Wednesday, December 5, 2012

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Seymour Papert Interview

First of all, I never would have guessed that this interview was conducted over ten years ago.  It is surprising that the information Papert says is still so relevant today.  He is speaking about something that has seemed to grown in leaps and bounds over the last ten years but at the same time it seems as though the interview could have been done yesterday.

Papert emphasizes the unbelievable amount young children can learn.  How children are self directed learners taking in the whole world and how the computer will only facilitate this.  I completely agree.  He uses the example of seeing an elephant and the child wonders how does the elephant eat.  By using the computer the child can teach themselves this.  Similarly to how they teach themselves about the world around them but instead they need the internet.  I think it is important to expose young children to the internet at a young age.  Especially in today's world with the amount of technology we rely on and what a valuable skill becoming technologically literate has become.  If we were not to expose young children to computers, technology. etc. we would be doing them a great disservice   I think it is important though to balance the amount children learn from the internet and make sure they are still learning about the world around them by actually experiencing the world around him.

I found it really interesting that Papert says in his book, The Connected Family that the internet can actually bring a family together.  I couldn't disagree more with this claim.  I think that the internet allows each individual to find more people like themselves (whether it is their friends, or other people they meet online with common interests) and the individual spends all of their time socializing, etc. with those person.  In no way does it bring the family closer.  Also, a lot of times parents are nervous to use the internet or new technology because they don't understand how to use it whereas kids seem to be able to pick it up like it's nothing and really enjoy it.  I think that this causes even more of a divide in the family as opposed to connecting the family.

I see his prediction for what technology will do for schools beginning to come true and I think that it will grow as we move towards the future.  The only part I disagree with would be the idea that the age divide will disappear.  I don't think this will ever happen.  I think that as people get older they begin to fear new things (whether it is technology or not).  So although children like technology now and pick it up quickly and without any reservations, when these same children are 60 their will be new technology that they are not accustomed to and they will not be so willing to learn it.  I'm not sure we will ever get over the age divide.

Overall, I am surprised at how much of the information Papert says is still relevant today.  Although I agree with many of his points about the usefulness of technology in learning and how technology should be incorporated into young children's lives, I don't think that it brings families closer and I don't think it will banish the age divide.

Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives

A survey was conducted in which a non random sample of 1,021 people were given two passages to decide which they believed was more true.  The first passage, which 55% of the surveyors agreed with said that in the year 2020 people would benefit from this hyper connected world because they would be able to multitask and find the answers to deep questions due to the fact that they have the knowledge of so many people via the internet.  The other passage which 42% of the surveyors agreed with said that in the year 2020 people will see negative outcomes from technology.  People will spend a majority of their time using social media as opposed to thinking critically and connecting deeply with other people as well as becoming completely dependent on these devices.  There was no choice for a middle ground which afterwords some of the surveyors said is how they actually see it unfolding, making the results a bit closer to split evenly.

I would say that I agree it will be somewhat in the middle.  Peoples brain will be wired in a totally different way in 2020 than in the past.  If I had to chose though, I would say that our hyper connected world will lead to negative outcomes.  I think that it will be impossible to thrive in the world in 2020 without having these skills but I'm not sure that this will be a good thing.  Already I see a lot of these negative characteristics in my classes.  I teach ninth grade and students need that instant gratification, with everything.  The other day we did a lab where there was  fifteen minutes for students to wait and answer questions before they could see the outcome.  They all whined and complained that they wanted to see it now.  Another example is, the other day we used the iPads for a lesson.  One iPad working a little slower than normal.  The student said he was sick of waiting and would just do it on his phone.  I am already seeing this lack of patience and a need for instant gratification.

One example the survey gave that would be a positive outcome is the ability to multitask.  I am not sure that I consider multitasking to be a positive trait.  I think that it is better to concentrate on one task and do it well.  There is a much higher probability that something will get messed up if you're trying to do several things, even if this is how you're programmed.

Lastly, I see a hyper connected world causing more social divide by 2020.  It is bad enough as it is but now everyone feels the need to by iPhones and have iPads, computers, etc.  Many people and even schools can not afford it.  So those who can not afford it will be even worse off in 2020 because they definitely won't be marketable for jobs.

 I would say that I fall somewhere in the middle on my opinion of the outcomes of technology in 2020. If I had to chose though, I see the high reliance on technology causing negative effects.  It creates people that need things now.  They need instant gratification and have no patience.  Also, it will increase the social divide, and increase multitasking, which I don't see as being a good thing.