I needed to start this post with this video. It is a video that resonates for me from the early 1990’s.
Today, I saw that it is still applicable. Although what has changed is the medium that is being referred to. Back then (pre-web) we talked about television and its negative influence. Today we have missed a beat and moved on. Somehow we are caught up in a debate of the good of technology and how we need to prepare our children for the future. The debate is focused on trying to ensure we are closing the digital divide, ensuring everyone has access and making sure education is as technology filled as possible as this is what ‘speaks’ to the digital native (a term coined by Marc Prensky) or the Net-Gen. This is THE way to engage? At what point did critical literacy take a back seat?
I question Web 3.0, and the focus on individually targeted content. The idea of a personalised web catering to your likes/dislikes? It is about marketing and reaching a consumer! If the internet is only focused on what you TAG as a like, and then this is used as a way of targeting you with this/similar information, doesn’t this lead to less exposure to diversity? What about the other information? What skills are then required to move out of this limited web and into the web of exposure and unlimited ideas. I am somewhat skeptical of WEB 3.0 for this precise reason. I feel it aids a blinkered view of the world and not an expansive view of the world that WEB 2.0 espouses. Web 2.0 seems democratic while WEB 3.0 has connotations of ‘Big Brother’. Who decides what you like and how do they receive the information to make this decision? The corporate connotations and possibilities are highly questionable.
All this points to reasons why we need to be discerning about information and the choices we make on the information journey.
To add to this, I will share why I journeyed on the thoughts above. Yes the thoughts above were a tangent based on a moment of inspiration while at the post office today. However, that is how my mind works…
…while lined up at the post office today behind a queue of fifteen people, I watched the dad ahead of me with his toddler in a pram. He had a portable DVD player and when the child expressed dissatisfaction he pushed the player in front of the child and pressed play. Eventually the child was pacified and just watched the film. I don’t know about you, but I felt horrified! This child wasn’t even two years old! All I kept thinking was if this is how the child is treated now, then what will the child expect when they reach school? Will the child demand entertainment and immediate gratification each time they complain? Does the entertainment then have to be targeted and individuated to suit this child’s ideas of what he/she finds engaging while disregarding other ideas/stimulus? Is satisfaction and immediate gratification all that technology offers? And why is the immediate world not enough?
I felt incredibly disheartened. I felt sad for both the child at not having enough and the parent at not being able to be present.
What this moment highlights to me is that technology is not the answer to our questions and sometimes it is far more simple than this. This child would have loved a story face to face by his dad, not even a book needed to be involved… that is all.
In education, I extend this also. Technology is merely a tool and not the answer to good teaching and learning!
How could we possibly determine the future when it comes to technology? Why do we take such a blinkered view of constantly espousing the merits of more and more technology without really thinking about benefits or possible pitfalls? What is relevant today in the technological landscape is redundant tomorrow and from this point I maintain that technology is merely a tool and not the focus. It helps achieve some goals but those same goals can possibly be achieved without technology. It just takes a creative mind to work out how!