Although I am a self-proclaimed tech-savvy teacher and nerd, I don’t always defer to technology as the answer to problems, education or otherwise. I have witnessed the failed promises of too many quick fixes in professional development seminars, faculty meetings and inside the pages of educational magazines and blogs.
However, I am motivated to utilize technology in a classroom environment by witnessing how technology is helping drive revolution. I’m not talking about the classroom revolution that inspires t-shirts, keynote speakers and hashtags… I’m talking about actual revolution. We are witnessing a stunning era of revolution around the world. On the heels of the Arab Spring, a movement that was fueled in no small part by text messaging and social media, we have reports from journalists from the quickly deteriorating situation in the Ukraine. Where are these reports being shared? Instagram. Check out this amazing photo essay in Newsweek, featuring photos like this:
There is a potentially unlimited number of drivers of the current world unrest: authoritarian government, hunger, inequality, or pitfalls of globalization. Further, Jon Evens of TechCrunch offers this driver: social media. He argues, in part,
“To some extent, social media accelerates protest simply by getting the word out. It’s no longer possible for authoritarian governments to control what their citizens see and hear by clamping their iron fists down on newspapers and television/radio stations, unless they want to shut down the Internet and phone services entirely…and not even tyrants want to time-travel back to the 20th century that badly, unless they absolutely have to.”
What’s that have to do with education? Everything. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t believe that our educational system is an authoritarian government that needs a revolution (sorry… that might lose me some keynote addresses 🙂 ) but I do think that teachers and schools alike must acknowledge the power of these technologies and harness them to empower students. We need to help students tell their own stories involving the content and themes we know they must embrace to lead the next generation. If we don’t, they will tell the stories anyway. The technology empowers them to do so, with or without us.
How do we know the technology has this power? The powers-that-be are against it:
PM Erdogan of Turkey in June 2013: “Now we have a menace that is called Twitter… To me, social media is the worst menace to society.”
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) February 21, 2014
So, what are you doing to shepherd these revolutionary technologies?