02 September 2010


After my first day of my digital civilization class, I have a few more thoughts that I want to add to that last post about Tibetans and More, specifically to the ideas of new worlds and Utopias.

We, today, generally seek to improve education. We essentially seek a Utopian classroom in which students learn collaboratively, engagingly, and effectively. The new technology tools for classrooms, like companion websites for textbooks, iclickers, and blackboard are meant to enhance the classroom experience and improve education for students. So, in the same vein of a Utopia, the ideal classroom is one that we desire that doesn't quite exist. From my contacts in India, I understand that Tibetans are certainly interested in the possibility of technology improving education for their children. In our minds, the ideal classroom (a new world of fantastic learning, a Utopia) certainly involves technology. I can hardly imagine college without powerpoint (whether or not it is effective notwithstanding). My high school calculus teacher had some sort of smart board that conveniently allowed each of us to watch him solve a problem without the cumbers of a traditional white board. In both small and large ways, technology is central to progress in the classroom.

So, why? Why do we, along with Tibetans see a holy grail in classroom technology? Given that some technologies actually improve the classroom, which ones detract? (I, for one, have always been overwhelmed by companion websites, particularly when my teachers never address them. I discussed this problem on Mike Lemon's great blog.) To what extent does classroom technology's association with Western progress determine its marked position in the center of the Utopian classroom?


  1. Those are some excellent points and questions!

    I'm currently looking into a Masters Program at Virginia Tech and I was surprised to learn that the entire program is virtual!

    Even as an IT Major, I think that there must be some line drawn in the sand concerning classroom technology. As wonderful as sitting in front of a computer ALL day sounds, there is something that is missing from teacher-student interaction.

  2. It sounds like this feeds directly into our conversation last period about social interaction via the internet. I remember us discuss how contacts can be made through the internet, but we never really developed into where to go from there. I don't think, like Brad mentioned, that a whole relationship can, or should, be based off of online interactions. For a humorous example of this listen to Brad Paisley's song "Online".

  3. Brad and Erin, I agree. There is something missing in our lives when we become too "plugged in" and impersonal. We are social creatures, and media like facebook can be great to facilitate social interactions between persons who otherwise could not have contact, such as me and my contacts in India. I believe we take it too far when facebook becomes the default social interaction among people who have ample opportunity for real life interaction.

  4. I think its also interesting how some people can become so connected to the digital world that they don't develop the social skills that are necessary outside of it.There definitely needs to be a balance.