There will be no “last word” on how technology affects our society, and as a result our kids, education system, etc. Every new app, new device, new way to create a prosthesis or synthesize a formula has potential impact on the world, so as long as we make new things, there will be no finality to the conversation.
I would love to say I am a casual observer of the effect, but I am clearly not. I am a parent of technology-users, I am a product (in terms of learning), a consumer – my life is directly affected by the ability to use technology. Many things would be much more inconvenient for me, whether writing this article or conducting my banking without going to the bank.
Before I go any further, I am going to cite three folks who are absolute GOLD when it comes to this conversation. Consider following them on Twitter, because while their viewpoints are not all the same, they are resonant, credible and poignant.
Jordan Shapiro’s (@) column today makes me think about the technology conversation. It can be found here. In short, Shapiro expresses concern about Sherry Turkle’s (@) position on modern technology, which is that modern technology is not a surrogate for true conversation and connection.
What strikes a chord for me is that Turkle said the same thing Shapiro is saying about technology when she was a young advocate for the adoption of technology. Is it really just a conversation that moves from, “Hey, the kids are alright” to “Hey, the kids are not alright?” over the course of 30 years? Danah Boyd (@zephoria), the author of “It’s Complicated” may also promote the tenet that digital connection is the connection in this day and age, and in many ways reinforces stronger bonds for young people. Danah also reports the experiences of young people who have experienced the extremely damaging power of those connections when peers turn on you.
(And Danah, if you do read this, I love your Twitter banner right now! For everyone else: It’s all R2, R4 and R5 astromech droids with an R7 tucked in the bottom right hand corner. What’s an astromech? R2-D2 from Star Wars is an astromech. But I digress…)
That probably depends on who you speak with. Now in my mid-40s, I have observed first-hand the problems students incur when using technology unfettered and undirected. I have also observed the ease with which people can complete the process-oriented pieces of life that previously consumed the life of a high school student and parent. So, more than trying to take an adversarial position in any direction, what I need to tell educators working with any student is this: Every position in this conversation is important. Sherry Turkle has experienced and grown with changes in our culture and society. Danah Boyd has lived experience and has researched first-person how technology is affecting the culture of young people (who by the way, will generally become older people). Jordan Shapiro is enmeshed in how tech, simulation and gaming are changing the dynamics of interaction.
All three of these folks have a unique perspective and focus in the tech realm, and all three (as well as many others) have important things to share. Continuing to have thoughtful and meaningful discussion about how tech is affecting our society, our young people and in turn our ability to educate those young people academically and socially is probably the most important part. So please, read away.
I also like to share articles through LinkedIn and Twitter on current technology events that are shaping our world. Feel free to join the conversation at:
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