Wednesday, September 17, 2008

where is the learning?

There is fascinating dialogue ongoing at The Chronicle Review, with professorial commentators Mark Baurlein, and Siva Vaidhyanathan. They are discussing and debating the efficacy of technology as a medium for learning in a series of blog posts. Siva points out that we can't simply fall for the stereotypical view that technology acceptance and use is a generational thing. Just because they're young doesn't mean they know how to access information through the computer. Baurlein argues that there isn't any proof that technology is improving the educational experience, since students claim to spend less time than ever on their studies, and much more time socializing through MySpace and Facebook.

I completely agree with Siva's point about the broad spectrum of web knowledge amongst our students. Many of them don't know much because they're not taught how to use the web beyond Google and Wikipedia for school. They learn fast, however, very fast. And they're rarely unwilling to explore online, whereas some adults simply won't go there.

And, I agree with Baurlein: students see the internet primarily as the great socializer. Again, the problem is that they haven't been taught how to use it properly as a learning tool.

It explains why we're so upside-down education-wise. The students know real education is "out there," rather than packaged in a redacted textbook. The educational system as a whole has yet to acknowledge this fact. The system is still trying to 'contain' education, protecting traditional modalities.

Be sure to read the comments on these posts, which add so much to the discussion. Open up a dialogue at your school.


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