Educational Technology: More Questions Than Answers (Part 2)

Article

March, 2021

Educational Technology: More Questions Than Answers (Part 2)

The first part of the concern can be understood in the historical context – history does not only tell us of the past; it also helps us understand our present and visualize our future. Homo sapiens are the evolved species of the animal kingdom – vertically upright backbone turning the two front-legs into hands, greater finger dexterity because of the thumbs and cognitive development to the extent of metacognition are some of the marked features that separate them from other animals. Making full use of these features, human beings have changed the world in such a way in last two thousand years that we talk of this universe being anthropocentric.
They have been treating non-human species unfairly denying space, right and freedom which is their due as they are the ones like us except a few features and this earth belongs to them as much as it belongs to us. The fear is that technology, if it becomes master of its own, may treat humanity in the same callous way. WHY NOT? But there is a logical fallacy in the analogy using which we are deriving this apprehension of future.

Homo sapiens are the result of a process of organic evolution where the differently/more evolved organism dealt unfairly with the other organisms. In case of technology, it will be an inorganic revolution rather than the organic evolution. This logical fallacy cannot categorically negate the possibility of technology illtreating human beings, but it can help us in understanding our apprehensions better that are histrophobic in nature.

The second part of the concern is exactly the reverse of the first one – human being using technology as their slave rather than technology enslaving humans. The direction and pace at which AI is developing, there is no reason to doubt the possibility of a technologically created robot (or being?) which can not only do certain things at our commands, but the one that can feel pain and pleasure, can think analytically and creatively – acquire consciousness. Will it be fair to treat such a robot as callously as sending them to diffuse a time bomb or to fight in war zone as we do with technology today? Won’t there be a moral question of their rights to be answered? Despite the difference between organic and inorganic matter, once they have consciousness how shall we be able to distinguish them from human beings?

For all practical purposes they will be like us, except the one difference of organic-inorganic. In case we recognize them as beings, if not human beings, shall we accord them rights and violate their rights shamelessly as we are doing with other species? Should we then not make a new entry in our dictionary in the name of ‘specism’ on the lines of ‘racism’? Let me make it clear that  I am talking about an ethical-moral issue and not a legal one as legally granting ‘personhood’ to robots will be a different matter altogether.

The last concern about the use of technology in education is a mixed bag – Will it not prove to be an additional burden on teachers who believe themselves to be already overworked? Will it not consume more and more time of teachers and students eating into the time and space where actual teaching/learning takes place? Will it not be a health hazard both for the teachers and students as they will be spending more and more time on computers/laptops/mobiles? Some of these concerns or aspects of them may overlap with the categories of concerns discussed above, but they are thrown as fresh challenges. Looked at it in perspective one can easily see that rather than adding to the burden of the teachers it will help them manage their work with greater efficiency and ease. They will have knowledge, information, ideas and appropriate tools and resources which they can use inside their classrooms effectively to achieve the teaching/learning objectives.

They will not have to spend longer hours that they do today in developing these resources like worksheets for their students. Teachers will also be able to manage and share quickly and easily various types of information and data frequently sought by the administrators. Altogether technology has the potential to reduce the burden of teachers rather than increasing it as is misunderstood and teachers will have greater time at their disposal to work with their students. The next concern of this group is based on a misplaced notion that technology will be doing things separately and will consume time which will lead to the shrinking of the teaching/learning time and space.

In fact, technology will be integrated in the teaching/learning process and will be used by the teachers and students in such a way that will help them save time in learning through various ways and means which they might use to learn more or to go to a deeper level of the concept concerned. Third concern of this group is related to the impact of technology on the physical and mental health of the users. True it is that spending too much time on technological gadgets like computer/laptop/mobile can cause health issues. But it is more a question of judicious use of technology which we need to learn and teach rather than a negative impact of technology.

Finally, educational technology definitely has a future in which lie potentials that we are scratching now at the surface only. I have made an attempt to visualize educational technology that will be defined by its service to learning. As such, education will provide a framework for selecting and using technology, regardless of whether the technology in question is, a machine, a technique, or an innovative idea.

There, I am sure, is much more to this and many more dimensions of the issue which will be taken up by scholars and academicians in future with greater clarity and preciseness. This piece should be read as an exhortation to all those who are working in the field of education or are concerned about it to think and come up with ideas and proposals about how to integrate technology into education rather than being apprehensive of it or pointing out its limitations which might be true to some extent. The direction and some examples of educational technology in future indicated here may not be easy to believe today, but who could have believed in 3500 BC that one day Pharaoh will not be there? or in 15th century that the world is heliocentric rather than geocentric?

About Author:

DR RAJESH KUMAR
Lead Academics at EdIndia Foundation.

Dr Rajesh worked as a teacher of English in colleges and universities in India and abroad. He also worked with Digantar and Azimpremji Foundation as the Executive Director and Education Specialist respectively

DR RAJESH KUMAR
Lead Academics at EdIndia Foundation.

About Author:

Dr Rajesh worked as a teacher of English in colleges and universities in India and abroad. He also worked with Digantar and Azimpremji Foundation as the Executive Director and Education Specialist respectively

Find it interesting? Share it!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Talk, Contribute, Innovate

TechConnect is supported by EdIndia Foundation. It is an independent Newsletter initiative highlighting “at scale” work of edu-tech innovators and inspiring efforts of teachers and practitioners, working at government and affordable schools as well as policymakers of India.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Add Your Heading Text Here