In my last post I sort of mused about the problem of criminalizing technologies in schools (and viewing them, rightfully, as an opportunity to disengage as well as engage). The problem I have with some of the standard views I’ve seen in schools is that they decide that because something could be used for ill (a kid could, potentially, use a laptop in class to look at a social networking site or something) that they need to block the possibility entirely. Grade schools and high schools are not alone in this unfortunate action. My graduate work at a state university decided to universally block all torrents or other P2P (peer to peer) protocols (defined as liberally as they chose — and frequently far too liberally) because these “could” be used for illegal downloading/exchange of copyrighted materials. There’s a problem with this logic though: that the risk of allowing these protocols far exceeds the benefits of allowing them. The benefits are great indeed. Those technologies can quickly disseminate and exchange information over the world. Isn’t that what universities do?
At any rate, there is no doubt that things are changing. My son started life listening to music and now he likes watching it via any of the various video sites that stream music videos of children’s music. He points to the ones he wants. He knows them by their thumbnail images and a relevant line in the particular song he wishes to hear. This is his experience of music: on demand, image based, all the time, on any computer screen (not just one). I’m old enough to remember this not existing. The music came from a single, physical, identifiable source. It wasn’t easily transferable and certainly wasn’t image based. And all of this is ultimately (in aggregate) beneficial. So is technology in the classroom. Shutting off the internet shuts off learning. Let’s learn more.