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Technology: Beneficial or Detrimental?

JBacchus's picture

I really didn't want to feel unoriginal or predictable and write this blogpost on the presence, not use, of technology in our lives, but for some reason ever since getting the iPad, I've been particularly sensitive to this topic. I was trying to write on something else, but that just wasn't happening I suppose.

It first started in class on Thursday, when I realized no one was paying attention to the iPad introduction, save for a few people. Most were preoccupied by the iPad, and even during subsequent discussion, the preoccupation with the iPad maintained.

About five or so hours after class I was in a training for my placement. The trainers asked us to take down a web address. I immediately texted the link to my friend for both of us, and the girl behind me took a picture of the slide with her camera. Two of the trainers commented, one remarking that she had expected us to take out pen and paper, and the other about our almost unorthodox use of technology for something so simple.

I had been struggling on not writing about technology up until I was watching the superbowl a few hours ago. Two of the first few commercials (I don't recall what they were for, but I know one was for a car), including Twitter hashtags at the end of their commercial.

All these things got me thinking, not about our use of technology, but rather it's presence in our lives, and whether it's taking over. I thought about the baby who expected the book to work like an iPad, and the cat who was playing a mouse chase game on the iPad.

Is this culture's current use of technology essentially good or bad? Does it benefit us by globalizing, allowing for access of knowledge and information? Or does it hinder us, by taking over our lives? Does technology keep us from being "human", making us hide behind our computers (such as in class Thursday, when nearly everyone was preoccupied with either a computer or an iPad).

If technology can be used as a pedagogical tool, such as a computer or iPad in class, then how can we make it, as educators and students, that this technology does not take away the "humanity" of the classroom? How can we make it so that technology does not depersonalize the classroom? This is something that I'm really struggling with in this class. I feel the distance, particularly in such a large class, and the technology almost furthers this distance. What can we do to make technology play a role in our classroom rather than having a controlling presence?

Before Tuesday's class I plan to look up on this. Possibly google "role of technology in classrooms". Seems a basic step, but maybe it'll be helpful in lessening the distance.


alesnick's picture

I wonder

if a formulation different from either/or could serve us better here.  Today in class we will use McLuhan's "tetrad" as a way to consider the impact of a technology.  See if you think it does a better job of dealing with the dynamic and evolving and contextual character of tech experience.  To your concern that tech is "taking over:" what changes if we entertain the idea that it already has . . . but in many ways that have become naturalized.  

I appreciate your focus on our controlling it rather than it controlling us.  Here too I wonder if there is a third term.