The perpetual topic, or, #edchat for the ages

April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

“I […] believe that the technology so commonplace to our homes belongs in our classrooms as well.”¹

“Even at this late stage of their development, classroom computers are still often seen only as boxes to run fixed applications, rather than as vehicles with which we  can extend and expand our thinking.”²

“The great majority of today’s educators have little interest in classroom computing. An unfortunate consequence of this disinterest is that these teachers, many of whom are tremendously effective, are assuming that the quality of their instruction can’t benefit from exposure to new technology. We need to examine the role of technology as a tool that can help us teach the whole child.”³

“As I look at the challenges facing education today, it seems to me that we need more hackers – not just computer hackers, of course, but hackers in all areas of knowledge.”4

In going through all the unprocessed materials in the Curriculum Library, I’ve found a few interesting items. One provide the above quotes. Outside of a few dated expressions – “classroom computing” rather than “mobile technologies” or “social networking,” for example – I think it would be easy to find someone writing, blogging or tweeting these exact sentiments today. In fact, someone may have expressed these exact sentiments today on #edchat, where the discussion is on how to incorporate social media into the classrooms, and get more teachers and administrators to buy in to its use.

This is not surprising – until you realize that the book (Education, Technology, and Paradigms of Change for the 21st Century, by David Thornburg) was published in 1989. Over 20 years later, and we are still having the same arguments. The more I read, the more I weed (the collection, that is!), the more I realize that this is true pretty much everywhere:

This reminds me of a question I was asked while participating in a panel about technology in librarianship at the Unpacking the Library conference in Iowa City. The question was whether we were worried about the future – won’t social media, texting, etc. desensitize our children, and make it hard for them to interact face-to-face?

My short answer? No. I am not scared. I am not worried.

Why? Because every generation thinks that some new technology is going to “harm” the children, is going to change the way society functions. Radio? Movies? Television? Video games? Even books? All causes of concern at some point. None (at least so far), has incapacitated an entire generation.

Change is good. Sure, there will be missteps along the way. There may even be instances that one can point to and say “SEE! I told you that thinking has gotten more shallow!” But we are doing ourselves and everyone else that will come after us an unbelievable disservice to ignore change because of such anecdotal evidence. We need to do better by our students. To paraphrase a student post about her knowledge of the internet, we must adapt to change, because it affects us, whether we realize it or not.

And it definitely affects students. As educators (and yes, librarians are educators, too), we must be able to teach and model use, answer questions, and promote reflection about technology and change.

1. Pg. 8
2. Pg. 13
3. Pg. 16-17
4. Pg. 89

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