In one of my instructional technology courses this week, there was a prompt on the discussion board asking us to view the following video: “The Machine is Us/ing Us”. The question prompt was,“Are we teaching the machines or are the machines teaching us?”
As much as I love technology and learning more about Web 2.0, it bothers me when educators act as if it is the Holy Grail of Education. Yes, there are many advantages of integrating technology in instruction (and I’m not going into that here), and it should be something that all school districts make a mandatory practice, but I believe that we also need to be careful and realistic about our expectations. Don’t get me wrong–Web 2.0 and its technology are beyond amazing! What it can do for us in our personal and professional lives is almost limitless, but let’s not forget the real focus here: the humans!
Anyways, here’s a copy of my response:
The characteristics of Web 2.0 have changed how we view the process of learning and the way, we as educators, teach. As Wesch pointed out, text is no longer linear. Ideas and concepts are no longer linear. The explosion of technology, media over-saturation, and the amount of information and knowledge we face everyday have drastically changed our lives. It has changed the way we think, act, and interact.
Web 2.0 has shifted the public from the consumer mindset to the “omnivore” mindset (as I like to call it); it is a cyclical process where we produce content from content we consume. Its tools make it easier for the layman to access and create material without having or requiring the extensive background knowledge to do so. The simplification of these complex processes makes it seem as if the machines are taking on a life on their own, and hence, teaching us.
However, I believe it is important, especially as an educator, not to fall into the trap of believing that technology can do everything for us. Yes, technology can make many processes easier for us– it can dramatically cut down our paper workload, perform several administrative tasks, and help students become more creatively engaged with their learning tasks… but technology is a tool and just that. If a carpenter wants to build a house, he must know which tools can help him with the job, and how to use them effectively to achieve his end goal. The carpenter’s not going to look at his hammer and expect it to get the job done on its own! It is the carpenter who builds the house, with the help of his tools.
Likewise, technology can have great effects on the learning and teaching processes. And it does… if it’s used properly by both the instructor and student body, and with the understanding that it is the human who makes the difference, not the machine.