Utopia? Dystopia? Humanism? Transhumanism? What is happening in the world? What choices do we, and will we have? Medical technology has helped save the lives of thousands of people throughout the years. And with every advent of new technology, we see advances in medicine. Our lives have been extended by many years due to this technology. Is this what we want? Is medical technology too invasive? Do we want the world to know all our physical/mental/emotional maladies? Is there a point at which we need to stop? Wasn’t that argument raised when Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996? Oh my, pretty soon they’ll be cloning humans and those “cloned” humans won’t be human at all as they will have been chemically reproduced. Or so the fearmongers wrote. So, what makes us human and how do humans differ from non-humans? As we watched the videos “Robbie” and “Gumdrop,” are those computerized beings human? Are they alive? I think we’d all agree that they are not. Steven Fuller couldn’t really define what being “human” means. There have been different philosophies on the topic, but can any of us fully and adequately describe what a “human” is? Will technology help pull us humans together or will it create isolationism?
I have read many articles on technology in our educational circles. Way back when, we used to have “correspondence courses” (distance education) in some of our for-profit post-secondary schools (1970s). Many of those post-secondary schools using a “correspondence” format weren’t accredited by our educational standards, as the courses weren’t long enough and didn’t have accountability standards. And the schools had a profit motive. And, those post-secondary schools offering remote education were looked down upon. But, by the 1990s, technology started flourishing and became much more prevalent in our everyday lives – the workplace, our cars, our homes, and our education, as well. We found that our kids understood how to program our VCRs and how to program our microwave ovens much more easily than we adults could. As the world became faster and more global, distance education (what is now called online learning) came much more into vogue. Non-profit institutions with prestigious names started offering online courses. And because this is the way of the world today, we need to promote technology in our schools – in our universities, our high schools, our middle schools, our elementary schools, and our pre-schools. Technology is now monumental in our everyday lives. Teaching styles evolved from straight lectures to more interactive learning, involving technology through videos, e-books, social media, and more – flipped classrooms, blended learning, internships. Instead of teaching the old “Readin’, Writin’, and ‘Rithmetic,” we now need to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math so students are prepared to enter our workplaces ready to tackle new advances in medical technology to help prolong and save lives. However, we also need to teach them to think, to analyse, to create, and to think “outside the box” so that the right brain is combined with the left brain to innovate and invent technological wonders we can’t even imagine today.
Does that leave room for the teacher in our educational system? How effective is e-learning for our students? How effective are MOOCs? And are MOOCs the next wave of higher education? And is this what we need? And want? My personal philosophy is……”Everything in balance.” I love technology. I was excited when I found out about this iPhone attachment and asked my doctor if she knew about it? She did not, but she was thrilled to see this video and is following up with one of her vendors to find out if it’s available to the public. This type of technology can help to prolong my life and I want to live forever! To me, this technology is absolutely utopic. And by merely inserting a particle the size of a grain of sand into my bloodstream, my body may be able to be monitored 24/7 for any impending health calamities that could need immediate attention. That is fantastic! And our teachers can guide us through the nuts and bolts of data and information and allow us to see new perspectives and creative applications of this information and data. But, my opinion is, there should be self-implemented limits on how much technology dominates our lives. Invasive technology gets in the way of face to face contact. I do still enjoy personal meetings with friends. I love taking long walks along the beach and having conversations with my husband and I get dismayed when he and I are talking and I see his eyes dart to his iPhone to check his email. But a grain of sand in my bloodstream monitoring my body is not invasive technology, to me.
I am a neophyte to MOOCs. I love the freedom with this MOOC and I know online education takes a lot of self-discipline. I’m not convinced this is right for all students. I prefer blended learning methodologies and I admire our course teachers who added the Hangouts for us to see them “as real people” amongst the videos, articles, and 42000 students.
Acknowledgments: NBC News for the video presentation attached to this blog; Karl Fisch (modified by Scott McLeod) for “Shift Happens; Did You Know” (2007-2012).