Academic Technology

I remember an interesting conversation. Some of us will become stock brokers, and others doctors, and some dancers, and others artists. In those professions, we might chat with colleagues about our opinions in the field. Conversely, everyone has an opinion about education. We’ve all experienced one form of schooling or another, and we all have an opinion based mostly on childhood experiences.

Given how personal technology is commonplace in the homes, in the workplace, and on one’s person, I’m wondering if we aren’t all developing opinions about technology. Like educational experiences, it’s becoming a common social denominator. I once heard that “guys” used to work in the garage on cars with their sons, but now it’s computers that are built or tweaked out. (Of course, given the volume and type of car ads on television, some one thinks they are still a social denominator).

As I work on technology in school, I wonder if we don’t all need more definition. Kids and their parents use a lot of technology at home for a wide range of things (work, communication, play, and more), and there is a lot of exploration going on. At school, we could recreate a similar range of choices, but really we need more defined goals. That’s why I’ve been thinking more of what “academic technology” means. I love to read novels to relax, but academic reading is different. Academic writing, mathematics and research are also different.

It comes back to the concept that schools don’t introduce children to computers, nor teach them how to use them. We do have a role, however, in clearly focusing that use. There can still be exploration and discovery and enthusiasm, but our mission is academic. As a friend once noted, “Not all work is going to be a pleasure, and we shouldn’t pretend it will be.”

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