The Rush To Embrace Technology
From an interesting review by Dexter Palmer of a new book, Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture, by Diana Senechal:
“The sections of the book on education are by far the strongest. Through a series of incisive analyses of pedagogical practices, Senechal portrays an absurd, technology-addled educational environment in which teaching has become disconnected from learning, and methods alone are thought to be sufficient to educate, irrespective of whether those methods are invested with any meaning. She questions the often commercial-driven adoption of technology in the classroom when it comes without any real consideration of whether that technology is in fact a benefit to students, or perhaps even a liability.
“For example, she considers ‘clickers’—hand-held electronic devices distributed to students that allow the teacher to poll the class by posing a multiple-choice question and instantly aggregating the responses. Such devices might assist learning for some students in some instances, but technology has a pernicious habit of convincing people that it is always useful in all instances. The result in the case of ‘clickers’ is that lectures often become workshops, and complex ideas that are best relayed through continuous, uninterrupted speech are broken down into fragments that are needlessly difficult to synthesize—the better to allow students to use their clickers”: bit.ly/LFV9cD.
Very interesting—I realize that until now I had indeed uncritically accepted the idea that clickers were a great addition to the classroom. And maybe they are—but I appreciate Senechal’s effort to get us to slow down and examine critically the use of technology in education, instead of rushing to embrace whatever is new and shiny.