What is lost?

I have recently read Neil Postman’s “Technopoly”. First of all, great book! The book outlines arguments he has made before regarding the dangers of technology and how technology does change our culture, and usually without our questioning it – most of the time we applaud the oncoming of new technologies. Postman’s main idea is that while there are clear benefits with technology, there is always something lost. Even with the invention of the printing press – clear positive impact – yet the ease of print made everyone their own theologian and the tradition of religions was lost. Also, no longer did people have remember – and access to knowledge could easily be misinterpreted as wisdom.

Anyway, my point is to ask what is lost with education technology. I believe that many times teachers and professors include too much information now that it is so easy to put it into a powerpoint, or that teachers no longer consider how to make representations more concrete – instead, they think about how to make it more “flashy” using technology. Some of these are more obvious and have direct effects on learning. However, less obvious are things like cultural changes where students do not value, or are incapable of engaging in face-to-face interactions.

So my question is: “What concerns must we think about when incorporating educational technology that we are probably unaware of?”

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One Response to What is lost?

  1. Sterlace says:

    The biggest issue I try to guard against is the loss of the process.

    I believe that educators who use power point (or similar presentation technology) can do so in a way that enhances the old methods, without losing anything. But it requires a lot of care that we don’t make greater assumptions about both the interest level and the expertise of the students. I am always concerned that my lectures will deserve a sharp criticism I once heard leveled at my favorite textbook: That it’s fantastic for somebody who already understands the material, but not for the neophyte. The more polished the presentation, the more likely that criticism is appropriate.

    In the high school science classrooms that I have observed (and hopefully in my own), these presentations allow for a more dynamic lecture, with more animations and less time spent at the board with our backs to the class. I use them for lab instructions, and they have greatly reduced the number of lab groups who can’t figure out what is wrong with how they’ve set up. In other words, it’s a great supplement. But almost no learning takes place when the class is one long slide show. Technology has to be a tool, and not an end unto itself.


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