It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. ~ Albert Einstein
At the time that this statement was made, Einstein was referring to the atomic bomb–obviously something that had a direct, and devastating, impact on the human population. However, his words remain cause for reflection, as well as a warning, about maintaining priorities in a technologically advanced world.
Few would argue that technology, as a whole, has not benefited society. It has dramatically impacted health care and the human lifespan, made world-wide travel possible, improved the safety and efficiency of work, and provided an avenue for greater understanding of other cultures. Technology has also lead to overflowing in-boxes, texting drivers, a generation stretched too thin by multi-tasking, phones ringing in the movie theatre and–to some extent–a culture oblivious to common courtesy.
As advocates of educational technology, we have an obligation to ensure that we maintain the interests and needs of humanity as a central tenet in our teaching and integration of technology. Modern methods of communication (i.e. instant messaging, Skype, e-mail) provide our students with a window into the world that exists well beyond school walls. More than at any other point in our history, we have opportunities to encourage empathy, respect and collaboration among students, worldwide. We can give students first hand experience at real world problem solving, teach them to consider others before acting and emphasize the benefits of positive personal interaction that technology can provide.
It is true that as we become more connected, we can run the risk of disconnecting from the world around us. However, we must meet this challenge head on and teach students how to use technology in a manner that builds positive connections, collaborative relationships and civility. We can not afford to waste these opportunities. In fact, when it comes to our students and our approach to technology integration, we would be wise to consider another quote by Einstein,
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.