This week in #EDTC400 we discussed a wide range of topics related to the evolution of the internet and technology, how it has changed over the past few decades, and the ways in which is it used in both the past and present. With being born in 1999 myself, technology has always been a part of my life and I haven’t know any different. To me, it’s hard to imagine living my life without it. This is not to say that I am addicted or obsessed with technology, but we are currently living in a world where technology is intertwined into everything we do, and by everything I mean EVERYTHING. Technology has made life so much easier, as we can now carry these small devices in our pockets that replace phonebooks, maps, dictionaries, credit cards, and so much more. We can be granted access to information in a matter of seconds that would have otherwise taken much longer. We can connect with people around the world, stay up to date with the lives of those near and far, and of course, share what we are doing as well! All of these advancements have changed the world, yet not all these changes are positive. While technology does provide us with so many amazing opportunities and connects us in many ways, it also plays a huge role in causing conflicts and ultimately tearing us apart.
A (Brief) evolution of modern Internet
The early 1990’s marked the birth of the “www”, essentially being recognized as the dawn of the internet. From this point on, the internet grew at a rapid rate. This growth is well representing in Digital Information World’s “History of the Internet” timeline. As illustrated in this timeline, by the year 2000, huge developments had taken place, such as the launch of Yahoo and Google search engines. Entering the 21st century, things continued to take off, with the early 2000’s being responsible for the introduction of WordPress blogging, Facebook, YouTube, and later Twitter. Needless to say, as the years went on, the internet and technology in general advanced at a rapid rate, brining along with it a number of benefits and concerns. As highlighted by Neil Postman in his article “Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change” , for every development or advancement in technology, there is also some form of corresponding disadvantage. Additionally, these disadvantages are not evenly distributed, therefore benefits for one often leads to harm for others. Postman goes on to identify three other considerations to be taken into account in regards to technological change, some of which will be mentioned later on in this post.
is technology all it’s cracked up to be?
This birth of the internet and rise in technology has led to what is referred to as “mythinformation”, which is essentially the idea or belief that having technology and communication systems will lead to a bette world. In my opinion, to believe that technology is the answer to all of the world’s problems simply is not realistic. In fact, many would argue that technology causes more problems than it solve. The following points highlight some of the many ways in which I feel that technology has and continues to cause conflicts:
- Not Everything You Read Online Is True: The internet and it’s contributors have a way of making people see what they want them to see. For example, this past week a very controversial video was shared online which depicted a group of white Catholic school students from Washington taunting a Native American Elder. This immediately caused on uproar online, with critiques jumping in to share their outrage, thoughts, and opinions. Days later, The Atlantic posted an article titled “Stop Trusting Viral Videos”, which identified another side to the story in which one of the white students said that they were the victims and simply tried to defuse the situation. Whether or not there is truth to this statement, it is important to recognize that it is easy to fall victim to biased information posted online. Another clear example of the internet spreading inaccurate information is the amount of fake news that is shared online. For a closer look at these occurrences, check out this article titled “False news stories are 70% more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than true ones”. Advancements in technology have not only increased the amount of fake news found online, but have also make it more difficult to detect.
2. Technology Can Take Over Our Lives Without Us Even Knowing It: For many people, including myself, we like to think that technology is a tool that exists for our use and control. After all, we do choose when we use it, how we use it, and why we use it…or do we? Consider social media platforms and why we use them. Of course we use them to stay in touch with people in our lives, share photos, and stay up to date on the latest gossip, but is that all? As we discussed in #EDTC400, companies behind these popular social media platforms have the power to manipulate users in many ways. Take Snapchat for example, which is founded around the concept of replacing text messages with photo messages. As the app progressed, it introduced things such as best friends, streaks, and snap scores. While for many people this seemed like a fun little addition to the app, the goal behind these add-ons are much more complex. By creating these different elements to the app, users feel compelled to use it more in order to maintain those streaks or increase their snap score. Instead of going on occasionally, users are now using snapchat countless times throughout the day, often opening the app automatically without realizing the control it has over them. This is just one of the many examples of how technology can take control of our lives without us even recognizing it. I myself never considered that there was an alternative goal behind these apps, but that goes to show just how powerful technology can be. Consider how the first thing many people do when they wake up in the morning is check their phone, or how most people refuse to leave the house without it in their pocket. Not only have we become dependent on technology, but it has taken over our lives in more ways than we could have ever imagined. “Does Our Technology Control Us?” is a great article that provides a look at the many ways that technology has taken over our lives, as well as ways to disconnect. Returning to Postman’s “Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change” , technology is a powerful tool that if we let it, can completely take over our lives.
