Thursday, November 6, 2014

EdTech: The Bad

The other day, a friend and I got into a discussion about young children using technology. As a dad of a little one he was genuinely interested in my research on tech use and was asking tons of questions. I’ve come to realize that my blog has turned introspective of the entire edtech movement, trying to divine how we can navigate the murky waters we find ourselves in.

And that led to this three-part blog series: The Good, the Bad, and the Balance.

November 5: The Good
November 6: The Bad
November 7: The Balance

As much as I am a proponent of using educational technology, I see some major potholes for our society that is so bound to our devices.  These are things not just issues for young kids but us adults too. In my opinion, here are the five biggest concerns we should have about running blind into the world of technology.

  1. Lack of social skills. You've seen it before.  You've probably done it before. I know I have. When I have a glowing screen in my hand I have to look at it.  It doesn't matter that there is a living, breathing human being wanting to talk to me. I have to look at the screen, and my people skills slowly wither and die.  
  2. Obesity. I sit a lot more than I used to, and with all that sitting my old and beat up body constantly struggles with aches and pains and keeping my waistline where it was a few years ago. I can’t imagine that our love society’s love for screens is keeping us healthy.
  3. Invaded privacy.  When we get on the social media train, we tend to share a lot of information about ourselves and our children.  According to this article, 92% of two year olds have a digital footprint. And it only increases from there. My daughter is 5. When I typed her name into Google, 3 of the first 16 pictures were hers. I’m not sure I like that idea.
  4. Inexplicable sense of accomplishment. In a recent post about SnapChat, I mentioned Jerome Jarre, who is famous apparently for his social media prowess.  He has 7 million followers on SnapChat alone -- plus tons on Vine, Twitter, and others. How many of our students are aiming to walk in his footsteps rather than a Steve Jobs or Howard Schultz? While our kids can do amazing things on their devices, many of them just feel accomplishment for the ability to take a good selfie.
  5. Inability to think deeply. The quick and easy access to all sorts of information should free up our minds and time for more deep thinking. Instead, it’s all too easy to help us skim the knowledge base on many topics. As this article explains, if we aren't careful we can lose our ability to focus for long periods of time. 

    One article I read today says, “Teaching is a human experience. Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.” Please don’t read this post as a plea to end all use of technology, but as a warning to stop and think about the direction we are heading as a society.  Tomorrow, we will look at how to have balance in our approach to technology in our lives. 

    This video sums things up nicely, but I like how it wraps up with a balance, some unplugging is necessary to get some moderation in our lives. Your thoughts? 

    What dangers do you see in technology today?


    1. Craig I couldn't agree more! Especially with #5. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to remember something, and instead of taking the 60 seconds to really try, I turn to Google's "infinite" knowledge to find my answer. I had the knowledge, I just needed to recall it, but since it was easier to look it up I did! Surely this habit left unchecked will eventually weaken short term memory as our brain will learn it doesn't need to remember things; it's all online, or on our phone’s calendars, just a few swipes and taps on the screen away!

      1. Maybe if you paid better attention in 6th grade... :)