Thursday, July 9, 2009

Facebook Flutters and Other Technology Trials

During our Faculty Development meetings, we spent lots of time mulling over technology issues. Whenever we do that, the issue of Facebook is sure to arise. Most of us have come to see Facebook as one of the many possible tools in our toolboxes. Sure, it can be used for nefarious purposes. But I'm impressed with its ability to link people, to find those people who I thought were lost forever.

I confess that I haven't used it much with students. I don't teach as much as I once did, and I don't have as many friend requests from students as some of my colleagues do. I understand the need to have several Facebook pages: one for private use, one for school use. I also understand that anything that's posted on the Internet isn't really private, but I don't understand why so many people don't get that.

What intrigues me is the visceral negative reaction of some of my colleagues: "I hate technology. I hate this idea that technology will save us all."

Well, I'm in the other camp. I think that online teaching will preserve jobs for some of us long after many of the on-ground jobs have disappeared. I love the idea that I could teach online from a sailboat or from a cottage in Europe. I love using a computer, and I wish I had had more computer access when I was writing my dissertation. I wrote my entire dissertation on a Smith Corona Personal Word Processor. It had disks that would hold about 25 pages, but you couldn't be sure when you were close to filling it up. And once you went over the limit, too bad--you couldn't save.

I'm in awe of our present computer power and how cheap it is. Of course, my dad worked with computers his whole life, so I might be more aware than most folks. I'm not sure I understand this sneering disdain towards technology.

I'm also younger than many of my colleagues, although I'm turning 44 next week. Maybe it's a generational thing. I've noticed that my younger colleagues are often eager to play with technology and to see what kind of adaptations can be made for the classroom. Many of my older colleagues are still writing notes on the board (to be fair, I do that too).

When I teach my Poetry Writing class in the Fall, I plan to experiment with keeping a class blog or a wiki. When I taught it before, this technology was too new to me to want to experiment. Now, after eight months of blogging, I'm ready.

I understand that many of us are afraid that technology will make us obsolete, unnecessary to our schools. After seeing what has happened to auto workers in my lifetime, I get that. But I also think that refusing to keep up with technology will make us obsolete.

1 comment:

Shefali Shah Choksi said...

i agree with your stand: this is just another step in the live history of the written word! it's no different from a pen.
you'll have a ball in your poetry class! magic shall happen!