Is Fearmongering Winning?
I guess it comes with the territory of a tech integration coach but sometimes I feel like I am perpetually climbing, forever convincing, endlessly cheerleading, and eternally fighting a pedagogical battle….
Allow me to explain…
Earlier this week I got an email from a pro-tech colleague of mine sharing A.J. Juliani‘s rebuttal to the TIME magazine article, Screens In Schools Are a $60 Billion Hoax. In the TIME magazine article it suggests that schools are falling victim to “the siren song of the tech companies” and their “hypnotic screens” and that EdTech is a money making hoax. In Juliani’s article, The Logical Fallacies of Time Magazine’s “Technology Hoax” Article, he makes a stand for the benefits of technology in education. Moreover, he debunks the article by outlining the logical fallacies inherent within the TIME article itself. Juliani does a great job, but I wonder nevertheless, if educational technology fearmongering winning?
After reading that article I realize that this pro-technology stance is nothing new for Juliani who responded to July 2016 NPR article, Is It Time to Ban Computers From Classrooms with his own titled, In Defense of Computers in the Classroom. Where the NPR article states, “the findings to date suggest that banning computers from classrooms may be the most sensible policy to adopt”, Juliani contests with, “I’m defending the use of computers because whether we like it or not, they are the most powerful learning, creating, and communicating tool ever created.”
So, from this one article shared via email I become catapulted into a hyperlinked web safari reading about the dichotomy between those who are for the benefits of technology and those who are adamantly opposed to technology. Prince Ea asks if we can Can We Auto-Correct Humanity? Sherry Turkle says that technology only makes us Alone Together. Dr. Kardaras says screen addiction is hijacking our kids in his book titled Glow Kids. Or dare I share the holy grail of anti-technology articles, A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute, where various Tech and Silcon Valley big wigs, dispel the need for tech and screens both at school and at home. After all this hyperlink surfing, it seems like more people are talking about the articles that confront technology than those that propagate it? At this point, I am almost convinced that tech fearmongering is winning…
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are a wealth of articles advocating the benefits of technology and the undeniable relevance that EdTech provides in the rapidly changing learning and professional landscape of today and tomorrow. Jeff Utecht, for example, aks if we can move beyond the superficial integration and just embed technology already? Edutopia argues that access to technology allows interaction with a variety of learning activities such as game-based learning, project based learning and individualized online learning. Bruce Dixon, a contributor to Modern Learners wrote Looking at Technology Through a Learning Lens where he argues that too many educators are toiling away the incredible opportunities to leverage all the tools, access and reach that technology provides.
Despite this, these pro-tech articles aren’t getting the “air-time” as much as the ones that incite tech fearmongering. Take this next video titled, Look Up, which has over 50 million views on YouTube. (Insert sarcastic tone here) Look Up seems to purport that if we only looked up from our devices, we would be able to meet a significant other, fall in love, have a baby, buy a house, and live a happy life.
Joking aside, how would our students respond if they watched that video? How do they feel when they hear mixed messages about screen time (Bad vs. Balanced)? What do their parents say about their use of technology? Or perhaps even more influential, what do their teachers say about technology? If we can assume that students are greatly influenced by the media, then hearing anti-tech slander from Prince Ea or Gary Turk can likely be crippling to their perception of technology. If coupled with similar sentiments from their parents or teachers, then students may be formulating beliefs on the negative aspects of technology because they think that is what they should believe. If so, I wonder how students who like to use technology are marrying the disparity between what they like and what they think they should say or believe. Is this biased view, teaching them how to balance their own digital and non-digital lives? At this point, I feel sure that tech fearmongering is winning.
What is the motivation behind this EdTech schism? Why are most counter arguments against technology in education so biased and one-sided?
Do teachers, parents, or administrators who don’t believe in the benefits of technology, just think that technology a passing phase like this meme?
Are people still abiding by old beliefs about screen time, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics have changed their rules regarding screen time?
As a technology integrationist, I value the use of technology in education and would say it that it is one of the most important foundations in my own educational philosophy! However, despite my love of EdTech, I don’t believe that an EdTech pedagogy should wipe out or replace every other proven best practice, strategy or educational activity. It is not, either or. It is, everything in an appropriate BALANCE. The tech fearmongering isn’t helping anything except to further perpetuate and confuse our students, parents and educators. Technology is NOT going anywhere. In fact, it’ll likely become even more ubiquitous in the future as various advancements and devices are created. Ignoring or slandering technology and denying its influence on our lives should no longer be an option. Teaching ourselves and in turn, modeling healthy and appropriate use of technology to our students is imperative. We all have to realize the biased nature of media. Interpreting media with a critical lens is crucial to knowledge acquisition especially as we live in such a media rich period in history. If we don’t begin to teach our students to simmer these extreme opinions on educational technology we will fail to help them align the disparate representations of technology and subsequently, we will fail to prepare them for an unknown future, where technology will be present.