i stood at the crumbling edge
funny lecture today. some government-type propaganda people came in to tell us about the digital education revolution - the only notes i took down where a bunch of acronyms that no longer make sense to me. and of course, while they were telling us all about how "Technology" was the way of the future and nothing would ever be done without it, the dvd player refused to work properly. this kind of technical difficulty, combined with the cynicism of the experienced teachers who are instructing us can only lead to a particularly jaded outlook for the whole cohort. the way the DET folks are talking sounds like no one will ever use a pen and paper again. ever. while it is blatantly obvious that heaps of schools are still labouring under ancient tech systems. the reason that none of us trust "Technology" is because it stuffs up and often seems superfluous. on the DET site, there are a bunch of laptop 'wraps' - programs (i mean 'tools') specifically designed for the netbooks that are allegedly being rolled out as we speak. i found one a few hours ago, claiming to be an interactive short story. it was just a glorified picture book on the net rather than on paper.
im still thinking this through, but so far i haven't seen anything done on the laptop that could not have been figured out without the silly 'glorified typewriters'. now, i agree that this particular epithet completely ignores the heaps of software that come installed on the netbook - onenote and the adobe suite stand out particularly - but the fact that no one is willing to spend any money on getting teachers acclimatised to the new changes makes them practically redundant. yes, kids can now talk to people on the great barrier reef, but they could have done that with a single IWB.
and then theres the troubleshooting. we are expected to use all this tech for Good, and they are attempting to teach us how to use the myriad 'tools' - but the fact is we haven't grown up mucking around on them. i have never seen, let alone used onenote, i don't know much about photoshop, audacity, IWBs, freemind, or creative commons. sure, they might be able to teach me, in one and a half years, the basics of all this software, but besides the fact that most of it will be obsolete by then, what about fixing problems? what happens when someone's system crashes, the IWB freezes, somebody BOD's? why do you think noone ever thought it a good idea to give all school-age kids a mobile phone?
final gripe for today (i promise). "Technology". i had a huge problem with the propaganda lady today and how she kept saying it like it was some glorious path to light. i have never seen an IWB in sydney uni at all. honestly, i have no real idea of what it is. one of my tutoring kids - a 6-yr old - would not believe me when i told him that a zebra was a real animal the other day. i kind-of don't believe in the reality of the IWB. i could point one out in a picture and tell you it's magical properties, but the same thing holds for me and dragons. actually, i probably know more about dragons. "Technology" is not a place we are going. it is not something that is invading our lives. it is not even a single entity that can do anything on its own. it is a bunch of tools that we have created. we can use them - or we can not. i realise that it is now mandated in the curriculum, and yes, if necessary i am sure i will be able to teach some kids how to use academically-related tools. they can talk to people on the other side of the globe - but they could do that with pen-pals. they can look at the NSW house of reps on a laptop wrap - or they could go there, sit in the chairs and smell the upholstery. 'technology' is a way of organising things, or a material product (wiki). it is nothing without someone steering it and feeding something into it. that is where all this money should have gone. when the netbooks are obsolete (read: in 2 years) someone, somewhere is going to realise that instead of flushing our taxes down the proverbial, we could have begun a process of teaching critical thinking around communication systems (technologies). that requires regular exposure to one computer and more focus on thinking, instead of continually producing gigabytes of stuff that simply shows which kids know how to use photoshop the best, and that will hang around on school servers until it looks silly.