What impact is the fast-paced development of digital technologies having on teaching and learning? There is no doubt that the emergence of technologies such as mobile devices, personal learning environments and game-based simulations are opening immense possibilities for students to learn in new ways. New theories of learning have emerged which integrate networks of collaboration and group knowledge generated by the Internet. There is also no shortage of discussion about how schools have reached their limits and need to undergo significant changes in order to meet the needs of our digital society. (Godin, 2012) (Dixon & Einhorn, 2011). Few would argue that the impact of technology on education is a vast topic to explore. As both a teacher and a student of the current educational landscape, I have begun to question more specifically, what impact technology is having on me?
I do not own a smart phone, and have been avoiding this technology for fear it will destroy what little solitude I have managed to maintain for myself. I have little interest in following threads on twitter and Facebook, which often seem little more than noisy interruptions that come so fast and furious as to leave little time for my own thoughts. My decision to pursue graduate work in an online environment was an intentional effort to build self-efficacy with the digital interactions that I find so challenging. As an educator, I often feel that I am somehow falling behind, that I need to participate in social media and digital learning in order to be an effective educator. While I do try to incorporate technology into my classroom, I question if my personal disinterest in online learning environments and social media will restrict my abilities to teach digital natives. Do I possess the skills or aptitudes required to teach in the changing paradigms of education? Technology’s impact on me has indeed been one involving stress.
This week I came across a video of Susan Cain, who voiced concerns about current practices in schools and workplaces placing too much emphasis on group work and collaboration. Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Steve Wozniak are among those Cain presents as prominent figures whose impacts came through solitary contemplation and strength. Cain suggests that we need greater balance of yin and yang between introverts and extroverts. She calls for us to “stop the madness for constant group work”, and to unplug from the digital world to contemplate our own thoughts.
Cain’s discussion helped me to recognize that I am one of those people who feels pressured into extroversion in order to satisfy the demands of school and society. Her words encouraged me to stop trying to be something that I’m not – that it’s okay not to be extroverted. Perhaps it is also okay for me not to tweet or blog. Cain’s perspective on our changing society alleviated some of the stress I feel with engaging in online environments. It seems somehow ironic, that following a thread on twitter to a you-tube video would lead to a serendipitous learning experience that has eased my trepidation with social media and online learning.
So what impact is digital technology having on me? Only the impact that I allow it to have.
Cain, Susan. (2012). The Power of Introverts. [Video File]. Retrieved October 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4
Godin, Seth. Stop Stealing Dreams (What Is School For?). (Free Online Publication, 2012). Retrieved October 2012 from http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/docs/StopStealingDreamsSCREEN.pdf
Dixon, Bruce & Einhorn, Susan. (2011) The Right to Learn. [White Paper]. Retrieved from http://www.ideaslab.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/RIGHT-TO-LEARN-BIG-SUMMIT-WHITEPAPER.pdf