disturbing story about a huge invasion of privacy by school officials.
Sid Davis: Another pioneer. It was fun and interesting to watch the film. It is a look back at an earlier time, we might laugh, yet they could provide interesting discussion with students about life in earlier times and what messages it may hold for us today. You can find many of Sid Davis’ films (and all sorts of public domain video, audio and so on) at the Internet Archive site. This is a wonderful source of artifacts that can be used and remixed for free – and legally. The CBC show Spark uses audio from here for many podcasts, a wealth of content at our fingertips (providing it isn’t blocked!). The BMW videos also acted to show the power of video. A topic that should be included in media literacy, be it in a Media Studies class, an ICT course or an ELA class.
Speaking of Spark and media literacy. Nora Young interviewed a guy about software they are working on called the “dispute finder”. It is experimental & free. It is a way to alert people when claims on web sites are disputable. Sounds interesting!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
The topic of media literacy seems to be the buzzword these days. The topic has been around for years (forever?). I remember teaching such literacy in regards to advertising way back when I started teaching in 1978. However, with modern digital media, there now seems to be more urgency to address this in schools. In the rush to teach digital or Internet literacy, we should also not forget other ‘texts’, as was pointed out in the presentation last night. Internet literacy does take in some other skills, such as search techniques, however, deconstructing the ‘text’, be it the written word, video, audio or some other form, is paramount. To me, this is one of the most important parts of the Manitoba Literacy with ICT continuum. Using ICT (educational technology) may be a means to an end – learning and critical & creative thinking, but media literacy is key to interpreting, consuming and creating media of any sort. Members of Manace & MB Ed created the video below to help get students/teachers thinking about Media Literacy. It was posted to YouTube and video responses were invited. The focus is on digital technology, but it is still a nice job (at least I think so):
The next item I want to touch on is the term “Digital Native”. When I first heard this several years ago, I thought it was a useful descriptor, a way to get teachers to embrace change. However, after doing some reflection, looking at my students and reading Prensky’s work, I came to realize how misleading, and incorrect, this term is. First off, anyone born before the eighties is considered a digital immigrant. I personally was taking computer science in high school (in the early seventies) when programs were punched onto computer cards, sent to the school division office, then returned with the results. I continued taking some computer science courses in University, used desktop computers (microcomputers, remember Commodore PETS and TRS-80s?) when they entered schools and I have used them ever since, keeping up pretty well with the newest ‘stuff’. I know many other people of all ages who are very comfortable and knowledgeable with computer technology. Yet many of us are considered digital immigrants because such technology was not around when we grew up. I guess I am an ‘automobile native’ and a ‘jet aircraft native’ by that reasoning. Paul expressed this nicely in his blog when he commented that just because a kid can use a cell phone – or facebook, or download music, etc – does not mean they understand the technology, their knowledge is often superficial at best. I do agree that many young adults and kids are very comfortable with technology, can use it for many purposes, and that it has an effect on the way they interact and learn. However, this does not mean they are using it to create and evaluate information, nor using it effectively and ethically. This means that teaching media literacy is, as Denis said, critical. Perhaps putting labels on generations and generalizing their characteristics is, as Heidegger put it “ordering’, it is what humans do to help understand the world. It does, however, also create problems. If we just assume all young kids love technology, are comfortable with it, can use it effectively, then we are both delusional and can miss those who are not as savvy with the technology. Some use the digital native construct to promote the need for change in education. I say it is precisely because this generalization is not universally true and that many kids are using the new technologies without a real understanding of them that is reason to change education. I have been conducting research with a colleague in this area (related to teacher education) and a paper I coauthored on the topic is in the MERN Journal (p 50), if you are interested. Whew – enough of a rant on that one!
