Technology changes everything!

In continuation of a conversation on Scott McLeod’s blog, I posted the comment below.  I repost my comments here for my own “note taking”.  I am hoping to write a much longer piece someday about technological literacy and posting my own words here serve as a way to keep track of my views on the issue.  Also, I think those of you who read my blog regularly might enjoy getting involved in the conversations.  Here’s what I wrote to Scott:

WE DO agree that education is key. We also agree that the person causes the harm, not the technology.  However, what I am claiming is that the technology so changes us as individuals and us as a society that our “internal moral/ethical” beliefs are modified.
I do not consider myself to be a strict post-modernist, but find the socially constructed nature of morals to be pertinent here.  If social media is part of our social experience then it must have an effect on how we construct the world – including our beliefs of what is right and wrong.  These effects may be subtle, but just because we can’t notice or see something doesn’t mean they aren’t actually there (atoms for example). :)
NOW, PERHAPS that argument doesn’t ring true for you.  I am willing to wager that you believe new technology is redefining what it means to learn.  If new technology can redefine an abstract concept like “learning”, why can’t it redefine other abstract concepts like “ethics”?
SO WHEN we critically examine technology, we must not only consider how to use the technology appropriately, but also how the technology changes things at very deep levels, even when we use it “appropriately”.
IN THE USA TODAY example, yes people hurt people.  However, we must ask why the person who did the hurting was willing to hurt.  I’m willing to bet that their inhibitions and general moral character have been affected by their use of social media.  Perhaps you might argue they were using the social media “inappropriately”, I would say that for the person who shared the video the definition of “appropriate” has been eroded by social media that encourages us to “share everything” rather than use restraint.
BECAUSE NEW technology affects us so deeply, we MUST prepare our students to think critically about technology (and this involves using and analyzing its use).  We no longer need worry about 1984, but we might want to start thinking about how our technology is shaping our Brave New World in unexpected ways
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