Can there be too much technology?
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