I have enjoyed the first week of this course but I have found some parts challenging. Maybe that shouldn’t be a ‘but’ as one of my objectives here was to get out of my comfort zone. The films were entertaining and somewhat thought provoking and I liked the pace of the readings. I felt I was eased back into academic reading, something I had not done for nearly 10 years, and essentially given a reminder of how to approach it with the ‘Ideas and Interpretations’ section. The forums and links posted by other students on G+, Twitter and Facebook were very helpful in getting my head around the analyzing of the films and articles but I have decided it is time to stop following them for this week. The 3 to 5 hours a week was spent on the first day and I am back at work now so time is becoming an issue. I am learning how to dip into the social media and grab things that sound interesting without feeling the need to read everything (an impossibility), though this throwing away of my completest view of study is taking some getting use to.
A brief reflection of the films.
The two that I enjoyed were Inbox and New Media. But we weren’t here to enjoy them as such. Bendito Machine III is a heavily dystopian and technologically determinist view of technology. I actually found this film annoying and obvious. Technology was the big evil, creating waste and isolation, stagnation of thought and indoctrination. In contrast to this Inbox presented a utopian, feel good, happy ending film with the hint of a balanced take on technology (when the bag breaks and the man thinks he has lost his new love). Here technology is seen as a tool, making connections possible but not negating the desire for face to face contact. Thursday seemed to me to be most balanced of the four. Although is was essentially a view of all-encompassing technology verses a persistent nature, the final message was one of a least co-habitation if not actual harmony. I found New Media difficult to watch at first but ultimately liked this mood piece. The landscape was very reminiscent of The Matrix and I liked the way it built up to exposing the human character. A dystopic and post apocalyptic view certainly but I had the feeling of it happening far away in time and space and as such was not threatened by it. A possible future maybe but not a vision of today.
Ideas and Interpretations
I spent a lot time reading these essays and I believe it was time well spent. For me these were an introduction to sociological reading and a reminder of how to read and think critically. Without this background I would have found the second part of the readings even more challenging.
Perspectives on Education
Daniel, J. (2002). Technology is the Answer: What was the Question? Speech from Higher Education in the Middle East and North Africa, Paris, Institut du Monde Arabe, 27-29 May 2002. http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=5909&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
The questions for this article were “Using Daniel’s four “b”s – bias, bull, breadth and balance – what observations can you make about his utopian arguments about education? What currency do they continue to have in this field?” I have to say I pretty much agreed with most of this article (and one would hope that a UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education would have some valid views on the subject) but Daniel himself tells us to be wary of others claims in regards to ICT and education. His own bias is found in his technological determinist position however his broad definition of technology in respect to education allows him to include a social and political stance. Bearing in mind that this is over 10 years old and written at a time when social media was still pretty much in its infancy I think this is still a useful and insightful piece.
Noble. D. (1998). Digital Diploma Mills: The Automation of Higher Education. First Monday 3/1. http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/569/490
While I can appreciate this 15 year old dystopic view of technology and education, the fact that we are still asking many of these same questions shows that Noble’s bleak, pessimistic view of the future of education has not yet come into being. We do need to be critical of new educational technology and not risk throwing the baby out with the bath water, but I do not believe that technology, even then, created a ” battle between students and professors on one side, and university administrations and companies with “educational products” to sell on the other”.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9/5. http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/prensky%20-%20digital%20natives,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf
I loved this article and enjoyed reading the genesis of the Digital Native and Digital Immigrant terms so often used today. It is hard to argue with a lot of his observations about the differences between the young and old in their approaches to technology, but he certainly generalises heavily and I think is too harsh on both parties. I do not believe young people need to be tricked into learning nor do all older people struggle with adapting to new technology.
Wesch, M. (2007). The Machine is Us/ing Us? (4:33) http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=NLlGopyXT_g
I enjoyed this video and thought it was a nice little history lesson. Certainly may aspects of the web are not included, particularly many of the commercial and political uses, and we probably don’t have as much control as this video suggests.
Overall week 1 has been enjoyable and thought provoking. I realise my take on technology is largely utopian, as is my view of the use of technology in education. It is important, however, that we critically review our implementation of new technologies and do not fall into to trap of thinking that just because something is new it is good. Conversely not all old ways are the best ways.