A Degree in the Digital

As someone with a bachelor’s degree in digital communication, the fact that I am absolutely horrendous with technology may amuse some and surprise others. I originally joined the program thinking that I would rediscover my passion for music journalism, maybe start up my music blog from high school again and make it more expansive than ever before. Instead, I developed a cynicism for technology, as what is created with the ability to do such good is seldom used in that manner.
It is because of this bias that I find myself avoiding using technology in the classroom when possible. That is not to say that technology has no benefit in my class, it in fact has a great deal of impact by allowing me to use various programs and websites to provide content with my students, whether it be a Google classroom with a discussion feature, Quill and NoRedInk for grammar, or CommonLit for literacy standards, technology does weave it’s way into much of what I do.
These tools, however, are not the end all be all of my classroom. They are most often used to bridge a gap in knowledge or introduce an idea for discussion later down the road. One of the greatest elements of technology in education is for the world to shrink in such a way that students can learn from others, thousands of miles away from one another, and gain valuable insight into the lives of others. We are all rather small pieces of a bigger network, and students have the opportunity to weave their own paths on the web in this manner.
Despite this, technology comes with its own limitations and follies. Tools that are too structured can remove the agency and human element of a student. Critical Digital Pedagogy still has an extensive focus on the human element. It is here, in a network of human connection, that technology in the classroom serves its greatest purpose.
The ways I go about thinking about the programs I have students engage with in the classroom boils down to a single question: What exposure to new perspectives and ideas are my students gaining through the use of this technology? While programs that do not have students and the human elements as the central focus should fall to the wayside while examining materials through Critical Digital Literacy, this is no guarantee.
I still do not know the long term benefits of any program I use in my classroom today. Nothing is certain regarding benefits or detriments to any of the materials as I use them. To me, one of the only ways I will be able to decide the effectiveness of these technologies in my class is through the lens of hindsight. However, I will say if my student’s walk away from our time together thinking even a smidge more critical about themselves and their relationships with external stimuli (technology, systems and networks, other individuals) than my use of technology did serve its intended purpose to me.


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