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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Importance of Technology in Education




Out future by no small means, depends on the education of our youth. I’m not talking about formal education (although it’s importance for status is not lost on me) I’m talking about what children are learning, from books to blogs, what are our children absorbing?

Is Technology Making us Less or More Intelligent?

With all the articles and books about how twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites are leading to short attention spans and dumbing down planet you would think technology is destroying society. 

Honestly I think it just depends on how your using it. The internet can be a window of discovery a portal of decadence or a way to communicate, a phone can be a great organizer or a deadly distraction. The point is that like all other things it’s not the item it’s the intended use. People (especially young people) in other countries are getting tons of practical use out of their computers, cell phones and other gadgets. Facebook has helped change elections and twitter has freed people from tyrants just as two examples.

When you look at my homeland, the good old U.S of A, people here use their tech mostly for trivial reasons, a lot of us merely own things to show off to our friends, and when children do start spending more time learning the wonders of tech and trying to figure things out or play with new apps, their usually met with a resounding “stop wasting your time go outside and play!” So what are the benefits of going outside to “play”?(more on that after)

So I think that technology is making us better as a planet. The point when all information is available anytime anywhere will mark a time in which scientific advancements happen by leaps and bounds on a daily schedule. And it’s going to be the youth, the ones with the short attention spans and anti-authoritarian views who end up creating this situation.

Einstein Go Get Your Football

So here is where we face a difficult question. What would the world be like if Einstein had people around like many of us do, people who would say things like; “Why do you waste your time thinking about these thins Albert? You should go outside and play” or “Your wasting your time, your not getting anything done all you do is think?”  and he gave into them, believed them?

Would he have became the great physicist he did?  Probably not. My point is simple some people like to go out and play others like to discover and learn and others still like to do both. Technology can play an important roll in the education of all these people.

So How Does Technology Help Us Learn

Well the obvious reason is the availability of so much information archived, organized and ready to be devoured. But there are also a lot of subtle ways technology teaches, things we take for granted. A simple example is google maps, a great tool for directions and finding restaurants can also be used to see living conditions in other countries, learn about geography and give people an idea of places they might otherwise would have never seen. There’s also eBooks, which can save communities ton’s of money on textbooks and help the environment.

The problem isn’t that the tech doesn’t exists, it’s that people are not making good use of it. Only seeing the simple and basic ways it can be used and not using things to their full potential. Companies do all the time, but schools and more importantly communities need to start making better use of all the available resources, the only downside to not doing it is that our children will grow up facing a world they can’t excel in because their youth was spent playing Angry Birds for the simple reason they didn’t know about all the other fun things they could do with their iPhone.

Add to that the idea that this device is so damned expensive you’d better treat it with respect and you develop a culture of children who fear tech, like it’s some kind of god. There is no reason a child should be afraid to break shit in order to learn something new.

So Finally

What is the importance of technology in education…?

Well, you see, that’s the problem. Technology is not seen as important by educators. It’s pretty much to a point where the students who are interested in the subject know more than the teachers. They go online, talk on message boards, download apps and sometimes (when applicable) they create their own versions of/for the things their interested in. They live and breath their interests and the teachers can’t keep up.

Along with the short attention spans this makes for some wildly knowledgeable students, who get impatient when they can’t have all the answers at their fingertips. It’s creating people who can learn a whole subject on their own to the point the can start living off of what they love to do before they even finish college. It’s creating people who are accustomed to not having to memorize facts they can google and therefore are better critical thinkers.

So to end this. All I want to say is technology should be vitally important to education, and until it is, the educational systems of our world will be stuck at dial-up speed while the students go 4G.

1 comment:

  1. tech like every good thing can be perverted.