[tweetmeme style=”compact” source=”carl_robinson”]I read the following quote in the Times’ In Gear section today:
mutually assured distraction: NOUN When two or more individuals who are ostensibly working begin to fire off a series of emails, comedy video clips and Facebook pokes at each other in a downward spiral of collaborative non-productivity from which nothing useful emerges.
This does make me smile – I have often seen time-stamped Facebook entries that tell tales on people’s productivity during work hours.
But it does occur to me that this is something that is increasingly prevalent. Another report in the Guardian yesterday pointed out just how addicted we can be to the internet and how it can distract from the simper pleasures in life.
But back to the workplace. Mine’s a publishing company, but yours may be a classroom. There have been many posts on the usefulness of technology in ELT – advocates like Gavin Dudeney promote the benefits (see this post on That’SLife, for example) whilst respecting and acknowledging that teachers are central – that tech is only a tool. There have been equal numbers of those who are sceptical of technology in itself and perhaps see it as a potential distraction from ‘real’ teaching.
The argument goes on (see the recent post from Ken Wilson, and in particular the comments) – I’m not sure there will ever be a winner, or if ever there should be (I wonder how teachers and educators reacted to the advent of paper over chalk and slate, sometimes, when I read the arguments. I bet there were similar discussions in whatever passed for the blogosphere at the time).
But the mutually assured distraction definition and the Guardian article both made me wonder if there was a greater danger of us – publishers, educators, authors – turning concerns over technology into something more than they deserve to be. Are we the ones who won’t let it go? The ones who fire off the pokes and emails, swap blog comments, engage in Twitter arguments while the rest of the teaching world sees ‘technology’ (for want of a better term) as just something ‘to get on with’?
By the way, I am aware of the contradiction in writing a post that in some way contributes to the above. Can’t help myself.
Teachers will either use the tools or leave them – in much the same way as my teachers at school were variously good at making use of an OHP. Does this affect the quality of their teaching? I doubt it – good teachers will always be good teachers (and vice versa) regardless of the tools they use in the classroom. And I know that has been said before.
So perhaps it’s time we left these arguments alone and just acknowledged that (new) technology in the classroom is the current reality for some and soon will be for others – I read stuff almost daily as part of my job that tells me this is so. Otherwise we are in danger of entering into “…a downward spiral of collaborative non-productivity from which nothing useful emerges.”
And that would be m.a.d.