Dennis D. McDonald (ddmcd@outlook.com) is an independent consultant located in Alexandria Virginia. His services and capabilities are described here. Application areas include project, program, and data management; market assessment, digital strategy, and program planning; change and content management; social media; and, technology adoption. Follow him on Google+. He also publishes on CTOvision.com and aNewDomain.

Teachers aren't the only people who should be worried about new technologies

Teachers aren't the only people who should be worried about new technologies

By Dennis D. McDonald

In Education in a Digital Age: How to Prepare the Next Generation for the Uncertain Things to Come Erik P.M. Vermeulen ruminates about what he should be teaching his students about technology given the "disruption" that various technologies are wreaking on traditional social and hierarchical structures.

As well thought out as this article is, such arguments for "changing education" are not new. That does not negate the need to pay attention to them  but should also make us ask, "What has really changed?" 

What has changed is that technology has become more democratized and supportive of self directed social interactions. These interactions can, in theory at least, operate independently of traditional hierarchical power structures -- such as teachers in classrooms. We must learn to control them or, as pundits have been warning us since the dawn of technology, "... they will control us." (Cue references to Mary Shelley, Fritz Lang, The Matrix, Ex Machina, Blade Runner, etc.)

Teaching students to manage themselves and their interactions with emerging technologies makes good sense as long as students are also taught to continually learn and to be aware when others (e.g., advertisers, Facebook, Russian trolls and bots, etc.) are more sophisticated than they in managing and using new technologies.

That said, one criticism I have of Vermeulen's short article is its relatively narrow focus on "technology" in terms of computing and electronics, at least at the beginning of the article. I would be equally concerned as Vermeulen is towards the end with understanding advances in genetic technologies and biology as well. Such technologies, as amply illustrated by Siddhartha Mukherjee in his excellent book The Gene: An Intimate History are already showing us how to alter both human and non-human life forms (insert second reference to Mary Shelley here).

Copyright (c) 2018 by Dennis D. McDonald. Also published at aNewDomain as Technology Isn’t The Only Thing Teachers Need To Worry About … .

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