The Tech-Learning Sweet Spot
As we travel through the 21st century our society has melded with technology. Just consider this; can you last an hour or longer without your mobile or the Internet? For sure younger generations would have trouble with this as they have a ‘fear of missing out’ (FoMo). In this post I’ll explore a few social tech trends I’ve noticed and what implications it has on learning and education.
Our Tech Lives
First and foremost our lives are heavily dependent on technology. The examples are countless! Let’s say you plan on going to an event, how do you get there? Most likely you’ll use GPS and Google maps or similar. What about a simple jog…well it’s becoming more common for people to wear Fitbits or use Pokemon GO as motivational tools. Technology has weaved its way into practically all our daily activities.
For learning this can be seen as a double-edged sword. On the one hand we have the answer to almost every question at our fingertips. Yet on the other hand we are prone to blindly following instructions or suggestions we find online. Also what happens to our creativity due to this dependency? As educators we are eager to share the benefits of educational technology. Still lets remember how much there is to learn from nature and hands-on experiences. Of course bequrious talks plenty about makerspaces. Another intriguing concept for younger learners is the Forrest Kindergartens in Denmark.
The Tech-Comm Generation
Lets now shift our focus to how technology is shaping communication. Dating apps like Tinder let us show our attraction by swiping through pictures. Social networks and apps like Snapchat let us share selfies and videos of our daily lives. Recently, during my maker tour I stayed at a hostel and was shocked! As I walked through the lounge virtually everyone was lost in their own mobile world. This was a rare occasion where I left a hostel without having made a new friend!
Our strongest social connections still remain through face-to-face interactions and events. However, it’s clear that communication is quickly becoming dominated by digital tools and potentially drifting to a virtual social world. As educators we’ll likely realize that if we wish to engage with students it might be more effective by using online platforms. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and online degrees also indicate the start of virtual learning and education.
Jumping further down the tech-comm rabbit hole; what about how digital text impacts our literacy attention span? As I hinted previously our digital worlds are filled with visual media. During my museum maker tour I noticed that young visitors only read text in videos and video games. The boards of text sat there neglected and collecting dust. Also in my ESL classes it takes a lot of encouraging for students to write just a few sentences. Finally, there is an increased trend of using emoticons and emojis in text based communication!
Looking back through history both the Chinese and Ancient Egyptians used writing consisted of pictograms. Now it would be a drastic leap for us to completely abandon the written language in favor of a more visual communication. Nevertheless, think about a ‘meme’ or a YouTube video, in most cases they can be easily understood across many different languages. If the youth have become so engaged by visual media, perhaps we must also shift our instruction, right? A good example of this can already be seen through flipped classrooms.
Technology is here to stay and it will shape the future of society. The extent to which technology will impact our daily lives and communication is tough to predict. However, I believe as educators we must expand our vision and explore ways technology can enhance learning. Let’s work together to find the learning sweet-spot between technology and the real world! Hope to continue the discussion on on Twitter or LinkedIN.