However, what I am learning about it comes not so much from my own use, but from those around me.
I am constantly surprised by the knowledge children have about how to get around on their electronic devices. As adept as they are in their technology usage, they are equally as far removed from understanding the consequences of what can happen at the speed of “send.”
Our society now demands that technology usage is a skill that is expected both in school and in the career marketplace. Although most schools, K-12, have computer labs in their buildings, there is a movement toward providing tablets to all students as a standard educational tool.
Even now, in some schools, kindergartners have their own tablet devices to use. They can practice academic skills, research topics and take pictures with them.
Classrooms have changed from blackboards to whiteboards, and teachers are equipped with “carts” that house VHS and DVD players, a computer system, a camera, a document projector, and sound system. By using this technology in the classroom, students are able to see material and hear instructions more clearly. The videotaping capacity of these carts enables the teacher to record a lecture or demonstration for repeated viewing.
Recently, “flipping” has become one of the newest trends in education. It involves the teacher taping a lecture that the students first view as homework, and then the next day the teacher reviews the material with the students. This way, the students have a chance to get familiar with the topic prior to the teacher’s presentation and are able to direct their questions to the teacher.
Outside of the school environment, technology surrounds us. Stores, gas stations, libraries, restaurants and homes depend on the use of technology. Sales, inventory, cash flow, payroll, peak-use analysis, heating and cooling systems, and security all have become technology dependent. Potential employees need to be comfortable using technology.
A concern of mine from an educator’s view point is that the technology user has basic knowledge of how to operate without the technology. When the power goes off or the computer locks up, have they “backed” themselves up with enough longhand approaches and reasoning ability to carry on?
Technology use in the learning environment is a given. However, it can also be risky business in and out of the classroom. The hacking of Target’s computer systems right before Christmas certainly was a heads-up for everyone.
As new uses of technology arrive, so do new abuses. Since the Target incident, it is worrisome to do things electronically. I hesitate to pay online or order merchandise online. I just received my bill for renewal of my marriage and family therapist license, and I can only do it online! No choice — really?
I know that for many people shopping online and paying bills online saves them time, but I would still like to have the choice.
Besides the risky business of credit card hacking and identity theft for adults, for the children using technology their skills far exceed their understanding of the risks. One of the biggest misunderstandings they continue to have is that when they hit “delete” everything they have done disappears. Not only doesn’t it disappear, but it might have circled the globe before the delete button was hit. Entries on Facebook or in chat rooms and e-mails can be linked and forwarded on to others who forward it on to others who forward it on to others. On and on it goes with a life of its own!
Most of the portable devices have cameras on them. Pictures taken can be linked to e-mails or Facebook postings. Through the use of a program, pictures can be altered and then put out there in the electronic world.
Again, the permanency of these interactions on the Internet is not clearly understood by some users.
Within seconds of a posting, an entry can go viral and permanently damage both the sender’s and receiver’s lives. This can be seen when a potential employer, college admissions office or inquiring parents use the “search” ability of the Internet to get the scoop on an individual of interest to them. They may find inappropriate dialogue, pictures and way too much information about the individual in question. The information found may end a job offer, college admission or making a new friend.
There is an old saying from war times: “Loose lips sink ships.” I do believe that there will be a lot of sunken ships out there before technology users — especially children — balance their ability to use technology with their ability to protect themselves from harm.
Welcome to 2014! Proceed with caution: technology in use.
— By Janice Beuschel, Tribune community columnist