Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Technology in the classroom

I have recently watched two fascinating documentaries about technology in schools and in our lives. The first was an episode of Frontline that suggested we are becoming far less able to reflect and think deeply about anything as we multitask more and more. It followed researchers at Stanford testing people who were very skilled at multitasking as they tried to do well on discreet tasks-- and failed miserably compared with people who focused on that one task. It also interviewed students from MIT and other schools who wrote brilliant sections of papers, excellent paragraphs, and choppy, disjointed whole papers.  Last, it interviewed students, including English majors, who did not read books, ever.  Even if they read chunks of assigned text, they did not take the time to read a book in their lives.
The second documentary was about Quest to Learn, a school in NYC that uses gaming and computer games to teach. The students also design their own games, and the school's philosophy is that gaming is learning:  you tackle problems, gain knowledge, and use it to achieve measurable levels.  That is an excellent model for learning, with built in assessment!  The students work collaboratively on building games, and most of their subject matter is incorporated into technology platforms in some way.  Fascinating ideas.
Technology, from before the time of Mary Shelley till now, was and is both a boon and a curse.  We respond and adapt as a species to these changes, and they shape who and what we are.  Revolution in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, and Iran (and perhaps Cuba): driven by the communication and organization made possible by social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Makes me want to join.
The end of the era of reflection, reading, and contemplation?  Makes me want to retreat and withdraw from the technological age.
Time will march on with or without me, of course.  The middle path:  contemplative use of technology; technological assistance with shared reflection and joint action.  These are perhaps where the future must lie.

No comments:

Post a Comment