Listening to the Naysayers: Wisdom from the other side (Part 2)

4. “People are just interested in trends that are new and shiny.” Here’s an important one to take to heart. We in Ed Tech have a tendency to get excited about new possibilities when new technology comes out. We can sometimes let our interest in technology get ahead of the pedagogy, and that’s not good for students. I remember when Google Glass came out and various Ed Tech individuals were asking each other, “How can we use this in school”? That’s just silly. The technology should not be the wrong driver. We need to let the pedagogy drive our use of technology. If there’s a certain learning need or problem and we discover that a technology can meet that need, that’s awesome. We shouldn’t be looking for needs to fit new and shiny technologies.

5. “It feeds our addiction to technologies and devices.” This all depends on whether or not our use of the technology is an addiction. We need to recall that paper, too, is a technology. For centuries our civilizations were ‘addicted’ to paper. Was that bad for us? Is there something inherently more harmfully addictive about shiny paper that glows and moves? I’m not sure that there is. Nevertheless, this point brings up an important discussion, especially as these devices become more ubiquitous. Do they help us connect human to human, or do they separate us? I see that they can do both, and both very well. Again, I think its all the more imperative that use technology with learners and teach and model how to use it without losing bits of ourselves as we do.

6. “It contributes to anxiety about social connections.” Like the point above, this is truly a possibility, depending on how the technology is used. But it can do the opposite. Technology has the power to bring people together in ways that were not possible before. It has brought our loved ones closer and it can bring us closer to people we could have never even encountered otherwise. The technology also has a dark side. The online connections students make can pull them deeper in and away from the real world. I’ve seen students that can’t confidently put together a verbal sentence, but can communicate through online messaging with prowess. While that might be great for their online life, they need real-world social skills. It would be wrong of us to back away from internet technologies because of the dangers associated with it. Rather, the imperative is that we teach the best use of online communication methods, but make sure it does not detract from our teaching of real-world communication and social skills. The online world is an exciting new dimension of our lives, but it should not diminish the lives we live outside the screen.

I think these kinds of conversations need to continue and it is incredibly valuable to hear voices from a different point of view, views that cause the keen Ed Tech educators to think carefully about this new world of technologies that has the power to change us so much. We just need to be do everything we can to ensure that whatever change comes with these new technologies, it is in our students best interest and helps make them more social, educated, and connected beings.

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