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Humans or Robots?

In typical fashion, Will Richardson gave me things to think about, along with a reading assignment. Last week, he shared this gem from George Siemens. In his post, George explains why he is changing his thinking about educational technology. 

"...educational technology is not becoming more human; it is making the human a technology. Instead of improving teaching and learning, today’s technology re-writes teaching and learning to function according to a very narrow spectrum of single, de-contextualized skills." - George Siemens


Without a doubt, my personal learning is constantly supported and enhanced by connected, mobile technology. The Internet, and all that it has to offer, feeds my curiosity, and keeps me informed. Technology helps me be a better learner. Using it makes me smarter. Additionally, technology has connected me to thousands, dare I say millions, of people. These connections provide information, resources, perspective, compassion, criticism, and fellowship. Technology is helping me become a better human.


Context, as George reminds us, is an important consideration. Would my experience and perspective be the same if I was currently in the classroom as either a teacher or student? Is the expectation to learn specific standards within a mandated curriculum creating a much different form of technology than the one so many of us enjoy? Is this technology "dark side" dehumanizing our learning? In the school context, is technology turning learners into robots?


"I think expecting schools to educate children to become consumers is a flawed approach to technology from the very start. (It’s one that surely enriches the ed-tech industry, who by all accounts are the ones most clearly benefiting from widespread adoption of tech in the classroom.) - Audrey Watters

So, while I think robots are cool, I shudder to think about schools full of them. Technology can be a liberating, humanizing tool for socially connected learning, or it can be a stifling weapon that limits creativity and personal expression. Is the purpose of school to grow better humans, or build better robots?

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photo credit: robot 1 poster v1 via photopin (license)

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