Archive for October, 2011

technology can no longer be ignored; sharpen your pencil!

There’s a lot of talk out there on the Twitterverse, and other digital places, to the effect that teachers have to use technology.  This statement is either painfully obvious or a complete hyperbole.  If the term “technology” is being used appropriately, then the  statement is painfully obvious; chairs, lighting, the alphabet, clothes, and deodorant at all technologies that a teacher really needs to use in the course of a school day.

I think, however, people are generally referring to digital technology and some web 2.0 / SM tools. This of course is a complete hyperbole.  This position is supported by such   statements as: teachers can no longer afford to ignore tech (sic); or it’s insane to 
ignore tech (sic); or teacher’s who are uncomfortable with tech (sic) are doing such a disservice to their students that they should retire or be forced out of the profession (this one’s paraphrased).  These statements are fairly common on such micro-blogging sites like Twitter. To these statements and others like them, I’d like to say in very general terms, “calm down, relax, and be reasonable.”

Calm down: I really like digital technology and SM but it’s still not everyone’s focus.  20% of Canadians don’t even have internet connection, Twitter is used by just 3% of the world’s population and a mere 50,000 individuals account for 50 % of the traffic (that’s ¼ of 1 percent of Twitter users).  How many of your personal followers are no longer active?  How many Twitter users have rejected Twitter?  It’s great, but digital technology is still a minority experience.  Let’s not invalidate so many people’s lives by pretending we have all marched to an omega point of technology and social experience.

Relax: it still remains to be seen if this is a digital revolution we are experiencing.  We might be in a revolution, but we might not. If most if your public discourse is in digital mediums it is hard to maintain perspective.  Will it be adopted by the majority? Right now, voices ringing with the need for digital technology are still a minority; is 
this a  revolution or is it the Bay of Pigs.  How big is this movement? Is it growing faster then the resistance to it?  Is it unreasonable to suggest even the possibility that society might actually reject SM? No one thought that Rome would fall either.  It remains to be 
seen whether SM will be evaluated as a liberator or conqueror.  At what point will digital tech fall; when will the next revolution start and what will replace the current technological environment?

Be reasonable: there is plenty of good, useful, necessary learning to do outside of SM.  We used to suggest that there was room for diverse techniques – in teaching and learning.  Some educators might actually choose to reject SM for valid reasons; is there no room for professional judgement here?

There is lots of great stuff you can do with digital technology in the classroom; however, you need to stop justifying yourself at the expense of others.  Your hyperbole doesn’t help
your position.  Whenever one side doesn’t allow for legitimate opposition to even exist there is a problem.

I use digital technologies in my class quite extensively, though not as extensively as some.  I think that teachers should explore the possibilities and decide how best to use them (even if that is be not using them).  I don’t care what people’s decisions are – use it or don’t, its up to you, after you have informed yourself.  I don’t want to ne at a point where we tell each other what must be done; how to do it; and pretend there is no other way to be a good teacher.


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