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Stalled by Fear July 10, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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dog   David Thornburg, in a recent article in eSchool News, suggests that educational tech has been stalled by ‘fear’ of change. Actually, that was just the handle designed to pull you in. The real issue David Thornburg brings up is that in education we appear to be using new technologies and tools simply to do things we had done before in much more efficient ways. We now use word processors instead of typewriters to improve our ability to write more clearly but we are not using the resources of other learners and our new access to images and information to get students engaged with learning on new, hitherto unimagined levels. 

In his interview he also talks about the improved practicability of brining those tools into schools in a cost efficient manner. There is no longer any reason to hold our schools to a 1 to 4 ratio of computers to students. Thornburg points out that the average cost for textbooks is money that can easily be put toward leasing computers for every student in the school. He sees fear from a parental community derailing many efforts at bringing educational technology and its accompanying changes to schools. This morning I came face to face with that fear through an article in our local newspaper (which I read online). The fear factor was the influence of uncontrolled video sharing sites like YouTube and others. To highlight the fear the article suggests that parents were reporting videos of animal cruelty.  Having watched a share of these momentarily popular videos, I believe I know the ones to which the article refers. In one, a woman is walking a mechanical dog down a busy city sidewalk. It looks like a very realistic fluffy dog. After the scene is set, a man runs up behind her and kicks the dog down the street. The point of the video is to get reaction shots from passersby and, of course, they are outraged. The video was a prank that now has been transformed into a tirade against video sharing sites.  

There are also a few other sites using trick photography to show dogs being kicked like soccer balls in support of soccer fever. The videos are adolescent and dumb, but there is cruelty then there is simply tasteless. The reporter for the article took at face value a report of cruelty and used it to fan the flames of ignorance. And they wonder why I don’t subscribe to their newspaper.

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