Monday, March 10, 2008

Can technology stunt community growth and personal development?

Could it be that, despite the rising importance and inarguable necessity of technological advancement, we are actually doing harm to society?

We know technological advancement is good, and makes some things possible that could never have been dreamed of even 10 years ago. In education as well, this has created new ways of delivering content and, to a certain extent, revolutionised schooling - just look at CIDA as an example of the benefits.

Reading this post about online education by Jeremy from Huddlemind Labs, as well as this article about e-learning by the Department of Education, it's obvious that this is a part of our future, and probably a very big part at that.

The big flashing warning sign - if we take education online and remove students from interactive classes, how will they develop the ability to interact at a social level? It's already difficult enough with kids in schools interacting with others every day. But if half of the children were to sit at home with little interaction, we must be cautious of raising a generation of individualistic loners with no ability to communicate with others, let alone function as part of a team.

This is not an argument against using technology to educate, but rather just a thought that this needs to be managed as we make these changes. I believe that this is a huge opportunity sitting and waiting to be developed - the management of children's social and educational development at the same time. If a workable solution can be created, not only can we improve education throughout the country, reaching far and wide, but also improve the strength of community and thereby improve everyone's quality of life.

[And with all the talk of "free" around and SA's [slow] move towards free education, here's a link to something I wrote a while ago: what is mahala education actually worth?]

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