The revolution will not be televised but it will be on social media

With apologies to Gil Scott-Heron, but I had to start somewhere.
I have a few colleagues who proudly declare that they ‘would never use PowerPoint’, or that you would never find them on Twitter or Facebook. It’s fine by me if people don’t want to play, but what strikes me is that the people who make these pronouncements do so “proudly”. For them, it seems, ignoring technology is a badge of honour to be shown at every opportunity.
I don’t quite understand this antipathy. These same people use mobile phones (‘but only for making phone calls, oh and the occasional photie’), and drive cars (‘but only if they come with a starting handle’). Alright, I might have made some of that up. My point is that even those who claim to be technophobes make daily use of technology and even accept that their car might need to go to the garage occasionally, or their subscription to a favourite channel might not work everytime.
But, when it comes to educational technology, they are having none of it. No ipad (only some of the most technophobic people I know do have ipads), no Twitter or Facebook accounts to contact their students and no PowerPoint in their lecture rooms.
I am not a technology evangelist, I am happy for people to stick their heads in the sand if that is their wont (provides somewhere to park your bike at least), but if something is likely to make you better at doing your job, why would you refuse to use it? I am puzzled, not so much by people’s refusal to use specific social media (after all it can be pretty daunting keeping up with it all even for those of us who are relatively enthusiastic), but their refusal to use all social media as if it, and by extension technology itself, was evil personified (or robotised, I suppose).
It’s my view that the time for asking whether we should use technology is gone, the only questions worth asking now are which technologies and how best to make use of them?

PS This is my first blog on WordPress, I quite like it, and, learning from past errors I am committing to blogging often, but in fewer words.

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One thought on “The revolution will not be televised but it will be on social media

  1. A fine first post Dave, you make some valuable points. My own position is that of a technophile (I love exploring the creative possibilities of various technologies), although I am no without scepticism either (in the original sense of that word, meaning I want to be convinced by reason and evidence, not that I am totally closed-minded, which seems to be its new meaning!). Certainly in Education moving forward I think technology is going to be increasingly a part of the job, and hard to resist, so you might as well have some fun playing with it! Having said that, for me the key word is “creative”, i.e. what you can do with it. The most powerful technology of all is human consciousness (the exploration of which will be one of the key ‘Apollo projects’ for the next century or two, in my humble opinion). And technology is essentially a creative extension of our psyche, to enable it to express itself more. Just like the hand and extendable thumb gives us a powerful capacity to express our ideas through the capacity to use tools (one thing Dolphins for example can’t do, though they do seem to have quite a lot of fun anyway). Technology offers additional tools – the key is the wisdom, wit, and creative skill with which we employ them. As such, I always ask with any technology, not ‘is it flavour of the month’, but ‘What can I do with it? Can I do things I couldn’t do before, or in a better, quicker way, or reaching a wider audience?’. If so, I’m willing to engage in the learning curve to explore it (some technologies may prove beyond my reasonable capacity, but I’m at least willing to give it a try). If not, or if I think some of the individuals behind certain companies are untrustworthy (I’m looking at you, Mr Z), then I’m more cautious. Some technologies are often used in facile ways (Twittering what you have just had for breakfast, or engaging in endless Facebook update so your ‘friends’ know what you are doing, to the detriment of actual social activity) – though even there, both can have potentially valuable roles, Twitter used as a tool for spreading political freedom. PowerPoint offers immense creative possibilities, but also ‘death by PowerPoint’ to someone just droning through reading out every slide put up – which is a fine cure for insomnia, but not an effective way of communicating. But the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars (or our technologies), but ourselves – it’s up to us to use them creatively and expressively.

    – Am just realizing that my long posts not really suited for replies to a blog, I should start a blog of my own – off to sign up with WordPress!

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