As I read the articles on various types of literacies–including multiliteracies and the dominant literacy of Standard English in academia, I began to ask myself how MUCH is TOO MUCH technology in the classroom. I’ve noticed a few other fellow bloggers have addressed this question as well. My concern is less about reconciling edu. theory with what Pawan and Honeyford refer to as “New Literacies” and more about how I rarely think of technology as an educational tool for college students.
Perhaps this is because 99% of the research my nine-year-old daughter does for her school projects is conducted on Wikipedia rather than other sources. And for me, this works out just fine; her research requirements are often simple, and easy to catch any misinformation or assumptions on the part of the author(s), because I have enough background knowledge to do so. But for college students to rely on such sources of information–and quite possible taking such sources at face value, without critically questioning the authority of the text and/or seeking out other sources to confirm or disprove ideas/assertions–prevents them from digging deeper into what they are exploring.
Why is that? I mean, after all, Wikipedia is an EXCELLENT example of socially constructed knowledge. But is that how students see it? I don’t know… I tend to think students use the site because it’s easy to find stuff on Wikipedia. It’s instant. It’s satisfying. It provides answers. For these reasons, there’s not a lit of critical reflection POSSIBLE in this type of internet-based research. Also, when information can be accessed so easily, at the touch of a button or whisk of a finger across a screen, it does not inspire much motivation on the part of the student.
I don’t know how this turned into a Wikipedia rant. I like Wikipedia; I just think it is too uniformly misutilized. Looking something up on Wikipedia does not mean students are aware of or using inquiry-based learning.
Of course, I do like the idea of collaborative technology, especially because of its focus on non-school literacies (Reynolds & Werner). However, in-class communities are, to me, far more valuable a learning tool than blogging or posting comments on ilearn posts, or even socially constructing knowledge via wikis. When students are present in the discussion, in real-time, they are having an actual lived experience, which cements learning in ways distance-learning does not.