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Posts Tagged ‘cyborg

Learning how to integrate technology effectively is not easy. When more informed people try to describe to less informed people what technology integration might look like, the former tend to use analogies.

There used to be the warning not to put the technological cart before the pedagogical horse. This soon got replaced by the car model of pedagogical driver and technological accelerator. The problem with this newer model is that pedagogy and technology are kept too separate.

What teachers and educators of teachers need to realise is that the two are integrated with each other as well as other components.

One of the better models of technology integration is TPACK. Effective technology integration lies at the nexus of technology, pedagogy, and content, and when all three are embedded in authentic contexts.

But even this model has been critiqued as inadequate. For example, there is a more learning-focused model (PDF).

The cart and car models rely on current thinking. TPACK and its variants are more conceptual and highlight important elements, but they are not as easy to relate to as analogies.

I offer a different analogy to challenge old assumptions. We should be thinking about technology integration like augmented humans, i.e., cyborgs. I do not mean the dystopian or fantasy-driven cyborgs that destroy the human race. I mean the cyborgs that we already are or are becoming.

We already rely on our phones to remember phone numbers, schedules, and a host of other details. We have augmented our memories. We are not 100% human if we have devices to pump or clean our blood, strengthen a limb, replace a limb, help us see, help us hear, help us speak, etc.

We actually think of ourselves as less human or even not human (suffering or dead) if we do not have these technologies to aid or enable us to do what is human.

Technology integration is like a cyborg. The technology alone or the pedagogy alone is useless without the other. These are also pointless without the other constituent parts like content, context, and connections.

Development in any one of these areas can push the other parts. If we are honest, the technological component is often what drives and pushes for change. Who is to say that pedagogy should reign the technology in just because an older model says so?

The cyborg model of technology integration in schools and educational contexts is itself an integration of important moving and enabling parts. There are factors teaching, learner, learning, content, contextual, connective, and technological. One is not more important than another. To remove or ignore one is to create a Frankenstein’s monster.

Thanks to a timely tweet by @sweekin, I watched this TED talk by Amber Case who shared her work on cyborg anthropology.

It’s really not as intimidating as it might sound. In many ways, she echoes what Clive Thompson and others have written about.

I’ll paraphrase a line from a TV series: Resistance is futile, we are already being assimilated. But unlike TV or movie cyborgs, I agree with Case that our technologies are helping us become more human, not less.

When I drafted this blog entry about two weeks ago, I had read (or reread):

What jumped out of the digital pages at me was Thompson’s declaration that

The most brilliant entities on the planet… are neither high-end machines nor high-end humans. They’re average-brained people who are really good at blending their smarts with machine smarts.

We shape tools and the tools are increasingly shaping us, e.g., consider how mobile devices are changing our behaviours. As lonely as being on a computer might seem, we are part of a collective as we move in and out of hive minds, e.g., the blogosphere, the Twittersphere, the Facebook realm.

We are cyborgs in that sense. Not the scary type that movies portray, but the more insidious sort that co-evolves with technology.

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