Are We Lost in Technology?

Here’s a question I have to ask you, ponder it for a while and be honest. Now here is the question. Sherry Turkle had a conversation with a boy who said “someday, someday, but certainly not now, I would like to learn how to have a conversation…,”how would your grandparents react to a statement like this one? I know my grandmother would be disappointed in a question like this, if she was asked 5 years ago. Yes, that’s right, I just indicated that my grandmother may have a different take on this statement if I told her it today. I say this with reason. My reason being, my grandmother used to threaten to take away all of her grandchildren’s’ cellphones the minute they walked into the house. Since then she bought an iPhone and will literally pause conversation with anyone to answer a text. Honestly, I was appalled and disgusted by this behaviour by the way my grandmothers take on technology changed but then I realized, this has happened across the globe to millions, maybe billions. 

Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk

Let’s start when the world as we know it today began…

Picture this, you turn on your box-style television and watch the evening news. CBC broadcaster Peter Mansbridge appears and starts talking about a world turning event. He begins talking about the internet (which is even included in one of his career highlights) which he explains can be used to “communicate across cultural and continents”. While this may hold true, we are not only communicating with others who are miles apart from us, we are also using it to communicate with the person across the table. So, what exactly has happened? The answer is quite simple, technology has consumed us. 

Photo Credit: davidstewartgets Flickr via Compfight cc

The Effects

Technology is everywhere. The only way you are able to read this post is because it is online. 

Returning to Sherry Turkle’s TED talk, she mentions “some of the things we do now with our devices are things that, only a few years ago, we would have found off or disturbing, but they’ve quickly come to seem familiar, just how we do things,”. As I reflect on this, I believe it is true. Who would have thought sending a picture of yourself to other people multiple times a day on app called SnapChat would be might be normal? In class, we talked about how SnapChat has created streaks so people have to go onto the app if they want to keep the streak alive. Who would have thought? We keep the streak alive, why? I could not tell you, I have multiple streaks but do I actually talk to those people? Barely. Strange, right? That’s our norm. 

To my surprise, Turkle says some people have wished “that some day a more advanced version of Siri… will be more like a best friend, someone who will listen when others won’t,”. My reaction was this: The human touch gives a sense of safety and comfort, Siri may be able to listen but will not be able to console us

Nathan Jurgenson’s article “The IRL Fetish” raises points similar to Turkle’s but adds other ideas. He mentions how some may brag about NOT being on social networks, and that is our accomplishment. We are consumed so much by technology so often that when we are off of it, we notice. This goes to show how consumed we have become by technology. 

Can Siri give hugs?
Photo Credit: Iain Purdie Flickr via Compfight cc

How are we learning? 

This week in class I was introduced to a news story where Ethiopian children were given tablets with the intention the children would learn from having these tablets. While the researchers claim the children were learning with the tablets, the question is: do they know what they are doing? From experience in the field, I have seen children who have had the privilege of educators to teach them basic skills such as reading and writing use technology to learn a lesson but not actually learn what they are doing. I am the same way, if I was to hear a song and not be familiar with it but it had a catchy tune, I too would learn how to sing it just so I could jam out to this song. My question is, where the children learning for intrinsic purposes or were they learning for extrinsic purposes encouraged by apps with reward such as moving up a level? 

Also, the app Class Dojo seems to be controversial. One article provides insight on the app. Some may claim the app is “a quick behavioural fix”as Mr. Manolev points out as it provides a point system which decides if students are good or bad. While teacher, Leanne Cairns argues the app motivates students and is good to use in the classroom if used and managed properly. We have become consumed by technology in our classroom by using apps like this one by using it to guide students’ behaviours while also allowing parenting monitoring. 

While I am not completely against technology in the classroom, I do see it’s downfalls. This week Katia provided us with an article related to computer note taking compared to the traditional pen and notepad note taking style. The result of the study: “students perform better academically when laptops are banned from the classroom” (Straumsheim, 2016). After finding out this result, I questioned why schools are wanting paperless classroom when studies are showing students do better without technology? I understand both sides of this argument. Yes, some teachers speed incredibly fast and it is quicker to type everything. But, what happens if technology fails? Where do your notes go? I may not know much about computers but I know it is way easier to recover notes on a piece of paper covered in orange juice versus notes on a computer covered in orange juice (I know this from a friend’s personal incident, she swears she had a heart attack and the only thing that kept her alive was the fact she had a hard copy of her notes). 

Photo Credit: verchmarco Flickr via Compfight cc

Lastly, I want to add one comment about computers in particular. Most expect youth to automatically know how to use computers but they do not. This prior weekend I went home and my brother had over 5 friends. They were preparing for finals with their Chromebooks in front of them. As they answered questions I noticed NOT A SINGLE PERSON was able to type correctly. All 5 of them sat around my kitchen table, chicken peckingtheir notes. I asked my brother later on if he knew the proper way to type and he said no. He added that he has never learnt to type properly. Interesting, isn’t it? What I find even more interesting is my brother is three years younger than me but I was taught to type and he was not. We had the same teachers, but I had to take computer literacy until Grade 9 yet he has never taken a computer literacy class in his life but was given a Chromebook to use every day since Grade 10 and assumed he knew how to use it. 

Has technology taken over our lives? Is it assumed younger generations will automatically know how to use technology? Maybe, but that’s for you to decifer. 

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

  • Miss. Lang

2 Replies to “Are We Lost in Technology?”

  1. Hi Jayden,
    This is a great post that acknowledges many factors of technology the was discussed, last class. I would like to specifically comment on your story about your brother not knowing how to type correctly. My brother is older than me and had to take computer literacy up until grade 9 as well, my brother graduated 4 years ago. Myself, on the other hand, did not start having access to computers until grade 6, and even then our teachers just expected us to understand how to use them without giving any guidance. Technology now seems to be a commonsensical idea that every young person should know and understand. I believe technology can be very beneficial in a classroom, but how can it be if we never teach how to properly use technology?
    Awesome blog post that brought up many interesting points! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes, I agree completely. I’m always cautious to answer when someone asks if technology is beneficial in the classroom because it is assumed every student knows how to use it. Not everyone has the same access to technology or knowledge of it but yet it is assumed everyone does.

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