Communicating with technology requires mindful integration

In The Role Of Technology In The Evolution Of Communication Rogers (2019) indicates the communication evolution started with the electric telegraph in 1831.  Although there were some forms of long-distance communication it was the start of electrical engineering that made this telegraph accessible.  Innovation continued with major milestones like the telephone in 1849, which continued to be our primary source of long-distance communication until more recent times. It took the adoption of internet technology, which was made available to the general public in the 1990s, to communicate in a new way.  Email became a welcomed substitution for writing and mailing a letter. After the turn of the millennium broadband became readily available for home use.  This allowed faster connection than dial-up, even able to out work complex corporate networks. Computers had been getting smaller, internet service was the missing piece for seamless remote communication. Of course we want smaller computers and faster connections, which led to advancements in Smartphone technology.  Anyone that has fought with a Blackberry would not be surprised to see how easily the iPhone took over the market in 2007.  In essence we can communicate long distances from anywhere we desire.  This ability has forever changed how we do business, how we learn, and in general how we interact with others.

In my corporate Instructional Design job all communication requires technology since we have remote teams spread out all over the world, and work with international customers.  Meetings are conducted through online web conferencing.  Dropping by someone’s desk to chat is instead a conversation exchanged through a messenger. Technology offers us the chance to communicate with the entire world without the time and expense of travel. Companies can assemble the right talent without worry of location.  Along with the opportunities technology brings, there are also challenges.  First, the actual technology is not consistent across every domestic location and every country.  Internet service is limited in some areas, which results in an individual losing connection during a meeting or even missing the meeting because the service is down.  We become dependent on communication tools, but these systems can periodically go down.  The other challenge is how we present ourselves when communicating with technology, verses in person.  For example, an in-person ribbing would result in laughs but that loses the charm online.  Explanations in email need to be more succinct than we might speak.  Thoughts, feelings, and intentions are not always portrayed the way we intend when we communicate with technology.  This can lead to hurt feelings, a lack of empathy and communication breakdown. A general awareness and better attempts to understand others can help with this challenge.

In education the use of technology has varied greatly between schools, programs, and levels.  In How Does Technology Impact Student Learning? Himmelsbach (2019) discusses how some teachers found technology more of a hinderance than helpful.  She went on to note several advantages which included access to information that is not available within the confines of a school.  This brings an opportunity to create curriculum with more diverse learning activities, and even pull in subject experts from another part of the world.  Students can interact, learn, and grow beyond the confines of a brick and mortar classroom. Technology accessibility has been highlighted more with the onset of COVID19.  Previously students in lower income communities could get by without technology, but now the educational gaps are becoming more defined. It takes thoughtful integration to use technology for learning.  We can’t just add technology to education and expect everyone to work the same as before.  Just like in business we need to change and adapt, that means attitude, accessibility, and pedagogy.  Instead of widening the gap technology could be the tool that closes it. 

Since the use of technology in education is relatively new in some settings, old theories or theories with a basis from a different industry have been adapted. We have entered a time of educational innovation, which was long past due.  It is time to innovate the theories that provide a basis for methodologies, outcomes and elevation of results. This idea is highlighted in an article by Bower (2019). Mediated learning technology theories have typically been adapted from theories intended for other uses or loosely associated.  Bower (2019) combined these technology-mediated learning theories into an individual concept. This idea is meant to offer a more stable way to analyze computer mediated learning.  In this article one premise that resonated was “In technology-mediated learning settings, the role of teachers is to help optimise student learning outcomes and experiences through the purposeful deployment of learning technologies” (p1039) In this premise he discusses how design should be for optimal learning.  Considerations should include how feedback is given.  The design should address more than direct feedback but also the information highlighted in data analytics.  This will create a more holistic approach and address individualized learning needs of the students. Technology has evolved, business has evolved, it is time for education to evolve. 

Citations

Bower, M. (2019) Technology-mediated learning theory. British Journal of Educational Technology, 50(3), 1035-1048

Himmelsbach, V. (2019, March 15) How Does Technology Impact Student Learning? Top Hat. Retrieved from https://tophat.com/blog/how-does-technology-impact-student-learning/

Rogers, S. (2019, October 15) The role of technology in the evolution of communication. Forbes. Retrieved at https://www.forbes.com/sites/solrogers/2019/10/15/the-role-of-technology-in-the-evolution-of-communication/#5e92e994493b

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