I had a wonderful Skype conversation with Miguel Guhlin this evening for an hour and a half. We were discussing presentation ideas for an April 3rd “Improving Student Learning through Technology-Best Practices” administrator in-service in Fort Worth where we are both speaking. Much of our conversation tonight focused on frustration with systemic-level school reform efforts, as well as lines of thought I would characterize as Luddite criticisms of technology, educational technology specifically, and modernism more generally. Thought provoking stuff! I suggested we do a future conference call skypecast on these topics, and Miguel suggested inviting Darren Kuropatwa. If anyone else has interest in participating in a VOIP conference call in the next week or so on topics touching on these issues please comment here and let me know. Some of the questions we may toss around include:

Is enthusiasm in the blogsphere for web 2.0 overblown, since the realities of the modern, accountability-driven classroom overpower individual drives for creative innovation?

Is there hope for systemic school reform in the United States?

Should schools repurpose their existing educational technology budgets, which largely serve now to support a traditional transmission-based model (pedagogy) of instruction? (And do something radical instead, like pay their teachers more?!)

Will corporate interests (Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc) overpower the energy of web 2.0 technologies in their drive to monetize the Internet?

How much should our enthusiasm for web 2.0, technology specifically and modernism in general be tempered by the “costs” we hear and know about regarding globalism?

I acknowledge that many of the voices in the blogosphere can at times sound like an “echo chamber” for web 2.0 advocacy. It is always good to consider alternate points of view. For this discussion, we may even invite people to specifically argue one side or the other of these questions. These could be considered the “Luddite Critic” and the “Techno-evangelist” viewpoints.

If you are interested in more ideas along these lines, I’ll refer you to my presentation from TCEA last February titled, “Luddite Literacy: Digital Tools or Toys for the 21st Century Classroom?” In the preso I invite educators to join the “Luddite Literati!” Consider yourself invited as well! 🙂

If you have other podcasts, blog posts, or other online resources relating to Luddism or the Neo-Luddite movement, I would be interested in comments and links about those here as well. WikiPedia’s entry for Neo-Luddite has a reference to the 1995 Wired article “Interview with the Luddite” that I had not read before. Interesting that the WikiPedia entry has the header “The neutrality of this article is disputed.” I hadn’t seen that warning / disclaimer on an entry before.

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3 Responses to Luddite criticisms of technology and modernism

  1. Hi Wes,

    Thanks for the invitation. Count me in for the conference call. Evenings after 9:00 pm (central time) are good for me. Email me and we can work out the logistics. 😉


  2. I would LOVE to take part in this debate. I get hot under the coller although it is my professional interest as well as a personal one that more people in Scotland (and the UK and beyond) get blogging, podcasting and using other social software tools. Maybe this discussion will help me find my arguments better – and more diplomatically! My Skype address is on my blog. I’ll be happy to stay up (very) late to take part.

  3. dave cormier says:

    Just caught wind of this on bud’s site. In a sad, wish i was there kinda way, i’d like to add that i don’t really think it’s about web 2.0 advocay, but web 2.0 observation. It exists, one way or the other. Our students CAN publish and interact online, the only question is whether or not we wish to change our schools so that they are relevant to this new society. I refer to AT&T ad campaign. cheers and awshucksing mightily… dave.

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