“Come in, sit down, smartphones out, internet on . . . ” – not the kind of classroom greeting I am accustomed to – but it does make sense after all. This subject is called Convergent Media and has a focus on creating, aggregating and curating online and digital artefacts, which will likely lead a large portion of our cohort to major in Digital Media. In only one lecture we were encouraged to use platforms such as Twitter, WordPress, Google+ and more.
Once my surprise had subsided I got thinking about the role of technology in contemporary Australian education. One of the main differences I have noticed, in my one year + one day at UOW, between high school and university is how much more comfortable and adapted the latter is to the use of technology in society. High school, in contrast, took a more rigid approach whereby many of my teachers warned myself and my peers of the negative affects of social media and the likes on our brains, our concentration, our self-esteem, our social lives and more.
This source navigates the fear of technology back to the time of Socrates, who feared that the revolutionary technology of the time, paper, would have a negative impact on peoples’ brains as they could write down information to remember it and wouldn’t have to store as much in their heads, thus “weakening the mind”.
The same paradigm occurred with the invention of the printing press and the internet, yet we all survived it. This pattern suggests society treats advances in technology with general fear, but if the use of technology in classrooms follows the path of its predecessors it could become common practice around the world, despite the negative attitude (from some circles) toward it.
In that sense, it wasn’t until I arrived at UOW and my BCM tutors and lecturers grew my enthusiasm for blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the ways in which these platforms can enhance our education, our experiences and our employability, that I felt using social media was actually a benefit to my life, and not a detriment.
This is not to say that the increased use in technology does not harm society in ways which my school teachers warned, but even if the benefits do not outweigh the detriments, there is enough to harness a strong debate, as suggested by the screenshot of my google search above. Below, debate.org suggests a significantly large proportion of people believe the use of technology in schools would be of benefit to students.
Given the heavy role which technology and social media play in society nowadays, I believe it is quintessential for children, teens and young adults to be exposed to new technologies if they are to succeed in a dynamic, ever-changing world. Being taught to operate technology with control, and safely and efficiently from a young age could help reduce the alleged negative side effects.
Regardless of the debate, having been the ‘quiet kid’ in the class since kindergarten, the notion of tweeting to ask my teacher a question instead of having to put up my hand and project my voice in a lecture theatre of +200 is fine by me :).
Please comment with your views on technology in schools!