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Clashing Cultures: Why some teachers have difficulty using the new technologies
by Prof. Edna Aphek

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In a recent issue of From Now On Ken Vesey is asking the following question:

The Internet-only Research Approach: Does the Web Really Have All There Is to Say?

Ken analyzed many Internet learning resources and in light of his research he advocates "an approach to research …[which] will lead students to the best information wherever it is and whatever format it is in. "

His model is a "comprehensive research process for the students and often lead them to analog resources, as well as encourage them to use relevant online tools to tease out the best information on their subject."

http://fno.org/sept02/internetonly.html

Some scholars like Julie Landry are even raising the question whether the use of computers in general will bring about the educational impact we have been praying for. Laundry is pointing out at the enormous amounts of money invested in the IT and in teacher training. She is worried about the cost effectiveness of this investment and whether the harvest we are reaping is worth the investment.

Landry even fears that in certain cases the use of technology in the classroom might have a "detrimental effect" on the learners.

http://www.herring.com/insider/2002/08/classroom082102.html

As long as one culture maintains that it's better than the other, or tries to dominate and annihilate the other, there is no chance of reconciliation.

In the face of the above I am not recommending to sit back and wait until more teachers will join the "computer savvy force" or until some of the reluctant teachers will retire.
I believe that an on-going open public dialog, in which parents, educationist, philosopher, high tech people, and public figures, will participate, might serve as a bridge between the two clashing cultures. The blind followers of the new culture do it much harm. Their messianic prophecies that the new technologies will totally revolutionize the schools, make them obsolete and meaningless, might be a major cause of panic among several good conscientious teachers of the more traditional culture.

Technology is not only a blessing and a boon. According to Postman adopting a new technology is always "Faustian Deal", as technology always gives and takes., at the same time.
If we take the car for example then, the car while being a great means of transportation has given rise to several phenomena amongst them- the suburbs, air pollution, noise and many unnecessary deaths in car accidents.

Postman is calling on us to discus the ways in which the new technologies are using us and not only the how we should use them. Postman claims that we have turned technology in general and the new ones in particular, into our new Gods. By doing so we are destroying the main reason for the existence of schools i.e., socialization : caring for the other, learning to share, learning the rules of fair play, in short the components of civic education which help create a democratic public.
Postman as many others, is very worried about the digital divide and the enormous gap the new technologies are creating between the" haves" and the "haves not" and the growing inequality they are generating.

Maybe it's the false promises some of the adherents of the new technologies are making that deter some teachers from using them.

On the other hand, many rumors [not entirely unfounded] exaggerating and intensifying the dangers the NT might bring about, are told by the misinformed and perhaps the computer phobic amongst us: Net addiction, exhaustion from information overload, the IFS ( Information Fatigue Syndrome), the uncensored land of pedophilia , the land of hate sites, the endless dangers and pitfalls awaiting the young and the innocent. Yes, the Internet contains much of the above. But so does life itself. We don't send our children out without guiding ,and equipping our children with right tools ,and escorting them at least in the beginning. This is one of the many functions that school and parents take upon themselves. Life is dangerous and the NT are part of life and often its reflection.

What I am talking about is no way a public trial or a confrontation between the two cultures, but rather dialoging between people who hold different legitimate views of what learning and education and information are all about and what might be the best means to implement their views.

What I have in mind is a meeting of minds rather than attacking views and ideas. Starting a real, unbiased, candid dialogue about the use and misuse of the new technologies might show that the NT are neither demons nor Gods, and therefore will neither solve all our learning and social problems, nor destroy everything we have already accomplished, if used mindfully.

If such an on- going dialog is openly and courageously held between teachers and educationists of both cultures, it will help us air and reassess our views of what education and information are all about and thus I believe it might pave the way for more teachers (who until now have been reluctant to do so) to at least try the NT, wherever and whenever each of these teachers might deem it right and beneficial.

In an end note and in a paraphrase on Postman's words, let's not be "exclamation marks" but rather "on -going question marks".

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