Issues in Education (Reflective Blog 2): Technology and You

Posted: October 5, 2011 in Education
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Whilst I fully and wholeheartedly agree with the first three writers’ views and propositions, I envisage one problem that may arise when readers view these articles as ingratiating themselves with the use of technology in the classroom, i.e. seeing humans as beholden to technology. Such interpretations has spawned opinions from people like Marshall (in Hayes, 2004) denouncing technology as hype and many teachers giving technology ‘blanket denials of relevance’. With such titles like “Learning with Technology or Learning from Technology”, the great divide is made more pronounced, the differences perpetuated further. I personally think that we have missed the woods for the trees when we keep segregating technology and education that way. 

Technology has been present since time immemorial – from Stone Age to Print (thanks to Gutenberg) to the more recent ‘Pencil to Pixels’ – and it is ubiquitous. Technology has evolved and progressed but with the kind of debates we’ve been raising about the use of technology in education, it seems, we humans have devolved and regressed.  The onus, on us as educators, is not to ask the question ‘Where is education heading with technology?’ but rather, embrace the question with the answer, ‘With technology, we’ve been going somewhere and now, with emerging technologies, we can start to see where we’re headed.”

Underlying this antagonistic perspective is, perhaps, fear – the fear that technology will take away what was once ours – our jobs as educators, our relationships with students, colleagues, family and friends; the fear that power is wrested from our hands and the computer, not the educator, is in control.  Hence, I feel that technology needs to be put in its rightful place so that we, as educators, can re-claim our rightful roles in the education arena. When one confronts the subject that is feared head on, one’s fear, hopefully, dissipates. What is this rightful place for us educators with regards to technology? Well, I would like to use the terms hardware, headware and heartware to exemplify this.

Grabinger and Dunlap (1995) gravitate to the use of Rich Environments for Active Learning (REALs) that are information-rich, imbued with interactive-learning in order to spur students to dive into the waters of deep learning to discover the gems hidden in their field of enquiry and not tread on the surface of shallowness. Johassen et al (1998) proposed the use of computers as Mindtools to engage learners meaningfully as designers in knowledge production, not reproduction. Churchill (2006), drawing on the constructivism fundamentals espoused by Vygotsky and Piaget proposed a holistic student-centred learning design with technology embedded in its framework. 

All three writers agree that students are knowledge builders and technology facilitates this process of knowledge construction. Hence, technology is seen as the ‘hardware’ that dispenses the information. For the students to assimilate this information and convert the data to knowledge, the set of instructional designs needs to be given thorough ‘headware’ from the person designing it (the educator). To take the writers’ point even further, I might add that with the correct ‘heartware’ input from the educators, students will hopefully be able to convert the knowledge into priceless wisdom – taking what he/she has learned within the boundaries of the school to the borderless world beyond. 

Hence, the relationship between technology and the educator in the 21st century is symbiotic. And when we can embrace technology as an extension of our voice and intelligence in the classroom and evaluate honestly and fearlessly its influence in both our personal and professional lives, then we will be able to effectively harness the limitless potential of this (UN)intelligent tool. 

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