Questioning Technology – An introduction

I use technology a lot in my class.  I have students on twitter, ning, gmail and google apps, and others they choose to use for their projects.  While I find technology fascinating and so do the students, we do not often question the negative sides of technology.  So to end the school year, I am engaging students in some conversations about the “dark side” of technology.  Below are some discussion questions from today and the “point” I was trying to make.

1) Why would technology have a greater impact on society than science?

While science and technology have an intimate relationship, technology is by far the greater force with which to be reckoned.  Technology is used by individuals 24 hours a day.  Even scientists don’t “do” science 24/7.  Because of this pervasion, technology has the power to shape our society and even us as individuals.

2) What are some problems technology cannot help us with?

What this question really boils down to are ethical/moral issues.  Technological advance tells us we CAN do something, but technology gives no direction about whether we SHOULD do something.

3) How does technology cause new problems?

Every technology comes with a side effect.  Some are obvious, some are hidden.  For example: cars help us get around faster, but the pollution caused by the combustion engine leads to environmental concerns.  Also, the internet has access to incredible amounts of information, but also leads to “false wisdom” where patients question their doctors’ treatments because of “something they read online”.  Being educated is one thing, assuming you have the background knowledge medical school provides is another.

4) What things limit the development of technology?

Because of the relationship between technology and society, people are a major factor limiting technology development.  If there is not a need or a want, the technology likely won’t be developed.  Money is of course another limiting factor.  Also, previous technology limits new technology.  If we had not first harnessed electrical technology, our “gadgets” would never have come about.

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2 Responses to Questioning Technology – An introduction

  1. Aaron Eyler says:


    I’m interested to hear their responses. I’ve been kicking around some similar ideas, but I haven’t brought it up to my kids yet.

    Let me know how you guys make out. Best of luck!


  2. jerridkruse says:

    Some of the students quickly pick up on the concerns and are able to apply them to new technologies – these are the highly reflective students who maybe just haven’t been asked to reflect about these specific ideas before. However, I also have a fraction of students who struggle with the abstractness of these ideas – I am essentially asking them to criticize what they use, but don’t “see”. Then I have a small group who thinks I am simply wrong. :) I like this group the best – they are the ones who need to hear these messages the most. I make it very clear to them that I am not trying to convince them of some Truth, but that I am trying to get them to consider the possibility that technological effects are not all positive. They certainly cannot say I don’t like technology as they use tech often in my class, and post a lot of brainstorming about this topic to twitter: Follow the #ssci tag to see what they have been saying.

    If you did this with your students, I could forward you some materials I use – your students would probably handle these ideas better as they are older and able to abstract better. However, they might hold onto their naive ideas more strongly.


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