Banning the Future

“We are fortunate to be living through the greatest change in human communication in human history.” – Miller (2010).

This is a strong proposition, the kind of which that inspires hope for the future of our world and of particular concern to Miller the education of its people.

The rapid advances in communication brought to us courtesy of the World Wide Web have seemingly presented our educational institutions with the opportunity to progress to a new and enormously accessible level of knowledge previously restricted. Creativity is our oyster.

But are the institutions listening? Miller (2010) argues they are not. “Our expectations of education remain frozen in time.”

This is in no way an outlandish statement. Let’s look at a simple example of teachers not embracing the benefits of technology. Here we have the not so uncommon opinion of a university professor and his imposed banning of laptops in the classroom.

Sure, he makes the obvious points regarding distraction and… well distraction, but his students are the ones that are paying for their education. If they choose to use a technology that can assist in their learning without affecting the learning of other students, then is it fair to impose such a blanket ban?

Perhaps professor Thagard has not been made aware of the advantages offered by such a device to the classroom as demonstrated by the following video.

Or perhaps he just hates technology. Like this guy

Another argument that arises is whether the universities are more concerned with their own “business” than the benefits to their students

I mention this on the basis of further restrictions to learning despite successful enrolment in a course. A student can access e-books and academic writings through their university, however these academic sources are restricted to their course and chosen by the teacher. Further reading will require additional fees and it is therefore left for only the keenest of students to find alternate ways to access their desired information.

Rather than granting full access to the world of knowledge that awaits their students, it seems that universities have locked the gates and forced the students to climb the walls.

References

Miller, R (2010) ‘The Coming Apocalypse’, Pedagogy Winter 2010 10 (1): 143-151

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Mitch checked in at the SCG but who really wants to know?

It is 2pm, Friday afternoon and the sun is blazing down on a packed crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Australia is about to take on India as an intense atmosphere envelops the stadium. A 20-something-year-old blonde-haired cricket fan sitting amongst his friends reaches for his iPhone and brings up the facebook application. It is time to let everyone know where he is. It is time to check in.

But who is paying attention? Who really benefits from this information?

Bilandzic and Foth identify locative media as a major contributor to the increasingly complex nature of personal relationships. The transition has become seamless between “being physically present at a particular place and being digitally connected at all times” (2011 p66)

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It is this constant connection between a networked society that makes the simple and very popular check-in function an interesting catalyst for potential consequences.

As the now checked-in cricket fan sits back in the stands and admires the quality of competition in front of him, the network screams out his whereabouts.

Now it is time for his network of ‘friends’ to respond.

His grouchy boss from the supermarket, trying to cover a shift that was left by his “sick” employee, discovers that a man too sick to work is never too sick to attend the cricket! It could happen. Just ask this guy.

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His brother’s best friend’s auntie’s next door neighbour, who he met on one occasion five years ago and has since acquired a handy criminal record, notices that his distant ‘friend’ is not at home and organises a visit. Because as he knows well, the best time to break and enter is when the occupant is absent. This also happens.

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Sure, these examples skew to a negative portrayal of locative media, but it can’t all be bad news. There has to be something really beneficial to outweigh the possibility of getting fired or robbed.

Well, in the outer suburb of Sydney, a hung-over exchange student from Canada wakes up in his hostel. He is in a foreign environment and just wants to be with his new friends. His international phone is no longer working, leaving the computer as his only option. He logs on in a desperate attempt to leave some kind of message and then BAM! He sees what he wants. “Mitch checked in at the SCG.” He now knows where he has to go.

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References

Bilandzic M & Foth M 2011. ‘A review of locative media, mobile and embodied spatial interaction.’ Published by Elsevier

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