I am very concerned with how technology is used and even more concerned with how technology is talked about in education. Many people will have us believe that more technology is the way to improved education. What I have seen is that more technology leads to no fundamental change in teaching.
What is even more concerning is that as technology becomes more and more “pushed” the biases of the technology will become reflected in our teaching practices. Instead of valuing deep engagement with ideas, we’ll start to value compilation of information.
Our tools reflect our goals. If our goal is to make students into information compilers, than we should continue on our merry way. If our goal is to make our students discerners of information, then we need to re-evaluate our trajectory. Google does not discern, it sorts based on popularity. Prezi doesn’t discern it adds a layer of entertainment. Twitter doesn’t discern, it removes layers of nuance. Blogs don’t discern, they give equal voice to novice and expert.
I’m not anti these technologies (use them all the time in my teaching). I am against the anti-intellectualism that pervades discussions about educational technology. It is time we stop pretending our tools are neutral instruments. There is a reason a shovel is used for shoveling. So what are our “new” technologies designed for? I don’t think deep learning and wisdom are built into the designs.
I’m not saying get rid of technology – I’m saying teach our students about these issues. Teach them to be critical consumers of technology. Teach them how the technology causes them to lose important aspects of themselves.
I’m also saying we need to stop for a minute and think about teacher use of technology. Right now, we have a lot of people saying “do”, we need more people saying “think”.