New Technologies: No Place to Hide?
by Prof. Edna Aphek
reasons for lack of participation in the forum, besides Exposure.
H. the head reading counselor claims that a few of the participants
complain, that they don't know how to access the forum and
how to use it.
They need more practice.
I must say that I am having some difficulty with this notion
of learning and learning again how to access the forum, write
a message and send one. Three reasons lie at the basis of
my wonder at the request (though all the participants in the
forum support it) : for the last year most of the participants
took part in a course in which accessing the internet was
one of the foci.
At least one of the complainers complained that learning how
to use the internet is a sheer waste of time, as she does
it, "all the time", at home.
Yet, she used this "lack of practice argument" for
not accessing the forum.
Furthermore, I believe (and maybe wrongly) that once one knows
how to access the internet, the instructions for writing a
message in a forum are very clear. In fact all one has to
do is just read and follow them.
Quite a few teachers believe that using anything new is a
serious, grave task, which requires much effort and investment
and therefore anything, no matter how easy it might be, should
be practiced thoroughly.
On being exposed
I think one of the most important changes of our time has
been our attitude to fear. Every civilization defends itself
by keeping fears out and saying 'we protect you from fear'.
But it also produces new fears and throughout history people
have changed the kind of fears which have worried them
traditional, familiar situation in a classroom is that only
the students and their products are exposed. The students
are the ones to show their products to the other learners
as well as to their teachers. Their work is often put on display
for everybody to see and to comment on.
Students are required to write a lot and their written work
is often criticized by their teachers, but their teachers
are rarely required to write essays, summaries, prepare projects
etc. to be later on criticized and reviewed either by their
peers or superiors.
is other people.
I posted the messages asking for helping me understand what
the reasons for the lack of participation in the forum, might
be, it never occurred to me that being exposed and open to
criticism, ridicule, might be lying at the root of the matter.
What other people think of us, say about us, can do to us,
in light of what they think about us, is one of the major
causes of our fears.
In his book, An Intimate History of Humanity, Theodre
Zeldin traces the fear of the other, what the other might
think of you, to the conquering , "fearless," Vikings.
This fear of being worried about what other people might think
or say, has according to Zeldin, become a plague, in our society.
People are terrified of being constantly judged and criticized
by others. Being ridiculed is even a greater fear:
What should I write?
How should I write?
Who am I in comparison with the professionals?
I keep censoring what I am writing.
All of the above are voiced by the active participants in
maintains that the [bad] reputation one acquires is the new
He is echoing Sartre who maintained that hell is other people.
An old Hebrew saying advocates the same idea : Tov Shem Tov
me-Shemen Tov -meaning that it's better to have good reputation
than to be wealthy [literal meaning its better to have a good
reputation that to own good oil].
Being so worried about not living up to others norms, holds
people back. They don't dare do, because if they do they'll
be judged and who knows how it could mar their good name.
may well be that this threatening fear is hindering teachers
[and others] from participating in an open on-line forum.
A New mode of learning
originality of our time is that we are becoming more curious
another article , Clashing Cultures: Why Some teachers have
Difficulty Using the New Technologies , I pointed out to possible
factors serving as obstacles for teachers, mainly senior ones,
(but in no way the only ones) on their way to use the new
technologies. In that paper I listed a few differences between
the Book-Pen Culture (BP ) and the TD culture ( Technological-
Digital). One of the differences I mentioned is:
. the difference between a "real-here " tangible
culture and a virtual one. The believers of the "Concrete-
Here" culture are confronted by the culture of "somewhere
out there", in Cyberspace. In this "non-tangible"
culture, one sits on a chair in a small limited physical environment,
and the spirit roams in the unlimited space of the cyber:
visiting museums, meeting people, going on expeditions and
In addition to the above as H. pointed out, learning on- line
is a new mode and it takes time to adopt this novelty , of
which teachers might be apprehensive.
There are, to my mind, two ways to fight fear:
The one is not to adopt anything new and to fortify
and surround ones self by and with the old ,familiar "blocks"
of teaching and learning.
The other is the one Zeldin points out to in his book,
to be constantly open ,ever- curious and searching. Being
intrigued by and curious about the new and the changing is
the celebration of optimism and intellectual pursuit over
I would not like to concede that the teachers I have been
working with have surrendered themselves to the first option.
Time will tell.
Jerusalem, Nov. 2002
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