Today’s big idea comes from an article titled “How computers change the way we think” (Turkle, 2004). Now, before I talk about it, I should talk a little bit about myself and my relationship to technology. My background is in Computer Science (that is where I started my academic career with a B.Sc. in Computer Science). So, when I see and learn a new technology, I grasp how that technology works. I am impressed with cool uses of computation, and I’m amazed when I see what we can do with each new version of a technology. Because I understand the foundations of technology, I know what its limitations are, and I often know how to approach learning it and using it. In many ways, it is intuitive to me.
I never really bought into the idea of “digital natives” or the “net generation” before – or at least the idea that they somehow were better with technology just because they grew up with it. Turkle has given me a new way of thinking of the net generation, which actually isn’t related to age, rather it is related to the way in which they think about technology. Turkle uses the idea of “taking things at interface value” and describes how the typical college student today seeks to understand how to use technology. They are perceived as understanding technology if they know how to use it, not how it works. The focus is very different. She goes further to say “when people say that something is transparent, they mean that they can see how to make it work, not that they know how it works”.
So, the question for me is, how does this change in paradigm affect the way I teach Technology to Education professionals? Do I no longer need to focus on “how it works” and instead focus more on “how to make it work”?
Turkle, S. (2004). How computers change the way we think. Chronicle of Higher Education, 50(21), B26. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.reocities.com/hillcountry45/howcomputerschange.pdf