Friday, September 9, 2011

Thoughts on Technology in Education

As part of the class I'm taking this semester, Introduction to Educational Technology, we were asked to set up a blog to use for reflection on various readings throughout the course. I already have this blog, Online Learning & Technology, so I will be using this blog to post my reflections.

In reflecting upon the two articles this week, Beyond Technology Integration: The Case for Technology Transformation (Reigeluth & Joseph, 2002), and Of Luddites, Learning and Life (Postman, 1993), I found that I agreed with both articles in some areas and not so much in other areas.

Reigeluth & Joseph proposed that technology "might allow us to transform our teaching methods in ways that could result in quantum improvement in learning..." (2002). The authors showed some of the "key markers that distinguish industrial-age and information-age systems" and give examples of how these changes are requiring us as educators and learners to change or adapt to a new learning paradigm. Just as the "industrial age ushered in new transportation needs...," the "information age as brought in new educational needs--to prepare all learners to problem-solve, take initiative, use metacognitive skills, work well in teams," etc. (Reigeluth & Joseph, 2002). Reigeluth & Joseph give a very positive outlook on technology's ability to transform education and learning.

On the other hand, Postman, in Of Luddites, learning and Life (1993), argues that true learning is not about how quickly the information can be accessed or how much information can be accessed, as those issues were dealt with long time ago, but rather it is more about learning to get along with each other, learning to live as part of a community and live a useful and productive life. Postman goes on to quote the summary in the first chapter of Robert Fulghum's All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, "share everything, play fair, don't hit people, put things back where you found them, clean up your own mess, wash your hands before you eat, and of course, flush." (Postman, 1993). Postman sees learning and education as the means to teach students about life and sees technology as more of a distraction rather than a means of transformation.

I find that I fall somewhere in between these two viewpoints. I believe that the information age has changed the way we view the world and the way learners learn and technology is very much at the forefront of these changes. Can technology really bring about the transformation in education as described by Reigeluth & Joseph? Not entirely. Even with technology there are students who will be unmotivated no matter what an educator does to motivate them, there are and will be students who don't have the capabilities or the support needed to achieve all of the necessary necessary steps.

There were two points brought out by the authors that I feel are worth mentioning, as I've experienced in my own life or have seen it the lives of other students/workers and can see where it makes a difference. The first point involves "fellow learners" or "peer-assisted learning and collaborative learning." (Reigeluth & Joseph, 2002). When I have others to truly collaborate and learn with, learning becomes easier, more abundant, and more effective. Learning with others brings about a synergy that isn't as readily available when a person is trying to learn on his/her own. Technology can assist in bringing about peer-assisted learning and collaboration. Unfortunately, at times it can also detract from this type of learning.

Another point the authors brought out is the use of different technologies and methods of delivery should be based upon the learning requirements. The examples they gave were of "learning to perform a procedural task, perform a complex cognitive task, vs. developing deep understandings" all have different learning requirements, therefore different technologies or methods of delivery should be used to accommodate the learning requirements. (Reigeluth & Joseph, 2002).

Although I wouldn't agree with Postman's overall outlook on the usefulness of technology in education, I have to agree with his conclusion that technology cannot solve all of the problems in the world or in education and even though it brings many advantages, it will also bring along disadvantages, or as stated by Postman, "technology is always a Faustian bargain. It giveth and it taketh away." (Postman, 1993). We see these ideas played out every day in society. We all know that technology has not solved society's problems of crime, abuse, hunger, famine, flood, wildfires, depression, or unemployment. And even though technology has given us more time, it has also taken more time in other areas. For example, I know a young woman who has learning disabilities and has decided she isn't smart enough to learn to read, take care of her children, do household chores, keep a budget, or keep a job, but she has decided she can play video and computer games and has no problem spending her husband's earnings and the money she gets from the state to ensure that she has games to play. She can't see the value in using the money to ensure they have a home of their own, food on the table, clean clothes, or anything else. Additionally, rather than help with the household and take care of her children, she chooses to spend time playing the video and computer games. Has technology resolved the issues? No. In fact, in this situation, it has only added to the issues.

We must remember that technology is only a tool. When it is useful and can make a difference, then use it; when it detracts or distracts from, than don't use it or use something different.

Postman, N. (1993). Of Luddites, learning, and life. Technos Quarterly, 2(4). Available at:

Reigeluth, C.M. & Joseph, R. (2002). Beyond technology integration: The case for technology transformation. Educational Technology, 42(4), 9-13. Available at:

No comments:

Post a Comment