Our class has been about tools. Tools that can communicate ideas, tools that can share information, tools that can make you smile, and tools that can help you remember. We have used the tools to meet needs, a grade for example, or as a way to express our opinions. These tools, like the television and the radio before, all send stuff from one place to another. Nothing more, nothing less.
A teacher in a room sends information via a mouth, a picture, a PowerPoint slide into the eyeballs and ears of the students. Tools that send stuff. Is is possible that all these tools are just passing phases, fads? Are these tools just distractions that make us passive or addicted to trivial interests? How shall we know when we have been informed to death, PowerPointed to death, or completely forgotten how to smell the roses? How will we know when the tools have started to wag our tail?
It is a fine line we walk between the use of the tool and the experience of the learner. Finding that place where a learner is listening attentively or working diligently and that instant decision to say something is the art of learning. Our paints and brushes are wikis and books and conversations and experiences. We have to hope what we paint is worth the time of our learners to stop, gaze at, and ponder the possibilities.
This all seems pretty obvious, but it may well be that we are, like Neil Postman said, "amusing ourselves to death." To make an informed judgement on the use of these things, we ourselves must know them well as not to create Orwell's or Huxley's future. We must learn the tools and along with them, wisdom. And that may take a while.