Tuesday, June 8, 2010
As participants in the CSU Writing Project "Teaching with Technology Institute" we spent this week looking at ways to bring technology into the classroom. The obvious question then, is why? Why technology? What can we do with computers that we couldn't do with paper, pens, and a chalk board? What do we hope to accomplish with technology--it's not just a matter of getting students to use computers (most of them already do that on their own) so what is the point?
As working teachers and pre-service teachers, we all come from different places in terms of our comfort with technology in the classroom. After spending a week learning about technology and working with kids in the "Save our Stories" program, what are your hopes for the future? What do you think technology might add to your pedagogy? On the flip side, what are your fears? What scares you most about the thought of turning your classroom over to computers?
There is no great loss without some gain, and no great gain without some loss. So which is it? Many of us recoil at the thought of losing good old-fashioned "paper and glue" books and cringe at the thought that penmanship will soon be a completely lost art. Others embrace the possibility of a paper-free world and have already largely given up our pens and pencils. What will you miss most in a digital world? What will be the biggest advantages? Is it a net gain, or a net loss for humanity and art?
Recently there were dueling essays published in the Wall Street Journal which argued on one side that the internet is making humans smarter, and on the other that it is making humans dumber. Nick Carr has made a bit of a name for himself arguing that technology is ruining our attention span, destroying our creativity, and basically eroding our capacity for focused deep thinking. Clay Shirky on the other hand argues that technology has brought us to the dawn of a new age of inter-connectivity, collaboration, and information-sharing the effects of which will be even more profound than those brought about by the invention of the printing press. Most of us are probably somewhere in between these two extremes, but where do you stand? Is technology opening up the cognitive possibilities of the human mind by giving us infinite information at our fingertips, or is it leaving us lost in a fog of overabundant information and unfocused multi-tasking?