With this past weekend’s Trayvon Martin trial coming to an end everyone seems to have an opinion. Personally, I want to run from all social media based on the comments and statuses people I know are posting. First of all, I would be embarrassed if I were some of these people posting what they do. I mean, I believe in freedom of speech, but I am seriously starting to think technology is making people dumber. I want to ask some people who are making some of the postings they are if the actually read or watch the news. Also, if you are going to write a post, maybe actually type the word, or don’t include acronyms like “SMH.” It took me two weeks to learn what that meant. And here I am working on my Master’s degree! Sheesh! The pub argument is dead. Google killed it with a little help from your smartphone. Instead of long fought debates about who’s right and who’s wrong, an answer is nearly always within easy reach.
This doesn’t just include posting on Facebook and Twitter about current events, this is everything in society today impacted by technology. This case just got me thinking about what technology has done for society. Imagine one day without your smartphone: you would probably be unable to recall your to-do list, find where you need to go, and keep up with boredom. Now remember how much you over-spent on music, travel, movies, and food 10 years ago.
When I started my career about five years ago I was a trade show coordinator. I would go all over the country and help tear down and set up these elaborate exhibits. I would have to locate a Target, Home Depot and Lowes all the time in cities I never knew. Somehow I could always find what I needed and get back to where I needed to be without a GPS. Now, I need GPS in a town I have lived in for nearly five years. Yet, I got around major cities like Las Vegas years ago without any help, and I am pretty sure I could still find that Home Depot with no assistance. Now if you asked me to go somewhere I had to get to across town once a month ago with my GPS, not a chance in hell I could get there on my own!
Life has become more complex but we hardly ever notice it because technology has made complexity simpler than ever.
A recent study suggests that our modern lifestyles are making us “less intelligent” than our ancestors, at least at a genetic level. This research echoes concerns Einstein had when he supposedly said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
The immediate availability of information has created a particular conundrum in our modern society. When it takes a mere few seconds to find information about almost any topic, the value of knowledge and expertise is being devalued as information becomes cheaper and more accessible. This is despite the fact that information, knowledge and expertise are fundamentally different entities.
As for the way we define intelligence, it may be time to consider people’s willingness to solve complex problems as a key ingredient of IQ. Technology will continue to evolve and the gap between what can be solved with and without it will only increase.
Ultimately, the future of technology-enabled learning and education is in a synthesis of the science of learning and the art of teaching. Developing expertise in expertise will help us figure out how we can educate future generations of students to become wise and knowledgeable in a world where information is cheap and easy.