Will Technology Save Education? Will Technology Save US?

After watching A Vision of Students Today, my first thought was skepticism; the idea that technology will save education is a bit extreme. It is a tool, just as the chalkboard is a tool. It is what you do with those tools that make a difference. It is the people that know how to reach students, whether it is through technology or other means, who will be impactful. Can education be done better? Sure. Is education completely broken? I don’t know. Here we all are, educated; and it was done the old fashion way. I just felt the video was a little preachy and idealistic. Like it is the educational systems fault that students don’t open their textbooks or do all of their reading. We talk about how student-centered learning is about students taking responsibility for their learning, well that includes cracking a textbook.

The video, The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube and the Politics of Authenticity, gave me a much different reaction; I felt sad. As much as we look at each generation and say THIS generation is lost, lazy, disengaged, and narcissist, it really seems to be true—for every generation. We see an ever growing “whatever” attitude. People are having more difficulty in finding their authentic self when we are more and more disengaged and fragmented. We need others to learn who we are, and without those connections we do feel lost and unsure of ourselves. I see a generation screaming for attention. Not necessarily because they are entitled or narcissistic, but because they are starving for connection to others—their families, their communities, their cultures and societies. In previous generations roles and rules were clear cut. Even if you did not like or agree with them, you knew your place in the world. Now we must search for our place.

I never thought I’d be one of “those” people that blame technology, but I do consider technology’s role in this loss of connection between people and changes in societal roles. Not that I am saying changes in roles is necessarily bad; as a woman I am grateful for changes in roles over the decades. What I see now though are families and societies so engrossed in technology that there are fewer connections between individuals. We need those connections with others to know who we are. So what do we do? We use technology to try to make those connections. We reach out through social networking and YouTube videos to anonymous masses to connect with others. Watching those videos or students hiding in their closets making video blogs, awkwardly talking to the camera, desiring a response for their efforts—it made me sad. Will technology help them find their authentic self? Will it save them? Will it save US?

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