Humanity Vs Technology – A “Quote-Unquote” Debate #edcmooc

Humanity vs Technology

This is my digital artefact submission for the E-Learning & Digital Cultures MOOC (EDCMOOC 3 : Nov-Dec14). No, I’m not referring to the image above – that’s just a visualization. I am referring to the presentation below.

I was initially planning to prepare a powerpoint-based video on The Internet Of Things – a subject that fascinates me, but while searching for material to use there in the content, I stumbled upon some powerful quotes on technology. When I dug deeper, I found a wealth of quotes related to differing views on the impact of technology. The quotes bring out beautifully the debate on technology vs humanity and utopia vs dystopia – a debate that is as old as recorded history itself, and eventually, I have ended up building building my artefact on this theme – it is called a “Quote-Unquote” Debate.

And why a presentation featuring quotes ? Well, there is no simple answer to this. However, what I would like to say is that as mankind has evolved, so has technology. From the day and age of the wheel to the age of space travel, we certainly have come a long way. Yet, the viewpoints on technology differ. The dystopian view would be that technology tends to make slaves of us humans, rather than being masters of the technology created by us. The opposite view would perhaps be that we owe our very progress and existence to technology. Are either of the views wrong ?

Not in my view. Both are equally valid. Too much of a good thing can be bad. But then, when we speak of humanity falling prey to technology, we really cannot generalise. In my view, technology is there to make life simpler and more advanced. It all depends on how we use it. Becoming a slave to technology is also a choice, as is using it judiciously. That’s my view, and you, the reader, are welcome to yours. Neither of us would be wrong. The debates on Humanity vs technology have always been there and will continue to rage long after you and I are gone. These quotes, however, bring out the essence of the debate, and I will let the slides speak for themselves.

To view the artefact presentation you have three choices below. Choose the method that suits you best.

Authorstream Embedded Presentation Version

View the presentation while enjoying the audio track. You have full control over navigation through the slides. The slides will advance on clicking, and you have the ability to go backward or forward.

Slideshare Embedded Presentation Version

View it as a simple, no-frills powerpoint presentation, without any audio or animation. You have full control over navigation through the slides. The slides will advance  on clicking, and you have the ability to go forward or backward.

YouTube Embedded Video Version
View the presentation as a video. However, the video will progress as per the preset slide timings and you will have no control over the transition of slides, and depending on your reading speed, you may need to pause the video on some slides in order to read the text fully.

 

Hope you have enjoyed the presentation. Please feel free to leave your valuable comments, suggestions and feedback using the Reply option below.

Thank You !

When Not to Use Technology: 15 Things That Should Stay Simple In Education

An Article By Saga Briggs

Most of us know better than to use technology for technology’s sake. The Shiny New Tech Syndrome is taking the world by storm, and with the added pressure of finding new ways to improve educational outcomes, we try our best not to be tempted. But there are some things–certain methods, activities, and tools–we still assume can be enhanced with a little computational flair, when really, if we stopped to question ourselves, we’d find them best delivered the old-fashioned way.

The benefits of integrating technology into learning are extremely well-supported, and range from increased motivation to enhanced cognition. Experts and non-experts alike have seen blended learning enhance students’ communication skills, digital fluency, engagement, independence, critical thinking, and comprehension in general. You’ll find extensive scientific support for blended learning with a simple Google search.

One study, conducted at Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK, provides an example of this kind of support. Over a two-year period, researchers collected over 300 student opinions on blended learning based on its use in audio lecures, seminars, discussion boards, and wikis. Students found the blended learning approach very flexible and, in many cases, preferable to traditional face-to-face instruction.

They cited flexibility and support, motivation and idea-sharing, interaction and explanation of ideas, communication and teamwork, and project leadership skills as benefits.

In another study, researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder measured the impact of multimedia technology on project-based learning. In completing the projects, which were built around real-world problems, some students used a variety of technological tools, including video cameras, digital editing, and Web authoring tools. Students who used the tools were found to be more collaborative and vocal within their project groups. They also scored higher on communication and audience awareness, presentation and design, and content comprehension. Teachers, meanwhile, found themselves more likely to serve as a facilitator or coach, rather than a lecturer, when their students used the technology.

