Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Matter of Balancing the Good with the Bad . . .

Personalization. Interconnectivity. Creative capabilities. Interactivity. Immersion.

These are the good things.

Distraction. Self-obsession. Irrational thought. Inability to focus. Feeling overwhelmed.

These are the bad things.

And, it turns out, that, just like every single thing in life that is wonderful and delicious and full of promise (fast cars, ice cream, having children, the entertainment industry, organized religion), there is a long list of pros and cons when bringing technology into educational settings.

This isn't to say we shouldn't do it. I'd be the LAST person (just look at my growing stomach) to say we should do away with ice-cream because people occassionally overeat and get tummy aches. But I also would be the last person to say we should avoid ever talking about or acknowledging the occassional indigestion that can result from misues of ice cream.

And so, I am here to proclaim bravely, in this last blog for a course on the Web 2.0: Technology can give me heart burn, in a variety of ways:

1. People turn first to their affinity groups. They read/respond to blogs that are like-minded to them; they choose news sources that affirm what they already believe; they watch youtubes that have been created by similar demographic groups. In essence, it is VERY human to use technology to simply pat ourselves on the back ("see, I WAS right after all") rather than probe into more painful democratic deliberations with various perspectives.

2. I don't care how many scholarly articles proclaim that students mostly use the web 2.0 for educative purposes. The truth is, I know that I don't. Not yet, anyway. I use Facebook to space out and take a BREAK from thinking. I look at a youtube video because it is supposed to be funny or entertaining. We need to spend LESS time trying to say that young people using technology are doing it WELL and MORE time equipping young people to use technology for purposes beyond texting and facebook.

3. In the K-12 setting, introducing Web 2.0 tools IS TRICKY. Students that are not academically motivated BEFORE getting a laptop, will not turn academically motivated AFTER getting a laptop. This means that, despite my best intentions to create relevant, authentic, interesting activities using Internet, my "low level" ninth graders would inevitably skirt around the firewall and get to facebook and "inappropriate" rap music the minute they opened the laptops. We need to train preservice teachers to deal with the COMPLEXITY of CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT ISSUES that WILL arise when using these technologies in the classroom. We need to teach them how to scaffold, how to support students to make GOOD decisions. We need, in essence, to be truthful rather than insisting that technology is a panacea that will make unmotivated students suddenly intensely focused on teacher-directed activities.

Listen, I love ice-cream. And I love technology. And I could have spent this entire blog taking about the sweet, creamy goodness that is the Web 2.0. But, frankly, I think a lot of the articles we have read in class already do this. And, I don't know about you, but I think being realistic will do a lot more for technology integration than just adding another cherry on top . . .

1 comment:

  1. Totally agreed. It's nice to have teachers in the conversation about technology (YOU!) who have actually tried using it, and see what the real issues are going to be: that at when it comes to working with actual kids, they'll continue to have the same issues as they've always had in classrooms, and that, compounded with new technologies, means we need some problem-solving going on. I think you're right to put the concerns of classroom teachers at the forefront, because otherwise I suspect those voices would be left out of the conversation.