Technology has become one of the most important aspects of human interaction. Students and adolescents have been affected by the technology that surrounds their daily lives. Both Turkle and Wesch discuss the effect technology has on students and their developmental process. Each professor takes a different stance on technology within student’s lives but both make great points.
Wesch states that media allows us to communicate and connect with one another in different ways depending on the medium. So when media changes so do our relationships with others. Wesch talks about students sitting in a college classroom. They are merely there to learn and gain knowledge that will be needed for the rest of their lives. While they are sitting in these seats the media bombards them. He argues that in an era of new media we need to go beyond critical thinking. We live in a mediated cultural world that makes it so much easier for us to connect and share with each other. Later in his talk, Wesch uses music as an explanation for the way that different contributions from all over the world can add up to something quite beautiful. This metaphor can play out in all different kinds of places within the media. The analogy shows what is possible between the ways in which the media connects many different people and technology. Wesch then uses this to explain a classroom setting. The walls that surround a classroom environment sends a message to students. The information that is in front of them being presented in the room is what they should be following along with and listening to. The message of the room is pretty clear that students should bow to the authority and follow, follow, follow. It is understood that walls and desks cannot talk but students can.
Wesch created a Google document called “a vision of students today” with his college students. He started the first line with ‘what is it like to be a student today?’ He then added his students to the document and allowed them to critique the high education in which they are involved. The class then made a video to explain how faulted higher education truly is. This video technology shows the class how easy is it to connect, organize, share, collaborate, and publish with so many different people online. However, it is technologically easy to connect with people but when you take away that aspect it is in fact really hard to really collaborate and publish something of worth. Students are not going to learn how to do these real things in the classroom because that is not what they learn to do. Wesch ends his talk with discussing a better way to educate students that leaves the realm of technology as a main part of education. He talks about presenting his students with real questions that he doesn’t even know the answer to. This allows them to think outside of the box and actually take part in the content that is being asked and presented to them. Teachers can then use the relevant tools to harness education through the media and technology that has become so important in the lives of students. At the end of the day, students need to understand that meaning is not something you find but its ultimately something you create yourself.
Turkle presents a similar TED Talk years after Wesch talking about how technology has affected human interaction. She explains that this is something we should be concerned about and something we should have a basic understanding of because it is setting us up for trouble. She believes that we are allowing technology to take us places that we don’t want to go. The technology in our pockets don’t change what we do but change who we are because of the power they hold. Students text, email, and go on Facebook during class time. This is taking away from having students full attention. They are being together while not being together. Turkle explains that as humans we want to control where we put our attention at all times, which technology allows us to do. She then talks about the Goldilocks effect, which means that you can keep people at a distance in amounts that can be controlled by the beholder. She explains this effect as not too close, not too far, but just right. But what may feel just right for an adult might not be the same for an adolescent who still needs to develop that face-to-face interaction. An eighteen-year-old boy who texts constantly explained to Turkle that someday he would love to learn how to have a face-to-face conversation.
Turkle goes on to explain the faults that people find within a face-to-face conversation. Individuals feel that conversations take place in real time where you cannot control what you are going to say. Texting allows you to edit and delete where you can retouch the face, voice, body, and flesh. We clean up human interaction and relationships with technology because of texting, emailing, and posting allows us to do so. We sacrifice conversation for mere connection. Due to the fact that texting allows us to shortchange ourselves over time, we forget about this aspect and therefore stop caring. This constant text communication is affecting the development of the adolescent brain. By showing students that they can edit real time they never have the chance to understand what it means to actually interact and communicate properly.
I think that both professors bring up some very valuable and key points in their talks about students and technology. As a student that grew up a millennial, I would have to agree that technology has been around for most of my educational years. I have had a laptop and cell phone in most of my classrooms since middle school. We find a way to hide behind a screen, which affects the way we learn and interact with others. I also liked how both of them talked about the importance of removing young people from this everyday reality by bringing more to education and the ways we teach. As a future educator, I believe that technology is the future of education. Technology can enhance a lesson and build a skill for children in so many unique ways as long as it is used in an effective manner.