Technology Prioritization

This week we are covering technology prioritization.  We are asked to consider of the technologies we use daily, which two could we not live without?  How have these tools improved our life? How would our lives change without them?

I would have to say that the two technologies I could not live without are the computer and the World Wide Web.  For younger generations, they might not make a distinction between the two technologies because using a computer without access to the Internet would seem futile, right?  However, for digital immigrants, online meant connected to a business network where we had access to critical business documents and the ability to collaborate with our coworkers.

Some might debate whether computers have improved their lives and are saving them time.  That is what technology is all about, right?  It is about productivity gains and the ability to better manage or control our environments.  For example, computers minimize the amount of paper we receive and allow us to manage our bills and bank accounts online.  I can download and create my own contracts, forms, and invoices.  I can communicate and collaborate with not only my new friends but also those I have not spoken to in more than 20 years.  The control and management of my environment is endless!

So, why do I feel like technology is not only managing me but also controlling my children?  Moreover, when I suddenly find myself without access to the Internet, or my computer why do I find myself with an extra four hours in my day? Why does talking on the phone or running errands seem unproductive in comparison to using email, texting, or ordering online? The truth is that if we fail to disconnect from technology we allow it to control us.  It entertains us, thinks for us, predicts our behavior, and does not penalize us for our suddenly short attention spans.  Are these productivity gains?

However, two fundamental questions come to mind.  Are we encouraging our children to be more productive and to control or better manage their environments?  Are we teaching them to use technology responsibly?  Alternatively, are we allowing them to become part of the digital divide?  For instance, has technology replaced rather than augmented communication?  Do they approach problems by problem-solving or requesting that Google do the solving for them? Can they use simple computer applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, or graphics programs? Are they creating ideas on their own or merely cutting and pasting those of others?  Do they understand piracy and the ethical responsibility of using the work of others?

Much of the information discussed in this week’s resources was not new, but I always appreciate a different perspective or a reminder of importance.  For this reason, McNeely’s (n.d.) emphasis on the Next Generation and the importance of interaction and relevance is no small problem.  Moreover, a failure to address it now perpetuates an already existing problem, and that is the practical use of technology rather than using technology for the sake of technology (McNeely, n.d.).  It had come to my attention that my generation is one of the few remaining who used computers before they were entertainment devices.  My point is that the only use for technology was productivity.  We owe it to the next generation to teach them the practical use, and the relevance in an interactive fashion.  Engage them in the process and make sure their use of technology is meaningful and efficient.

McNeely, B. (n.d.) Using technology as a learning tool, not just the cool new thing. In Oblinger, D., & Oblinger, J. (Eds.), Educating the Net Generation. Retrieved Oct. 13, 2009, from http://www.educause.edu/Resources/EducatingtheNetGeneration/UsingTechnologyasaLearningTool/6060?time=1235391961

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