Technology & Content: The Classical Struggle
The Myth Discussed Herein Takes Many Forms:
- Technology is only the medium, or
- Tech must be primarily used for its value within a didactic context, or
- Tech must be used in a humanistic setting.
All these are but one manifestation of the same old bullshit.
I conversed these myths with George Siemens on Piñones beach, sipping a cold Corona (he only drank soda, btw). I was saying “That is an illusion”. Tech is immersed in our world, which is made of human-made technologies like language, paper-based writing, car-driving, and more. Thus, first there’s no “humanistic” tech, because all technology is humanistic. Says Kevin Kelly: “Humanity is our first technology; We are tools.” Pretty strong idea, right? In a few words: Technology is what defines our being human. Have we ever seen a technology not used in a “humanistic” fashion? Even the atomic bomb was ultimately dropped for humanitarian reasons. Further, the “humanistic” adjective may imply there is some non-humanistic technology out there. Where exactly?
Second, there’s only the illusion of separation between technology & the_other_stuff. We use tech and are used by it. Remember McLuhan? The medium is the message? Continuity of medium onto content? Then, continuity of tech onto tech’s operands. Remember Wittgenstein? “Language is the limit to our world”. Language is a technology; we use it, so we shape it. However, it also shapes our world and gives it boundaries.
Now, if there’s continuity between tech and tech-mediated stuff (which is everything around us), it makes not much sense to have the usual model of instructional technology as the box which takes some content input and processes it into a well-designed, pedagogically-sound course. Why not? Because a course must be constructed from within technology, and not from a dualistic process that separates content from technology. It’s just plain wrong, produces but behaviorist coursexperiences and doesn’t help our holistic coursevolution.
The Connectivist approach at instructional tech, I feel (and apparently Siemens agrees) resolves the conundrum and has the guts to propose a different idea for IT. Perhaps even suggests to call it “learning technology”. Says Siemens: “A good learning strategy is a good learning tech”.
Additionally, what happens when content becomes freely or cheaply available through ubiquitous tech such as cellphones? Perhaps, like Dolors Reig likes to say, asking good questions is the real issue to learning.