“have you been on it?”
“then how can you tell me it’s too dangerous?”
Sound familiar – it’s a conversation I’ve heard (or something like it) on numerous occasions – and recently I’ve been thinking about how it applies to the world I work in – of the use of ICT in education.
Recently I was in conversation with a group of businessmen discussing the use of email in their workplace. One person commented on his boss who, despite having a computer on his desk for some years, still insisted on having his emails printed out for him by his secretary so he could annotate them with a reply for her to re-type and email back to the original sender.
The comment was greeted by an appropriate round of smirking and knowing looks – but underneath this out of office banter lies a very serious concern. How can anyone who works with technology in that way have a sufficiently well developed understanding of the affordances of such technology to be able to make informed decisions about investment in and use of the technology by others?
Unless one’s understandings of these technologies has been developed through lived experience I doubt it is possible to make a truly informed decision, or to contribute to the decision-making process in any useful way. Without the lived experience one’s understanding of the impact of technology is most likely to be additive, not ecological.
My musings on this have been heightened in the past few days following discussions with a school leader who, in the midst of making decisions about investment in a Learning Management System, took me aside to explain what an LMS actually does, and in hearing of a senior government official who is contributing in significant ways to the discussions about the roll-out of high broadband around NZ, but who doesn’t currently see the need to have basic ADSL connection at home.
I may be wrong – perhaps there is a form of intellectual engagement that enables some people to understand the complexities of disruptive technologies without actually experiencing them. If so, it’s certainly beyond my comprehension.