Analog Girl in a Digital World

On the front page of the NYTimes is an article about the role of technology and student learning/teacher’s teaching. The article has an alarming affect, I was nervous about my use of the nets and computer devices as soon as I reached the bottom of page one. And then I continued. The author, Matt Ritchel, cites some neuroscientists who believes that the internet isn’t as harmful as TV and that multi-tasking is stimulating for the brain.

Nonetheless, educators in the article say that high schools are being corroded by technology, teachers are caught in the middle, as Ritchel puts it, “…computer or homework? Immediate gratification or investing in the future?”

As an instructional technology fellow at Macaulay Honors College at CUNY and someone who’s taught classes at Hunter college, I’m also in the middle. I think that engaging students’ lay wisdom of technology, their dexterity in multi-tasking and quick response could be a good platform to innovate education.

However, I also think that its harder for teachers to carry out traditional lesson plans with long reading and homework because the generation of ADD just can’t sit still. For the most part,I’m not also sold to the idea of online-ing classrooms, making face to face teaching and learning time obsolete. I’m not sure why, I don’t love the idea of wholesale giving up my teaching to the nets. I suppose education on the internet is of great interest to the neoliberal university, and the shrinking of an intellectual public is a part of neoliberal  ideology (ala Jurgen Habermas) but outside of those initial reactions, I don’t have any deep political reasons for it (but I should).

So, I’m asking you, readers, help?

One response to “Analog Girl in a Digital World”

  1. Well, if we pick up from the argument about the intellectual public being shrunk for the benefit of neoliberal ideology, i can tell you a story…

    In Orwell’s “1984,” Newspeak was used (a minimalist language) by the totalitarian government to prevent other modes of thinking. The idea was that if you can make a population contract their language, you are also contracting their thinking. Take out all the shades of meaning from the language, and leave simple dichotomies and root words that would serve as both verb and noun (i.e. good and ungood, doublegood, doubleplusgood).

    I feel that technology and the internet may have achieved the same effect, but via an overflow of thought (sometimes, of amazingly redundant, shallow thought…do we really need a video of an attractive girl farting on her cake?). It leaves us no room to think. Hence, the need to reflect. Freire advises that much of anti-oppressive work comes from simultaneous action and reflection, which I feel, is not possible with teaching left entirely via online classes.

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