How Do You Define ‘Technophobia’?

Today, I stumbled upon a blog post, “Why Twitter Is a Teacher’s Best Friend,” by Liz Dwyer. While I find Dwyer’s stances on the professional development and networking power of Twitter to be valid and refreshing, I was concerned by the line “Not all teachers have totally embraced Twitter. Some are a little tech-phobic.”

To me, integrating technology to its fullest potential involves finding true solutions. In my own teaching, Twitter is used only in very specific circumstances. Yet, I am not tech-phobic. I hesitate to embrace the proclamation that eschewing a technology makes one tech-phobic, yet many tech blogs seem to follow this bent.

How do you feel? How do you define “technophobia”? How do you make your technology decisions when it comes to information sharing, teaching objectives and networking?

I found this article to be a refreshing perspective in many ways and find it opens the door to an interesting discussion on our perspectives in the tech world and how we view those who adopt technology at slower rates. What do you think?

3 Responses

  1. I appreciate the comments on this sort of article about as much as the article itself. One teacher commented that Twitter is less useful than her stapler. Another was effusive in her praise of Twitter.

    I find Jessica’s question much more engaging than just talking about Twitter, which has its value and its drawbacks.

    Many have noted that education, as an institution, tends to resist change. Some decry that tendency, even as troglodytic. It certainly frustrates me from time to time.

    However, if you think about, education provides a critical service for our children for a dozen or more years of their lives. Were it subject to every whim of education theory, the results would likely be unpleasant at best. I’ve seen a few education fads come and go.

    So it must be with the introduction of technology into our classrooms. There will always be a few brave early adopters and some who will resist change to the end. The bulk of our teachers are careful with the lives we’ve placed in their hands. They wait until they can understand the trade-offs they are making when they choose a technology.

    The early adopters also are usually quick to abandon something that doesn’t work. The die-hards just keep on teaching as they have. We all have to pray that they’re doing a great job without the use of anything new; many probably are.

    I’d like to think of technophobia as a form of a broader issue, change-phobia. As you can see from my remarks so far, I have a mixed reaction.

    Once in a while, a real change that really helps learning comes along. I suppose that you might consider textbooks to be one such change. The concept of using the Internet for distance education instead of the old mail-order format is another to my mind.

    In science education, the addition of students working in a laboratory was a huge change from the strictly lecture-based science learning that preceded it.

    How many really significant changes can you think of in the history of education or in your education field? I wouldn’t count the change from blackboard to whiteboard myself because all it did was to eliminate chalk dust. Think of real changes that made a real difference.

    Now, consider the technology changes being discussed today. How many truly have the capability to make a big change in learning? In my opinion, interactive whiteboards (IWBs) don’t make the cut. I don’t really see video recording of lectures as doing so either, but I’m willing to be convinced.

    Make your list and post it here!

  2. LOL, Jessica, you’re the last person I’d think of as a technophobe. When I discovered Twitter in 2006 or 7, I thought it was daft, like stations in big cities with nuts talking aloud. But I am a technophobe, or at least a partial one. I changed my mind when I saw the use human rights activists were making of Twitter in Pakistan, then in Iran.

    As to my criteria for choosing social apps, positively:
    – is the app reasonably accessible to people with disabilities / oldish computers?
    – does it work on all platforms
    – can users back up and/or syndicate their stuff?
    – is there a satisfying privacy policy?
    and negatively:
    – are there obnoxious ads?

  3. These are great perspectives! I sometimes worry we focus so much on the technologies that we don’t always assess the teaching and learning value. I find Twitter to be an extremely useful tool, but also hesitate to say I advocate it. Ah, the stuff I think about when I should be sleeping! :)

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