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Technology Toolkits

leamirella's picture

Deborah's point about the consumerism that fuels our need to constantly upgrade our devices was definitely true -- coming from
Hong Kong, a place notorious for it's materialistic citizens, I cannot get over the long queues at the Apple store everytime a new
iWhatever comes out. That said, I'm not sure that Deborah's consequent point about the difficulty of having to constantly upgrade
our "toolkits" to be able to use each and every new device quite stands.

We're at an interesting point in time where technology is moving at a faster pace than at any point in history. But what we some-
times neglect to remember is that rather than to work in order to use individual devices, we should really focus on being able to use
a variety as new technology keeps pouring in. This means getting to the core of how these new tools work: our toolkits should really
focus on being able to intuitively switch between different mediums as well as be able to anticipate/adapt to new forms.

Our devices are meant to be intuitive. There are designs that are made on us constantly and the
key to this type of design is to make sure that the user doesn't have to think. Sure, it takes a moment to adapt to new technology (I'm
thinking about the process in which I figured out how to use my iPad effectively) but you don't necessarily sit there and freak out
because you cannot access a device at all. I now get separation anxiety from my iPad, even though I didn't want one when they
first came out. But because I have a toolkit that allowed me to get to the core of the technology and build from there, I was able
to get used to using an iPad even though the thought of e-reading scared me at the beginning.

And that's where I think education really steps in -- we need to be able to teach students that can easily switch between devices and tech-


leamirella's picture


I think that this is the perfect time to bring in the notion of "media literacy" -- the methods of education students to use technology effectively. Like asweeney, my school had a one-to-one laptop policy that required us all to bring our laptops to school everyday. But what we didn't learn from the beginning was how to use that technology effectively and to enhance our studies. I remember being on Facebook half the time, doing things that I shouldn't have been doing, or simply just messing around on my laptop while a teacher was talking. Teaching students the how, the when, the what behind using technology is absolutely essential.

I like that you've brought up competencies -- I'd like to add "multimodal scholarship" to your list. I'm a firm believer in the ability to use different modes to present information.

alesnick's picture

cataloguing competencies

multimodal scholarship and media literacy are great additions to our scroll! With respect to media literacy, I'm wondering about conceptualizing its essence as exploration/inquiry, rather than as control.  Linking from our class conversation Tuesday about the problems with a control and command conception of the self, I want to ask here how literacy can be similarly reconceptualized, and with what effects.

asweeney's picture

I agree with leamirella that

I agree with leamirella that education must play an important role in the development of these new technology "toolboxes." Who regulates the toolbox available to a young child? Who guides the child in choosing the "right" or "better" tool ( ie book instead of ipad) during scenarios in which distractions should be avoided? I'm assuming a teacher would rather a student read a book on paper if this meant that his or her concentrations would be greater---no distraction of endless apps. When I was in middle school, the private school I attended created a policy that EVERY 7th and 8th grader MUST bring a laptop to all classes. The idea was that our school was "so advanced" that we would keep up with technology and our students would understand how to use it---the new computer requirement was a bragging right of our school, as we supposedly had better computer note-taking/ research skills ect. In reality, however, we used the laptops to play games on the internet and likely missed many important concepts because we were too concerned with the color-coding abilities of our Word documents. Interestingly, by the time I graduated this school in 12th grade, the computer requirement that had been thought of as so amazing was eliminated. Apparently, it wasn't actually doing much. This is an instance, I think, in which a school regulated the toolboxes available to students, but in doing so, the school also angered a lot of sixth graders expecting to get laptops. I wonder if technology just adds another element of life that kids judge as being in the hands of adults? How does access to technology and limits to technology created by "grown-ups" alter kids' perceptions of their freedom and power?

alesnick's picture

what does tech access teach kids about their freedom and power?

This is a fascinating question; thanks for raising it.  The story of your school's checkered adoption of laptops -- checkered by marketing, distraction, and disappointment -- is compelling.  I wonder whether the decision-makers in this case hastened to foster access before really grasping what it would mean/was for . . . and yet, maybe this is often liable to be the case, so maybe empowering the target users, in this case young students, to help shape and assess the use over time would be a helpful way to go.

alesnick's picture

getting to the core

I appreciate this gloss on the frenzy of relentless novelty that seems to accompany the flow of new and improved devices. I'm intrigued by the idea that there are core competencies that can help us move across platforms, embrace variety, and do what I am thinking of as a kind of translation.  

So: what are these competencies? Perhaps we can catalogue, even christen, some as a class.  I'm thinking of moves like: broadcast, curate, make art, market, analyze, synthesize . . . is that what you have in mind?  

I am also taken by your observation that devises have designs on us -- a nice play on the term "design." Here, too, rather than approach tech with a vague paranoia, could we be specific about these designs aimed at us, and thus disarm them?