Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Man vs.Technology: Two Solitudes?

There are some very interesting questions that we should ask about our relationship to the technology that we experience every day. Some of these questions would be the following:

"How do we relate to technology that comes into our life? Do we see the technology as something that is alien to us, frustrating; something that we fight with every day?"
Let me illustrate what I mean by this with a personal experience. During my years as an educator in "brick and mortar" schools, I held the position of being the site technology administrator as well as being a class room instructor. One day, while doing my rounds in the elementary school hallway (Grade 7-9 school), I came across a strange sight. A grade 5 teacher had her desktop computer on a cart in the hallway and was the using the key board to hit the top of the monitor while screaming at it the following:
"I hate you, I hate you! I don't want to know anything about you!"
The first thought that came into my mind was: 
"How do I talk this distressed lady down before she commits digital homicide or injures herself?"
However, as I reflect back, I recognize that this is the same type pattern of relating that many people experience and it is a reason why relevant change in educational institutions is slow to happen. We have been brought up to believe that these are tools to make our jobs easier but unfortunately what has not been impressed upon us is that we only have part of the formula. In living with only part of the equation, we have created a solitude that is counter productive.

The Greatest Technology Known to Man
A preeminent technology that is often not considered and is greater than any technology that exists and has existed, is the human mind. It is from the human mind that the rise of civilizations have been plotted as well as their downfall. The human mind is greater than the super cray computer despite the speed that it can perform functions at. The human mind can visualize, imagine and create.

In the first solitude we see technology as disconnected from us, alien to our understanding and even as a threat. However, when we add the human mind into the equation in the right order, our thinking about the relationship that we have to technology should go something like this:

"I see technology as an extension to my mind and the way that I think. It allows my mind to go into areas where I have not been before. It allows my mind to gather more information than I previously had and as a result, I can use my mind to dream, to visualize, to probe phenomena deeper, and to innovate. I want to explore what I see, solve problems that have not been solved and create what has never been created before. I have learned to work with technology in an intuitive way."

So, what does this have to do with E-Learning and innovation?
We need to change the way that we relate to technology. If we see it as disconnected from ourselves, alien and a threat then education will never be free of its institutional inertia; innovation will not become a natural mindset. How we approach learning about technology and experiencing it must not continue to be from the first solitude but instead should come from the second one where we enjoy a digital symbiotic relationship with the technology because it has its origins in the most powerful technology known to man, the human mind. Leonardo da Vinci was considered a genius but take a close look at what he created; they were products of a powerful and divergent mind. They started there first.
Is the human mind flawless? No, we have made extraordinary efforts to limit it, incapacitate it and make it conform to superficial boundaries.
If we truly desire that the generations coming be agents of change and creators of new knowledge and skillsets, then we need to change how we relate to the technology in our lives. In doing this, we enrich societies and build futures.

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