Another area related to the topic of media literacy is ‘digital citizenship’ – the ethical and appropriate use of digital technology. Part of this is copyright and plagiarism. These ideas are becoming real problems when it is so easy to copy and paste information; download images, video and music. Denis pointed out nicely some of the problems with plagiarism, it seems that borrowing content is nothing new, who knew that “twinkle, twinkle, little star” was so popular! A similar thing can happen now with regards to intellectual property. The digital age is changing faster than lawmakers can keep up. A recent movement is the ‘open’ content movement which calls for sharing content openly, allowing use and re-use. Many people license their work under a creative commons license. with the right to remix with attribution and share alike clauses. So, if I use someone’s photo, tweak it a bit, add some text then re-post to share (attributing the original, of course), then someone else takes that and further changes it, giving me attribution, then again … when does the work become not that of the person who took the photo in the first place? Plagiarism has been a concern in academia for years, the problem is only getting worse and is another part of the media literacy puzzle, and is confusing for students and teachers alike.
(late addition: someone put this related article up on twitter)
Well, three topics, albeit related, in this blog, I think that is quite enough! Until next week…
Sunday, February 7, 2010
The major point Heidegger is making, as I see it, is that the essence of technology goes well beyond technology… “the essence of technology is by no means anything technological”. Heidegger tells us that technology is much more than a tool – something we have discussed many times in this course. We must constantly question our use of technology and the direction it takes us “questioning is the piety of thought”. Yet, as Heidegger points out we are “unfree and chained to technology”. Not only does technology play an increasingly important role in our lives, but does Heidegger also mean that it blinds us to other ways of viewing the world – such as through the arts? This idea applies to the use of technology in society and in education, and is one we should keep in mind. We certainly talk about using modern technological tools to enhance learning. It does offer many affordances never available before, yet it goes much further. We should discuss the use of technology with our students, what are the trade-offs? How does this affect the environment and our use of energy? How does this affect our relationships? How can we use the technology in sustainable ways? How can technology enhance our learning, our thought, our connections? How do we avoid the “ compulsion to push on blindly with technology” or to do the opposite and “rebel helplessly against it and curse it as the work of the devil”? Heidegger tells us that where the danger lies, so does the “saving power”, thus we must keep the danger in sight. Again we see the importance of questioning, examining the path we are on – both back where we have come and forward to where it might lead us. Heidegger tells us that we cannot embrace technology blindly as simply a way to get things done, nor can we ignore it, we can’t just let it happen and we can’t “rail against it”. What do we do?
In a previous course (Critical Theorizing), I attempted to examine technology, and the digital divide, from a critical point of view. I came across a number of researchers who promoted a critical view of technology. Several points of view were common in the literature and echoed Heidegger’s; we could ignore the technology and hope it goes away, we could attack and blame technology for all our ills (technophobes), we could embrace it by jumping on the bandwagon and hoping for the best (technophiles, or a term I liked, used by Weaver & Grindall (1998): technomaniacs ), or use the technology in a thoughtful, critical way (‘critical technomania” – another term I liked). In the last view, we integrate the technology, but do so in a way that promotes learning, democratic values and social justice. We hear a lot of naysayers rallying against technology, telling us that Google makes us stupid, that reading and writing skills are deteriorating, and so on. The technomaniacs will dismiss such claims out of hand and carry on. I think we need to examine these claims and the research that also says the opposite, we should question all these ideas and use them to examine our practice. Once again, as Heidegger tells us “questioning is the piety of thought”.
Heidegger also talks about techne meaning the fine arts, and brings in poetry and other art forms as a mode of revealing. Our modern technology can be art and can help produce wonderful art (see the link to the YouTube video on sand art, I put in Nicenet, for example). But that is another discussion.
Finally, just for fun (if you are one of those rare breeds who appreciate the absurdity of Monty Python…) here is the Bruce’s Philosophers Song … enjoy!
Weaver, J. and Grindall, K. (1998). Surfing and getting wired in a fifth grade classroom: critical pedagogical methods and techno-culture. In Kincheloe, J. and Steinberg S. (Eds.) Unauthorized Methods: Strategies for Critical Teaching. (pp 231-251) New York: Routledge.