We were asked today to reflect on a “tension” that existed within us concerning technology and education. We used a new online tool, Pixlr, which is an online, somewhat simplified version of Photoshop. It is a reasonably good tool, but I would have been frustrated with it if I hadn’t used Photoshop before. This is a good jumping point to discuss how I feel about using online versus “offline” or non-tech tools to complete a task and to learn.
Let’s start with the image I made. I had to manipulate two pictures I took into a graphic representing my concern. I took a picture of myself in Photo Booth, then took a screenshot of my screen to show me multitasking. I tend to multitask and am very much “tuned in” to the world via my computer. That and my camera (which is broken!) are two essential parts of how I record and communicate my thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
I’m torn though, just like in my graphic. The blank wall behind my head that peeks through the center image reflects the world I am not seeing by being so focused on what is on my screen. Sure, I’m jacked in, but am I tuned out…?
Sometimes, you gotta go outside to see what is out there. The Internet is a convenient way of avoiding many things beyond the periphery of our screens. I mentioned to one of my professors that I had a number of friends who avoided the planet by becoming computer programmers, and I think I engaged heavily in fantasy and roleplay online in my youth — that is something I employ to varying degrees of success in my classroom. It is ironic that I want students to “experience” something else outside of their personal lives, but I am in danger of limiting their field of vision to what is contained in a 13-inch screen, 15 inches if they use a PC, 8 if they are on iPads. The world is filtered through that screen. We can make the screen reflect whatever we want, which isn’t necessarily “the world” in all its unpredictability.
That can’t be good. The Internet can offer scads of information that children in previous generations were not privvy to…but then again, previous generations played with dirt. They skinned their knees. They smelled flowers, jumped in rivers, and dissected dead frogs without a liability agreement. They learned stuff. They ate peanut butter and played double-dutch. Well okay, *I* played double-dutch — many of my friends didn’t, and I consider this a crying shame.
You can’t play double dutch by reading about it on eHow.
For me, all of this tech stuff is about balance. I love tech, no doubt, but I also loved double-dutch. The lessons I learned about my body and my friends were vital to my navigating the world. I can only simulate so much. I feel I need to keep this in mind when creating my lessons. I don’t want the rest of the world to be at my back while I master what is on my screen.