Mythinformation: the almost religious conviction that a widespread adoption of computers and communications systems along with easy access to electronic information will automatically produce a better world for human living. (Winner, 1986).
In my first few years teaching, I felt a very strong push for technology use at the board level. However, I got my back up because I felt that we were just ‘told’ that we had to do it and not given the reasons why it was better. Through taking EC&I 830, I was given an opportunity to learn about different technologies and how it could be used in the classroom. But, even after taking this class: I was still not on twitter; I stopped using my delicious account; and I only used computers in my classroom as either a research tool or glorified typewriter. This would be a clear example of a CMS. However, is EC&I 831 a PLN (see here for more information)? I know that it depends completely on me. That being said, I am not sure how much I will continue to expand and change my PLN once this class is over and so many other things get in the way. I have never wholeheartedly embraced technology. I spend time with it because I have to and it does make my life easier. But I still have no desire for a smart phone, a data plan, or even an updated cell phone.
Now when I plan projects, I look at what I want to teach and then try to use technology to support what I am doing. Enter delicious accounts for research, google docs for student/teacher sharing, and student-blogging to ask questions, share ideas, and create conversations. This is not without its problems though.
I am currently working on a social studies citizenship project with my students. They are exploring Canadian history from three different perspectives: First Nation and Metis, Francophone and Quebecois, and immigrant. Students need to have a timeline, a map of their culture, an interview with a relevant resource, a field trip related to their topic, and a presentation for the class. I went to the library to gather print resources for each group. One day, the students did not have the computer for the first half hour of class and had to use only print resources for research. Many of the students seemed to go through major withdrawl while waiting for the computers to arrive. Once they had access, their gaze resembled that of the girl in the photograph: engaged, mesmerized, hypnotized, entranced… addicted?
“The proliferation of images of children gazing at computers with wide-eyed wonder has much to do with the creation of this aura of multimedia innocence. So too does the frequent juxtaposition of …technology and happy children, typically within the context of blatantly utopian environments, unfettered worlds in which youngsters are encouraged to give free reign to their creativity, ideas, and imagination” (Rose, p. 47).
I am curious for insight on this. We seem to continue these stories by bragging about how early our children are exposed to technology and by how quickly they pick it up. Do these stories need critical evaluation? Or is it just the accepted (and wanted) norm?
Rose, Ellen (2000). Hypetexts: the language and culture of educational computing. London: The Althouse Press.
Winner, Langdon (1986). The Whale and the Reactor: a search for limits in an age of high technology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.