Everything’s Amazing: Nobody’s Happy

I heard the voice track of this video on the radio yesterday, I thought it was pretty funny and put some things into perspective about how far we’ve come.  The video is comedian Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show:

http://tomfaranda.typepad.com/folly/2009/02/louis-ck-everythings-amazing-nobodys-happy.html

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Question Responses: Yeaman, Postman, Borgman

1. Critical Theory – a way of looking at and analyzing society through various lenses, such as technology and history, to develop a perspective way of interpreting it [society].

1) society,  2) subjective,  3) analysis,  4) interpretation,  5) new

2. I think that both Yeaman and Postman’s statements can be true, but that it is a very subjective statement to make.  I think that you could find people who wholly agreed or disagreed with these statements.  Unfortunately, we find that those who are least adept to using technology assume the first statement that all technology is guilty until proven innocent and would assume that most technology will end up being a burden for them.  Those who are technically savvy think that most new technologies will be a blessing, even if they take a little getting used to.

To many, Google is a blessing and allows us to access a great deal of information.  However, if you asked my school’s librarian she might look at Google as a burden because it’s not the way that students should be researching or finding information.  Our access to information as a whole and how technology has impacted that is certainly a blessing and a curse.  In 2007 my mom went into the hospital with very odd symptoms that the doctors couldn’t put together to come up with a diagnosis.  My sister went home and did some research and found a few possibilities based on the symptoms.  Since the hospital couldn’t diagnose my mom they sent her to University of Maryland Medical Center up here in Baltimore where they diagnosed her with Guillain Barre Syndrome, a very rare neurological disorder that affects only 1 in 100,000 people.  GBS was at the top of my sister’s list of possible diagnoses.  Once the diagnosis was final at UM, I spent much of my time researching the disease and possible ways of treating it, scaring myself because death was very possible based on my mom’s condition at the time and reading that there is no cure.  In this particular situation I felt that technology and my access to information was a blessing because I was able to find out more information about the disease and what to expect, but it was also a curse because I was reading about the terrible prognosis that could be in my mom’s future.  There was information that I was able to access that I wished I hadn’t read…

3. Like I said in my earlier post, Borgman was confusing to me.  I’ll be reacting to this statement the way I interpret it, if it’s wrong – sorry!  I think that technology has made us a society that is less inclined to face-to-face interaction.  I much prefer to email someone that talk to them face to face or call them.  I have friends that I only text, never call.  However, if text wasn’t available I might never talk to these friends.  We often put machinery in place of physical interactions with one another, though I think many of us understand the difference between these types of interactions and how much more meaningful things can be in person.  How many of us get to experience receiving a hand written letter sent through the post office anymore.  In comparison to years past, these types of interactions have become much less.  On the other hand, it also makes these interactions more memorable.  (Most of us could probably recall the last piece of mail we got that was hand addressed and hand written and not just filled out on the inside of a greeting card, however, I would guess that few of us could recall the last email we read or even who it was from).  So while devices decrease these pretechnological actions, they tend to increase how significant they are to us.

I do think it is a goal of those who create new technologies to have their audience enamored with them and to allow them to take over their lives as many of us often let technology do.  We lose contact with those who are not up to date with emailing and texting, but the invention of email or the like was not intended to break those friendships, but to make them span across more miles than previously allowed.

The Three Wise Men: Yeaman, Postman, and Borgman

Okay, finally got through all of the readings, I found the Borgman article completely dry and really hard to read.  I didn’t get as much out of reading that as I did the others.  I’ll react to each reading separately, because while they all relate to the same topic, I find it easier to respond to each one rather than tying them together and hope to touch on some of  Bill’s questions along the way…(if not, I’ll do that next week).

Yeaman (I think he brought the gold?)

What struck me most about this article was the college students responses to technology in the classroom near the end of the article (pp. 10-11).  I feel as though many of the teachers that I work with look at technology as a blessing or a curse (or both).  They can see how it would enhance their teaching and student work or they see it as a complete distraction and unnecessary tool.

Another statement that hit home for me was this, “They mistake the computerization of society through computers in schools as educational technology.” (p. 11)

I could be misinterpreting this statement, but to me that is very much how I see my colleagues.  In my school, our principal is working hard to have teachers collaborating and integrating across subject areas.  Though, almost every time you hear those words, people look to me or the librarian.  They think that if a student creates a PowerPoint on the Middle East that they have used [educational] technology.  I do not see it that way, I see PowerPoint as another means of presenting information, no different than writing a paper or creating a poster.  My colleagues think that if the end product includes the use of the computer and a bibliography that they have integrated both technology and research.  My opinion: Yes, PowerPoint is a technology…but using a computer to create something in school does not make it educational technology.

Postman

In the Postman article, he makes the statement that, “television may bring a gradual end to the careers of schoolteachers…” We have many teachers at my school who might agree with this statement.  We recently introduced a product at our school called Moodle (think Blackboard but free and not as pretty), and we had teachers say that if we can use this tool to teach our classes, then are they putting themselves out of the job by learning to use it?  I don’t see how any teacher could see the introduction of this type of tool as a way of putting them out of the job, the tool is meant to enhance their teaching and allow them to use technology in an interactive way rather than a one-way tool as our previous websites allowed us to do.  There are books out there that will teach you how to do anything, that doesn’t mean that classes who provide that same information will one day go out of business.  I think there are many reason why this won’t happen, but I think the way I see it is that there are too many different types of learners out there for this to happen.  I am someone who can usually read a book or directions and figure out how to do something, but not everyone is like that.  Even then, there are many things I wouldn’t be able to learn how to do without seeing, trying, interacting, etc.

Another topic that Postman touched on was the fact that anyone who can master technology has some advantage over others who do not have this skill.  We have many teachers who believe this, they feel they are inferior to those who can figure out technology related thing or those who picked up Moodle faster than others.  However, those people likely have skills that the technology masters cannot master or pick up quickly.  It reminds me of the idea of digital natives and digital immigrants.

Borgman (he definitely brought the myrrh…I don’t really know what myrrh is but it sounds boring)

One thing in the Borgman article that resonated with me were his excerpts from Sturt where he noted that his friends were becoming “machine hands” (p. 46).  I think that students have definitely become “machine hands,” they rely on spell check and other tools to correct things for them.  They have terrible penmanship because they rarely write anything anymore.  They figure if they can read their own writing/notes, it doesn’t matter how sloppy it is because they will be typing it up later anyway.

I liked the part where he discussed the evolution of certain products and their availability, such as the TV.  What I found particularly interesting about this article was Borgman’s discussion about this evolution.  He states, “A program broadcast at an inconvenient time can be recorded and played later” (p. 43), of course, it being 2009 I thought of a DVR or Tivo.  I then looked at when the article was written and saw that it was 1984.  If you read that portion of the paper (about 3/4 the way down p. 43), you can read each of those statements and apply them to 2009 without much adaptation to the vocabulary used.

Another statement that is very clear, even 25 years later, “In the progress of technology, the machinery of the device has therefore a tendency to become concealed or to shrink.”  Think about the iPod, the laptop, the cell phone, etc.  All of these devices are shrinking and if they are staying the same size they are capable of so much more than they used to be.

Welcome to my blog!

This is where I will be responding to our readings and questions for our Critical Perspectives class.  Enjoy!