There are countless studies confirming the educational benefits of technology in learning, and they represent student bodies across the world in a variety of disciplines. But what happens when technology is mis-used in education?

Learning From Computers vs Learning With Technology

If we’re going to integrate technology into education successfully, we need to understand the difference between learning “from computers” and learning “with technology.” When students learn “from computers,” the computers essentially serve as information delivery systems. In this capacity, technology simply presents a student with basic knowledge. Learning “with technology,” by contrast, means using technology as a tool that can be applied to a variety of goals in the learning process. The point is, educational technology has advanced far beyond what can easily be measured by standardised tests, and if we do not take advantage of this fact, then we are doing our students a disservice.

But there are barriers to adopting this kind of attitude. Typical issues include conservative teaching practices, lack of teacher training, not enough instructional preparation time, and inadequate access to educational software and hardware in general.

A study surveyed 60 Australian teachers and found that, even when teachers had technical skills, they were reluctant to implement technology into their lessons. Teachers were not convinced of the benefits of computers in education, and supported very limited roles of technology in learning.

Much of this appears to lead back to the “learning from” versus “learning with” distinction.

In a survey 2,170 U.S. school teachers, two groups of teachers emerged. The first group believed that computers are “tools that students use in collecting, analysing, and presenting information,” while the second group believed computers are “teaching machines that can be used to present information, give immediate reinforcement, and track student progress.” The beliefs and instructional practices of a further 4,083 middle and high schools teachers were examined, with the finding that teachers who viewed computers as tools rather than teaching machines were more likely to use technology in their lessons.

The sooner we all realise how valuable technology can be as learning tool, the sooner we will see a positive return on our investment.

“Technology must be used for a practical purpose,” says Ben McNeely, a student at North Carolina State University. “That is, taking the fundamentals and technology learned over a semester and applying it to a final project, where creativity and uniqueness is required and rewarded.”

Using technology for practical purpose, and not for the sake of using technology, must be the clear objective. Mastering the functions of the latest apps and gadgets is not an educational achievement in and of itself. What matters is not how many tools a student knows to operate, but how well she uses them to enhance her understanding of the world.

When Not to Use Technology

  1. When it creates harmful shortcuts.

Some math teachers ban calculators, thinking students will use them to solve basic problems they should be able to solve on their own. Some English teachers don’t allow Spell Check. Edtech presents us with a similar challenge: If we give every student an iPad from the age of 5, will they ever learn to use an actual library? Will they develop healthy imaginations? Exercise all five senses on a regular basis? This is something to watch out for.

  1. When it undermines deep learning.

Experts have found that educational technology is most powerful when used as a tool for problem solving, conceptual development, and critical thinking. But if integrated inappropriately, it can backfire in a way that undermines all three skills. Be sure you are using technology to enhance the way students think, not just the way they memorise facts.

  1. When it undermines basic learning.

Technology may in fact be quite intuitive for today’s younger generations, but it shouldn’t replace the basic skills our society values. Take the calculator example again, for instance. Even in our technologically advanced age, it’s not socially acceptable to have to whip our your iPhone to calculate a time zone difference of, say, five hours. We still need those basic skills.

  1. When it decreases interaction.

At its best, technology is an incredible social tool, connecting people around the world. But it can also reduce the chances of interaction and the learning experiences that come with it. When you can look up the right answer on Google, you don’t get to benefit from hearing a friend suggest the wrong answer, or hearing a teacher discuss why it’s the wrong answer. Humans should learn from one another, not just from computers.

  1. When it reduces the chance of failure.

This is a big one. Mistakes create learning experiences. Without a struggle, we oftentimes end up with shallow learning and false confidence. Don’t use technology to create perfect students.

  1. When the appeal is purely aesthetic.

Don’t fall into the trap of the Shiny New Tech Syndrome. Just remember: If it looks better, it doesn’t necessarily promise more effective learning, and it doesn’t necessarily align with your curriculum goals.

