I think some of us — for fear of being perceived as fundamentalist technology apologists — feel the need to qualify statements about particular hardware or software with the phrase, “It’s not about the technology…”
I should know. I’m one of them.
It’s about the learning, certainly. And the technology that supports that learning. But if the goal is to create a collaborative, networked space for learning then technology and the Internet are necessary catalysts.
I’ve become increasingly reliant on certain online tools to get things done at and away from my desk. From my task list in Remember the Milk to our Web-enabled classroom walk-through instrument to the Google Docs I use to collaborate with colleagues, sometimes the best solution requires Web access.
I, for one, am spoiled. I’m so used to ubiquitous access to the web whenever and wherever I need it that I take for granted that it will always just be there. I’m stopping short of an of existential crisis here; I’m not “re-evaluating” my choice of tools. I like my tools and they work for me 99.9% of the time.
I’m just pointing out how amazing it is that in a relatively short time we’ve come to a place where, when the technology doesn’t work as intended, we’re paralyzed.
I know. I’m hilarious. But it’s a good question, right? We wouldn’t think of keeping campus open if the indoor plumbing suddenly stopped working, would we?
Argue all you want that we shouldn’t be so dependent on tools that live “in the cloud,” but having access to them has become de rigueur in my world.
This begs the question (for me, at least…) of how this little temporary outage affected our students. Was it business as usual, or were classes interrupted by the inability to access resources? This certainly isn’t a value judgment — there are fantastic traditional lessons and really horrendous online ones — more of a general wondering. If technology tools have become as embedded as we’d like them to be, I would hope this would be evidenced by at least some disruption in the day’s activities.
If class had been temporarily shut down due to lack of online resources, think of the amazing teachable moment. What better opportunity to make sure students have the interpersonal, social tools they need to collaborate with people who happen to be in the same room.