MInd your language!

Two re-occuring terms I keep encountering are ‘integrating technology’ and ‘cyber-culture’. I am never sure if they are used to be astute or divisive. Perhaps they should be retired from the discourse of educational technology entirely.

‘Integrating technology’ seems an odd term, as technology is itself empty. It presumes there are at least two components to combine (technology plus something). All to often, we here people talk about ‘Integrating technology into teaching’.

A more evocative term is ‘integral technology’ – as technology today is not a peripheral to be combined, nor is it empty, but abundant with information, services, access and purpose.

‘Cyberculture’ notionally suggests online technology users are part of divergent cybernetic system. The term is steeped in fictional perceptions and suspicion of technology. It is interpretative and contrastive –  used to infer both strangeness and fresh-originality, depending on the agenda of the writer/speaker and is almost always contextual.

To describe it as a ‘culture’ is problematic, with multiple meanings. It could refer to intellectual achievements, conditions suitable for growth, exposure to ‘the arts’ or a refined, sophistication.

A more suspicious mind may morphologically relate it with negativity – ‘drug-culture’ for example – as popular media often tries to demote groups of society which do not directly support their ideology – which is unavoidably biased, due to institutional ownership and the personal belief those directing it.We also associate ‘cyber’ negatively – cyber-sex, cyber-crime, cyber-virus – horrid things that combine technology (especially electronic communication) with some dubious social action. Participants are rarely identified in a positive light, but as ‘cyberpunks’ – individuals in a lawless subculture in an oppressive society, dominated by computer technology – usually with malice.

Both ‘integrating technology’ and ‘cyberculture’ are fashionable terms – but feel dated.

Those teachers who are filling technology with meaning and see it as integral to learning -become more informed, self-directed, conversant and knowledgeable. They are clued into a generation who has, and is – growing up with technology and online communities as an integral part of life. The disappointing reality is the personal cost of doing it, is not reflected or recognised much of the time by ignorant human resource policy and belief.

Children easily differentiate the past from the present, fantasy from reality and are adept distinguishing effective from in-effective teachers.

Youth-online has become self-directed and self-interested in learning to use technology; most teachers are used to, and assume their own learning will be directed though ‘professional development’.

Those who don’t, who have taken personal control, are constrained at work by institutional demands, policy and belief. I think that these two terms too often dominate and fail to accurately reflect or encourage substantial consideration or exploration of the pedagogical change by the majority – which I would put as high as 90% of all teachers.

Increasing change comes at a cost. Right now, those exploring ‘beyond the basic’ are picking up the bill. Of the multiple scenarios being offered, a prediction made in 2008, by the PEW “Future of the Internet III” report – holds continued sway with me.

“The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who’s connected, and the results will be mixed in terms of social relations.”

We can’t call avoiders Luddites -as they don’t rally or smash technology with a hammer. They simply avoid all engagement, unless directed – then dis-engage as soon as possible – like going to a party where you hate the music, people and conversation – “is it too soon to leave?”.

Avoiderculture sees technology as separate according to the cyberculturals, whom are in turn seen as a small group of radicals who need to get a real life. This has been going on for decades, so perhaps we should blame Thatcher, The Sex Pistols and William Gibson too.

Technology is yet to be integral to the design of norm-curriculum – but set aside. ACARA is yet to propose any teacher or student standards for technology capabilities beyond verbose motherhood statements, choosing to focus on politically more palatable and ‘do-able’ subjects such as English and History. They are not even suggesting ISTE NETs as a guideline.

I’m opting out of any conversation that talks about ‘integrating technology’ or ‘cyberculture’, unless there is real discussion about what this actually means to change them (and action). Almost certainly the conversation is starting from an assumption, that I really don’t feel comfortable with anymore – and burned out having. Wow, making decisions to avoid really is empowering!


One thought on “MInd your language!

  1. I also no longer respond to discussions where people mention “21st century learning” and related terms. We are looking to the future in these folks’ minds, but I am IN it. It is a sure sign they are going to ask about “integrating.” Argh

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