Saturday, December 29, 2007

Education and Technology

There is no doubt in my mind that our educational system is stuck in the Industrial Age. Education is not only stuck in the Industrial Age, there are still remnants of the Agrarian Age. We still continue with the attendance practice of summers off to accommodate farming.

We are in a period of adjustment with technology that is very uncomfortable for many people. The paradigm shift is at an angle that has us reeling and feeling off balance. I am willing to embrace the technology, yet I stand back because it is moving faster than I am capable of making decisions. When I did the Great North American Paradigm Quiz in McCain and Juke's "Windows on the Future", 27 out of 29 of the statements described my experience before age 20. Bubble gum was a penny and people used to schlep through the grocery store with a cigarette hanging from their mouth. I send my husband off to do computer purchases because it overwhelms me. I get frozen in the middle of the questions of what technology can do for us. I see the speed at which information is accessed and tasks can be completed; on the other hand, hours of my time can be devoured while I browse – with no productive completion of my task at hand.

There are so many issues to resolve. Technology futurists insist that education has to change to match the needs of young people today. Research is showing that growing up in a media rich environment actually changes how the brain works and the best way to deliver learning is through the gaming format that children are drawn to. This terrifies many educators because the terms of play and games are antithetical to what is accepted as education and learning. The current method of education is based on the need to have obedient workers who become skilled in a specialty and stay with it to produce efficiently and proficiently. The education system mirrors the factory assembly-line that made us the economic power in the world: compartmentalize by grouping children by age, specialize by training teachers in different areas, move the kids on down the line and use tests and grades for quality assurance. I believe this system is not working for students today. I make this statement, but I do not have any answers. I look to the leaders in the field to direct us. That is why I decided to get my Master's Degree in Education Technology. I want to be an educator who is part of the discussion and not blocking it.

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