Technology Is Not the Enemy

by Race Bannon on January 6, 2011

I hear a constant refrain on many fronts that somehow technology is the enemy of true education. However, I see so many upsides to technology and how it can be used to promote more and better education. Sylvia Martinez’ post, Your Brain Might Freeze That Way, expresses my frustration with complaints about technology better than I can. Read it and let me know what you think.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ray January 31, 2011 at 10:25 pm

If I were to suggest that there is one, single down-side to electronic media, it is that it places so MUCH material in your hands that it’s almost impossible to know where to begin or to completely absorb one wonder before a hundred more come clamoring for your attention.

Of course, the media ARE new, which means we must improvise new methods of dealing with it, invent new ways to discipline ourselves to stick the main path to completion before we are lured off by the endless ranks of sirens (the old Greek sort) calling out to us in an infinity of tempting side directions. As we delve to one particular end, perhaps we should save those golden asides on post-it notes along the bottom of our monitors – come back to this site for this bit of data or that article or some other artwork.

And what a world is open to us!!! I have a Nook, which I keep by my bed. I never even registered the thing – that isn’t what I got it for – I load it with a score or so at a time of pdf files I happen to be reading. Another example: I recently ran across some sound files I’d downloaded previously but not gotten around to playing. The sounds added a great depth of interest to some of my fictional reading. I burned a CD and took it to work where I shared it with some friends and aroused an interest in them which I doubt they would ever have gotten from the original writings.

Another example: My wife and I are no longer young, but I’m impressed with her adoption of the new media. She wears her ipod to listen to music when running and working out. She very rapidly adapted to on-line banking and even asked for a laptop for Christmas last year. Charmed with a desktop of the grandchildren, she was delighted when I bought that copy of “Bejeweled” she’d been wanting and plays that and a variety of other puzzle games when I’m not home (we work different shifts).

It’s true that there is a vast amount of junk out there. Just as there is a vast amount of junk on TV (“Vast Wasteland”, anybody?) and there is a vast amount of junk amongst the great heaps of older printed matter. And junk conversation, for that matter.

I find myself in my own reading increasingly getting up from my chair to go to my computer to look up some obscure bit of data that helps my understanding, deepens my appreciation, or just plain makes sense of something. No doubt, if I had to dig through a pile of reference books, I’d likely do less of that – and consequently learn less.

And, after all, much of what counts as “education” is exactly the process of digging through a great deal of junk to look for the gems – and learning how to recognize the junk from the gems when you see it!

2 Race Bannon January 31, 2011 at 11:03 pm

What a beautifully written and thoughtful comment. I love what you wrote. Thanks!

3 Hugh Chatfield March 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Agreed. I would go further. I would love the technology to assist me in laying down what we consider to be the “main path” through this vast array of information.

Nothing new about this. Vannevar Bush in his 1945 Atlantic Monthly article – described the notion of a memex. One of its features is that an individual could create a “named path” through the vast store of information about any particular topic. This path could be shared, and direct followers through the vast array of material. See my Facebook page M/X – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6143423812&v=wall

BTW – I am closing too very quickly on age 70 – I think this whole thing about “older people” being unaware of “new technology” is a bunch of horse apples…. so kudos on keeping up.

4 Race Bannon March 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Hugh, thanks for your comment. I agree with what you’ve suggested. I also agree many older folks are keeping up with technology just fine. I love it when I encounter others like myself who value the pursuit of a lifelong education.

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