Do we really need an app for that?

Can there be too much technology?

Technology has increased dramatically in the last 10 years.  It seems that today there is an “app”, widget or a gadget for every situation. From using your iPhone to scan in your ingredients to your online shopping list as you cook to having an electronic voice getting more irate as you continue to ignore their instructions to ‘make a u-turn’ while you are in the outside lane of the M25.

For example, the use of technology in education has come a long way in a short space of time. I remember when it was innovative to use a hand drawn acetate on OHP, long before the first digital projector in a classroom, to present your powerpoint presentation. These days it is completely plausable for students and learners to use their mobile phones to text responses to a digital wall in the classroom rather than raising their hands, and having work uploaded to a blog-site rather then handed in with ink blotches and crumpled corners. But the question is, does technology become more of a fashionable accessory than practical?

A worry for me is the seemingly constant need for this generation to be online accessible. In my former role as an FE teacher, the amount of work that seemed to be involved with retaining students attention away from texting under the desk or instant messaging on Facebook took so much lesson time that the actual amount of learning time was reduced significantly. At home, my 5 year old is so au fait with the PC that he ordered a laptop from Amazon without my knowledge (the fact that he got it £50 cheaper than my best price is neither here nor there!) and is able to reel off url’s that he has found interesting. Where is it going to stop?

I am currently trying to develop as much online presence within the WEA Eastern region to promote the organisation on one hand, but i see the importance of involving digital technology within the education strand. However, and this is the key aspect for me, it has to support the current provision rather than replace it. Too many institutions seem to be relying too heavily on technology taking over and placing a huge emphasis on it rather than concentrating on the key concepts of education. Technology used correctly is a wonderful tool and has opened up so many avenues that before seemed like dead ends. It offers a huge differentiation tool in planning, it enables us as educators to reach learners and students that otherwise would not be able to engage in learning (social learning, accreditation learning and personal).

For all the wonderful aspects technology brings, the downside can be extremely worrying. Does tweeting, instant messaging and texting deprive individuals the common and neccessry skills of communication? Are literacy skills sliding due to automatic spelling correction, lack of actual handwriting skills and correct and proper grammar? Is the need to save money, create more time in our daily routines/jobs at the expense of the above?  These technologies are not only being used in education but of course in other business organisations throughout the world. But the question is:  does it create an element of social skills dislocation?

Is technology substituting real life and communication?

By Adam Bracher

Organiser WEA Eastern

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3 thoughts on “Do we really need an app for that?

  1. I completely agree with what you have said, i saw an article on the news yesterday saying how the use of mobile phones has changed the way we interact dramatically over the past 20 years….i do worry for the youth of the tomorrow as too much can be more of a danger than not enough.

  2. First of all we need to get all our lecturers to use a modern projector to present their pictures instead of showing 35mm transparencies on old ‘slide’ projectors. The difference in using a modern projector over an old ‘slide’ projector is huge. Maybe you could offer a helping hand by scanning their pictures in for them and if necessary, a quick basic introduction to PowerPoint.

  3. I know what you mean about technology substituting real life and communication. Just taking a walk through town these days means dodging people who are constantly looking down at their mobile devices and not noticing where they’re going (usually on a collision course with me!) At least there’s still the option of seeing the person you’re communicating with if you have a webcam, so the “social” side of things is complemented by the ability to see someone’s facial expressions and / or body language (and considering that makes up about 80% of how we interact with someone that’s a very necessary thing). I think it’s inevitable that spelling and grammar skills will slide but that would happen anyway given the nature of language, and slang becoming mainstream eventually. Maybe we shouldn’t be so uptight about this and should embrace the inevitable simplification / Americanisation of our language – now there’s something to provoke a response!
    Personally, I love technology and the wonderful things it enables us to do that were simply unimaginable even as recently as 5 years ago. It’s been a game changer for us educators and learners / students. Online learning for a start (whenever you have a spare bit of time, the desire to learn and the luxury of an internet-enabled computer in your own home). Quick searching (googling or binging) to find the answer to absolutely anything you want to know for another. Instant directions from one place to another if you’re lost and have a smartphone on you with geotagging / mapping facilities. This list goes on and on. And long may it continue to do so.

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