  1. When it contributes to information overload.

Part of technology’s educational appeal is that it allows students to learn more, faster. But it’s worth stopping to ask ourselves whether or not this is true. Information overload will always limit learning, no matter how much information we are exposed to and how many tools we have to process it. Do not assume your students will be able to take longer tests just because they are encountering a greater volume of information.

  1. When you don’t have the time to integrate it.

If you’re not going to integrate it correctly and fully, don’t integrate it at all. Believe it or not, the way you implement technology into your lessons is just as important as the decision to do so.

  1. When it doesn’t support connecting and sharing.

Don’t have your students blog if you’re not going to let them publish what they write. If they can’t share it, it’s not blogging–it’s learning to type.

  1. When it doesn’t teach students about technology.

I remember playing Number Munchers in primary school. It was a stimulating relief from worksheet-style multiplication tables, but it didn’t teach me a thing about computers. There’s so much to learn nowadays in the form of coding, design tools, and advanced gamification–why wouldn’t you kill two birds with one stone?

  1. When students have already mastered the task.

Multi-modal learning is undoubtedly one of the strongest types of learning, but avoid scenarios in which you’re not adding anything to the experience by incorporating technology. Does your French class really need to be studying the vocab they’ve already learned with virtual flashcards? Sounds like a waste of time to me.

  1. When it hampers communication.

Don’t get me wrong–studies have shown that technology seriously enhances communication. Anonymous discussion boards do wonders for shy students. What I’m getting at is the fact that

  1. When it limits self-expression.

Sounds impossible considering all the creative possibilities technology affords, right? Well, think again. Some of the world’s best writers, artists, scientists, and thinkers produce their finest work with the simplest tools. Don’t let technological inspiration replace real world inspiration.

  1. When it can’t illustrate a concept.

Sometimes it’s just more effective to illustrate a concept using the raw materials around you. Plus, environment is important: students remember where they learned something, which helps them remember the thing itself. A computer screen is not a memorable environment.

  1. When technology isn’t relevant.

What! Technology not relevant? How can it be possible? It’s very possible. Don’t make your students present projects using Power Point if they can illustrate their topic more creatively (and accurately) with a mini-field trip on school grounds, or a scientific experiment, or an old-fashioned Sharpie sketch. Let them use whatever method of presentation is most effective, and save the technology lesson for when it counts.

“The fact is that education has already been automated,” says Temple University educator Jordan Shapiro. “Tests, quizzes, textbooks, and Powerpoints are all products of a technological way of knowing the world. They are all ways of objectifying knowledge. My enthusiasm for edtech stems from a hope that it will teach us to handle technological ways of knowing more efficiently and interactively, using gadgets and devices.

However, this is only an advantage if it means that teachers can get back to what they do best: educating instead of disseminating and assessing.”

About The Author

Saga BriggsSaga has built her writing and editing career at Tin House Books (Portland, OR), Night Owls Press (San Francisco), and Dancing Moon Press (Newport, OR). Along the way, writing education and education reform have become two of her primary interests.

Saga has taught and tutored writing at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, and has researched and written extensively about cognitive models of writing pedagogy. She earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from Oberlin College and lives in Portland, OR.

You can find her on Google+ or @sagamilena.

This featured article is originally published by the author on informED and is reproduced here with the express permission of the author. I would like to express my gratitude to both, Saga and informED for allowing me to share this wonderfully insightful article on Rajiv’s Motivation Zone.

Are You A Fan Of #edcmooc #edcmoocrocks ?

edcmooc rocks

For many people out there, including myself, EDCMOOC was a unique experience. I was among those who did the course in 2013, and through the course ended in December, EDCMOOC never did end for me. Many of us became hooked – that’s what Connectivism does to you.

If you love EDCMOOC and all the activity that goes with it, we invite you to join us on http://edcmooc.rocks – an unofficial fan site of EDCMOOC, made by EDCMOOCers for EDCMOOCers – past and present. The site admins would be familiar to most of the former EDCMOOCers and include people like Ary Aranguiz (@trendingteacher), Madhura Pradhan (@maddiekp), Dimitra Kapnia (@dkapnia), Sandra Sinfield (@Danceswithcloud), Monica Huang (@monica_yaya), Whitney Farmer (@farmer_whitney) and Rajiv Bajaj (@rajiv63 – that’s me !)

