Balance, Technology and Learning

Balance is important. We are all well aware of this fact! We talk about it all the time in our everyday lives. We mention it in reference to food we eat, hours of the day we spend working and resting, money we earn and spend. Balance is tightly integrated in human systems. What reminded me importance of balance is an article published in 'Time Online' last week. It is not the first time though that media distributed work from this author on this topic. The article stirred a lot of activity on Twitter, probably due to the use of word 'hoax' with a big $ figure attached to the title.

Time Online article 31 August 2016
Time Online article 31 August 2016

In my opinion this was deliberate. A catchy title with a monetary figure is obviously going to get people talking. Money is also important to humans. Probably more important than 'balance'! Get them alarmed about financial impact of anything and they will pay attention, change habits and go to great lengths in order to save money. Fear is a great tool for control and command!

Unfortunately, not many people who shared this article through their social media channels actually commented on it or provided their opinion. Fear again? of speaking their minds or perhaps they are not sure about their position on this topic. What alarmed me most is that it is the educators, administrators and people related to schools - the centres of learning for our young generations - who noticed and spread this article but at the same time refrained from providing their thoughts.

I would have liked Time to allow 'comments on this article so someone could pick up the debate providing readers, who could be parents of young children, more food for thought and assist them in reaching a 'balanced' view of the situation.

Yes, as parents, we are all guilty of using technology as our replacement in order to avoid providing the active engagement our children seek but can we blame technology for this? As schools, districts and governments we are responsible for playing into the hands of tech businesses and happily 'spraying and praying' - in words of Alan November. Isn't this due to the absence of 'balance'? Aren't these poor choices made by those put in power of our 'learning centres' and why don't we question them? instead of blaming technology!

I have seen Sir Winston Churchill quoted around many classrooms

"He who fails to plan is planning to fail"

and yet we have such sensational writings by intellects like Dr. Nick Kardaras failing to dig deeper into the subject and providing some constructive debate on the topic.

Technology, as in electronic computing technology, is all around us these days and we all know that it's impact is only going to grow. In last twenty years this world has exponentially increased not only the computational speeds and data storage but also miniaturised the devices at the same rate putting a computer in everyone's hand, near permanently connected to the 'information highway'. Advancement in computing technologies has brought revolutionary and permanent changes in our lives today and it seems we are increasingly thirsty for more!

Does it even seem wise to blame technology for all the risks to our next generation when we ourselves are heavily dependant on technology? When we know that our children will be even more 'hyperconnected' than ourselves?

I prefer the approach of the people in this 'World Economic Forum' from video above, who understand that technology is not going away and we have to adapt and find ways of finding the 'balance' in our lives with this new reality!

Education, as we know it will be an entirely different animal in 5-10 years from now and we have to brace ourselves for this change. I am afraid if we keep getting excited about tech fear mongering we will be wasting our precious time which shall be allocated instead in the process of accepting the change and implementing it in our schools through teacher training and specialist tech coaching. We need to accept that technology is here to stay and it will change the way we learn, create and share knowledge. We need to find the balance where we use technology for our benefit and not letting tech companies use us for theirs. Parents, teachers and school administrators need to spend more time and energy in making sure that our children are being guided in the use of technology and not living a sedentary lifestyle due to it. Screen and online time has to be managed and these skills have to be coached by experts in this field and learned - not only by the young ones but adults too 🙂

this article is cross posted on Muhammad's personal website