As an assignment for class, we had to do a book review. Simple enough, shouldn’t be too difficult; the book I chose, Distrusting Educational Technology by Neil Selwyn wasn’t even 200 pages long. I thought to myself, “I’ll be able to knock that out in two, three days tops if I just spend like, 20 to 30 minutes reading it each day.” I was very wrong. The first time I sat down with the book, reading just the introductory chapter took me over an hour. This wasn’t an opinionated narrative book, but a report of findings, an extended research text. While I normally don’t have too much difficulty reading passages like this, Distrusting Educational Technology is riddled with difficult language. It would not have taken me so long to get through if I wasn’t having to consistently turn to a dictionary. I had previously felt that my vocabulary was fairly substantial, but this book changed my mind on that matter; I only felt more and more simple minded as I struggled through it.
As I was working my way through the text, I was creating this poster that I was to present in class:
It’s more than a little blurry, I know, I apologize. This is what the post says:
About the Author
Neil Selwyn is a professor at Monash University in the UK. He has published six books, all having to do with technology in education. This is his latest.
While most discussion involving technology and education revolve around which technologies will be used how those technologies will be used, Selwyn explores whether or not technologies should be used in the classroom at all. Realizing that most technologies are created by a third party seeking profit, he questions the motives behind and pathways taken that lead to digital technologies ending up in classrooms. Selwyn believes that just because something is new does not mean that it is always what’s best.
3 Key Takeaways
1.Digital technologies being in our classrooms has significant effects on society, and not all of them are positive. Having a wealth of information at our fingertips means that we don’t have to remember specific facts, or even how to spell correctly anymore, effectively dumbing down the “Google generation”
2.Digital technologies should be fully analyzed, including being criticized, before being generally accepted by the masses. Hyper-critical analyses are often times skipped when reviewing educational technologies.
3.When students are faced with so much content on the internet, it becomes difficult to have original ideas or form independent opinions. Social media especially, reinforces this, allowing users to re-upload and re-post content in order to take credit for something they did not create themselves, or to restate the opinions of other without having to form their own.
Why you should read this book
Selwyn brings up the fact, many times, that most people just accept that digital technology will play a major role in the modern classroom. While this book may not completely change your opinion on whether or not digital technologies are beneficial to education, it does put a new perspective on your opinions of educational technology. As a lot of people think digital technologies to be beneficial, Selwyn makes you question why it is you think that way, as he holds such a polar opposite opinion on the matter.
That last section “why you should read this book” was a requirement. I don’t really think many people should be reading this book. It might be helpful for someone conducting research on the matter, but don’t sit down and try to read this book cover to cover, it’s not worth your time. What wasn’t required was the photo of the author. As I was reading through and saw his opinions on technology in the classroom, I had thought that he would be much older than he is, and I wanted to make this fact apparent to my classmates.
I also had to write a review of the book on Amazon, available here.
Then, when it came time to actually present on my book of choice, I was still having a difficult time. Public speaking does not scare me, I’m plenty used to it and I don’t usually get nervous. However, presenting on this book, in front of classmates that I’ve been studying with for over a year and have grown close to, my face was flushed and my voice was shaking. I had read the book closely, I’d made the poster, but I did not feel confident speaking about it.
As carefully as I’d read the book, I still didn’t feel like I had an adequate understanding of what Selwyn was trying to say. I understood that he didn’t want educators of any level to be using nearly as much technology as they are, or at all, but I just couldn’t understand why. He would make points with quotes from others with the same opinions, but I was having trouble understanding why these were bad things. For example, he calls millennials and younger the “Google generation,” these are the people who grew up in a world with access to so much information at our fingertips on the internet. He believes the Google generation is lazier and more stupid than previous generations because they can’t form their own opinions when they have access to so many others. How is having information bad for education?
I’m so happy that this assignment is completed. And now that I’ve written this blog post reflecting on my experience, if I ever had to read anything written by Neil Selwyn again, it would be too soon.