Topic: Technology

Technology: A Double-Edged Sword

Technology is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, electronic communication is easier, faster, more various in form, simpler to track and to store. Digital means of discussion and lecture provide convenience for student and instructor alike. Perhaps most importantly, internet-driven forms of student-student and student-instructor contact cater to the strengths of many members of the current generation of first-time college students.

Yet I have failed as an educator if I do not draw my students outside of their comfort zone, even as they draw me out of mine. Technology is a tool, but it is not the only one; and it should not become a crutch. Especially for those of us who teach disciplines in which reflection and introspection are primary, it is perhaps more important for us to find ways of incentivizing time for students to unplug, to face themselves undistracted by the noise of the media in which they are typically immersed, and to face others, giving them the gift of unhurried time.

I am eager to use learning technologies to an increasing degree in the classroom; however, I will do so while simultaneously charging my students to take periodic fasts and retreats from our high quantity, often low-quality culture of electronic communication. They have more to learn from a weekend without email, Twitter, and Facebook than I have to teach on an average PowerPoint.

Going Public, Web-style

Today begins the strange adventure of bringing my professional life to the web. My hope is that this will provide a helpful forum for connecting with students and fellow professional educators and researchers. However, this tool could become a diversion from more tried and tested forms of pursuing and sharing knowledge. Time will tell.