Our Most Important Roles

I’ve been reading Bob Cringely’s column ever since I discovered he was the person behind one of my favorite PBS documentaries, “Triumph of the Nerds” which is a history of personal computing. Last week he posted an article about how the later generations of our students who are beginning to perceive that there was no life prior to computers, perhaps much in the same way my generation perceives television. What will our children’s children be experiencing in their learning opportunities?

My take on it is that for instruction we have to take into effect the philosophy that the best determining factor of what a person will learn can depend on what they already know. If a person is situated and surrounded by technology, they likely expect technology to be the medium by which they receive instruction.

With that said, I was having a conversation with a faculty member yesterday about the most important role that technology places in curriculum. I go back to my own learning experiences, both self-directed and instructor-led, classroom or “life experience” and realize that the human factor has always been a big part of it. If I was the last person on earth and all I had left were the technology left behind, I wonder how I might go about continuing to learn all that I could about various subjects?

My take on it is that if students have an expectation of how best they learn we should be aware of that fact. At the same time, I like going back into history before the advances of technology that we have currently were available. My assessment is that some of the greatest teachers and learners still succeeded without it. Why? It could be a number of factors, but having proper motivation of self or of instructor was likely a factor.

Most of my colleagues in the field would agree that by nature human beings are built to learn all that they can. Whether or not they are successful in that aspect of their life largely depends on their environment. Therefore, there is still a great need for people who can be mentors, encouraging entities, tutors, coaches, and most importantly good parents. I think it’s useless to point fingers at things or people or place blame when it comes to poor learning outcomes. Rather we should work towards correcting and improving learning opportunities. Technology is a big portion of that, but being an influence and role model for successful living is priceless in a world filled with teaching and learning opportunities.

May we choose our technology wisely and seek the success of our students accordingly!

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