Feel free to join up there – we have made it easy for you by providing several social media log-in options. Do let us have your news, views and comments. And for those blogging their ideas on the course, may we also request you to share your posts on this site using the Submit A Post option ?

The site is far from complete yet, having been set up just about a week ago, and though there is still a lot to be done there, we have made it online so that we can catch the action there also, as the course progresses. We have also tried to make available there some resources for the people currently enrolled in EDCMOOC3, which include a Twitter feed of #edcmooc, a blog feed of EDCMOOC from University of Edinburgh, some embedded Pinterest Boards related to EDCMOOC, and embedded Padlet wals featuring the artefacts submitted by participants of the previous runs of the course.

In the resources section we have tried to make available some useful resources and links to reference material, and also, downloadable files of all videos featured in the course. This will particularly be useful for people in countries where access to video sharing sites is not available. We will also make available there the downloadable video files of the weekly hangouts, along with their audio conversions, soon after the hangouts take place. If you would like to share any more resources and links there, please share them with us by adding a comment here, or by sending a tweet to @edcmoocrocks – the Twitter handle being used by us for this site. We have also created a Facebook Page for this site, and invite you to “like” us there too !

In the Tools & Tips section we will feature useful tools that participants can make use of while pursuing the course, along with embedded tutorials wherever possible.

Any suggestions for improvements and enhancements to the site are more than welcome !

Discovering Your Ignorance #EDCMOOC #EDCMOOCROCKS

This post was published by me here, earlier this morning

education

Discovery Of Ignorance

The more we learn, the more we discover about the extent of our ignorance.  This is an undeniable fact. Till the time one does not try something new, one has no idea how much he /she does NOT know about it, and yes, it is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

Take the case of EDCMOOC, for example. Going by the post, many people come here with the notion of discovering what e-learning is all about, and the first thing they realize is that this course will not teach them anything about e-learning – a fact which is mentioned in the course introduction as well. The introduction also states that it is an invitation to view online educational practices through a particular lens – that of popular and digital culture. So many participants, like me, come on board out of sheer curiosity.

It is only when you are on board that you begin to ask yourself …

Hey ! What is this course really about ?

What ? No Lecture videos ?

What ? No Weekly quizzes ?

Are they serious ? I mean, do they really want us to get social and thrash out our ideas in the public spaces ?

How on earth can tweeting and using forums help me to learn ? They’ve got to be kidding.

You mean creating a blog is actually going to enlighten me on what digital cultures are all about ?

And if one answers those questions to oneself in all honesty, that’s when the extent of your ignorance begins to dawn on you. One begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel, only to later discover that the light was always there, and it was the tunnel itself that was an illusion. Yes, that line is borrowed from an anonymous quote – it is not my original.

tunnel light

The Tunnel Of Ignorance

The more you experiment with the suggested methods, the more you will discover that it is a whole big world of EDCMOOC out there that is vibrant, lively and happening. There are people out there, interacting with each other at any given time of the day, and this is made possible because digital spaces have no time zones, no time restrictions, and someone somewhere in the world is making an important contribution, be it on the discussion forums, on twitter, or facebook, or elsewhere in this vast classroom known as the internet.

EDCMOOC is an experience. It is all about Connectivism and Social Learning. It is about discovering knowledge in the digital arena. It is about discovering yourself. It is much more than discovering about Utopias, Dystopias, Being Human and all the other terms that one discovers in this course. Connectivism is the driving force behind EDCMOOC, and what better example of Connectivism can I give you than this site itself – a creation of common ideas of people who “met” on EDCMOOC, stayed connected even when the last run of EDCMOOC was over. That is what EDCMOOC is capable of doing to you, if you allow yourself to be sucked into this journey of discovery. And trust me on this – if you let yourself be pulled in without resistance, you will discover vistas of knowledge and learning whose existence you were not even aware of before becoming a part of EDCMOOC. It will then be clear that it was always the tunnel of ignorance that was an illusion. And like me and the rest of the admins on EDCMOOC ROCKS, you will continue exploring on this journey of discovery of our own ignorance.