3. Technology May Connect People, But It Can Also Tear Us Apart: Many of us would say that one of the things that we value the most about technology is its ability to connect us to others. We can now text, talk, video chat, send pictures to, and stay close with others all because of technology. This has allowed for us to form new relationships, as well as stay connected with those we truly care about. With all this being said, not all aspects of technology have worked to bring us closer together, but have actually caused us to grow further apart. In Sherry Turkle’s TedTalk, “Connected, but alone”?, she discusses the implications of technology on relationships, stating that even though we are constantly connected, we are hiding ourselves from each other. We have come to a point in time in which our relationships are no longer natural, but are only desired if we can control what we say, when we say it, and to what degree we engage with others. Turkle refers to this as “The Goldilocks Effect”, in which we don’t want to be alone but we also don’t want too much of each other. The truth is, we want just enough of each other in our lives so that we don’t feel lonely, but not too much that we reach a point in which we are uncomfortable. Reaching this balance is something we can control with technology and therefore we become even more dependent upon it. Additionally, technology protects us from that feeling that no one is listening to us. When we post online, we know that it is being read or seen by someone, which leads to us to feel like we matter and that we never really have to feel alone.
While this may be a comforting feeling, being “with” others online does not mean that you aren’t alone. For example, “Here’s How People Say Google Home and Alexa Impact Their Lives” is an article that identifies how nearly 75% of people with these devices say they have become a part of their daily life, often feeling like they are talking to a friend. The truth is that they are not talking to a friend, they are talking to a piece of technology that does not feel emotions and cannot relate to the experience the person is going through. Instead, these people are learning to isolate themselves from human contact and replace it with technology. Yes, they are forming relationships, but I question whether a relationship with a piece of technology can be considered comparable to that of a real person.
The influence of technology on education
As we know from taking #EDTC300 and now #EDTC400, technology has has huge influence on the way that world looks at education. Technology has allowed for us to do things in education that we otherwise would be unable to do, such as taking courses online, connecting with students and educators around the world, accessing information at the click of a button, and the list goes on. There is no question that technology has opened many doors for education, but as I have mentioned above, technology cannot be the answer to all of the world’s problems and therefore does not necessarily improve education under all circumstances. It is important for educators to understand how and why technology can be used in the classroom. Here is a look at two great models that can and should be used when considering how to integrate technology into the classroom:
- TPACK: The TPACK model consists of 3 major knowledge components, including the content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technology knowledge. Essentially, this model illustrates that the goal of educators should be to reach a middle ground in which all 3 knowledge components are addressed and integrated into the approach of bringing technology into the classroom.
SAMR: The SAMR model consists of 2 enhancement concepts, substitution and augmentation, which enhance technology with no or very little functional improvement. The model also contains 2 transformative concepts, modification and redefinition, which go above and beyond the the enhancement concepts in order to redesign task or create new tasks that otherwise could not be possible.
While these two models differ in several ways, they both provide a system for integrating technology into the classroom in the most effective and beneficial ways possible.
In addition to understanding how to integrate technology into the classroom, it is also important that we as teachers understand why we are integrating it and the implications that technology in the classroom has. As educators, we can not ignore what goes on online and therefore must be both aware and responsive to what our students find, working to ensure that they do not receive misinformation or if they do, knowing how to respond to this information in the most responsible and accurate ways. As highlighted throughout this blog post, online issues are everyone’s issues and although they may be difficult to address, it is important that we do just that to ensure that students are prepared and knowledgable about the world they are living in. I am in no way saying that technology is evil and needs to be banned, but there are certain precautions that should be taken to ensure safety and accuracy! The following video offers some insight into the way students view technology. I find it important to recognize that while there is so much out there on the internet that children don’t know, they truly do know a lot! This raises the question of whether or not children’s knowledge on technology makes the job of the teacher easier or more difficult? Check out what these students have to say!
I would like to end this post by encouraging all of you to reflect upon the ways in which technology has benefited you in your life, as well as how it has potentially made things more difficult. In addition to this, I would love to hear what you think in regards to how to ensure that we as teachers are staying on top of technological advancements in order to provide our students with the support they need to make responsible decisions and understand that while technology is a huge part of our lives, it is not the only part that matters.
Thank for reading!