Being self-proclaimed “technologically illiterate” growing up in a generation of the most technologically-driven minds to date, I was sincerely hoping that Shaffer et. al’s article, titled “Video Games and the Future of Learning” would finally convince me of the essential benefits of technology, both in the classroom and the greater outside world. Unfortunately, with its specific focus on virtual worlds and video games, rather than technology as an overall tool, the article only served to further my averseness to encouraging young students to spend yet more time in front of a screen.
Indeed, contradictory statements made by the authors regarding virtuality versus reality validated my fear that a reliance on technology can have dangerous effects on an individual’s perception of the real world. For example, the article states “In virtual worlds, learners experience the concrete realities that words and symbols describe” (297). To me, ‘virtual worlds’ is a direct contradiction of ‘concrete realities.’ I do not believe that any kind of concrete reality can exist within a virtual world, and promoting such coexistence in a young generation endangers the future of our very real, natural world. As the opponent, Lowell W. Monke, argues in his rebuttal, titled “The Overdominance of Computers”, the time will come for the next generation to make very real governing decisions about such issues as climate change or the power of artificial intelligences. Do we really want them to base such decisions on virtual experiences, rather than lived ones? Monke says “Our children should be at the decision tables as adults, and we want them to be able to stand apart from high technology and soberly judge its benefits and detriments to the entire human race” (309). I worry that a dependence on technology is slowly erasing our own humanity.
That being said, I understand that it is naive to expect or hope that this increased technological presence is merely a phase in our world, or that it does not have incredibly significant benefits to our society. We should be incorporating technology into the classroom, and reaping the many educational rewards it provides. And we should be teaching our children to do the same. However, I agree with Monke’s argument that the most responsible way to do so requires a strong ethical base. We must first ensure that students have developed the morals, values and critical thinking skills to be able to approach technology with objectivity, and to grow from its benefits without falling victim to its dangers.
Evans, D.L. (2008). Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Teaching and Educational Practice. McGraw- Hill: New York, NY.