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Posted on October 12th, 2012, by

Information technologies have truly changed the life of the society, with internet, cell phones, social networks, great masses of information, video, music etc. available from everywhere. This ocean of information has its own rules and peculiarities, and whether we like it or not, the world has adopted a new dimension: informational dimension. It affects all people, to a certain extent, but surely, most of all the technological changes affect children and adolescents  and from this point of view, the digital technologies today form our future tomorrow. The most enormous effect of digital technologies has been witnessed on education; however, there are many opposite opinions about this topic. The aim of this essay is to compare two papers: The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein and Leisure Is Hard Work: Digital Practices and Future Competencies by Kirsten Drotner. These articles represent opposite views on the impact of technology on education and learning perspectives, but the aim of this essay is to find similarities in these papers and analyze them.

Technology: a blessing or a curse?

Bauerlein in his paper sets many examples of negative influence of information technologies on educational process, of the regress of learning functions among adolescents who frequently use modern means of communication. Kirsten Drotner, on the opposite, states a number of examples where technologies facilitate learning process, help young people to adapt to the environment and develop new learning qualities. Who of them is right and are there points of contacts and similarities between these two opposite views on technology?

The aim of this paper is to single out common statements and conclusions in these two papers. At first sight, the views are quite different, but at closer consideration one can see that many conclusions are the same, but the estimate of them is either positive or negative.

For example, both authors state that information technologies distract children from the traditional process of learning children and young people who engage in digital practices in their leisure time rarely define their activities in terms of learning (Drotner, 2008). Also, children devote more time to leisure: much of the preparation work needed for academic achievement takes place not on school grounds but in informal settings (Bauerlein, 2009). These phenomena are described from opposite points of view in the papers, but the facts remain similar.

Kirsten Drotner also agrees with Mark Bauerlein that for those who are less familiar with new technologies, the process of learning using modernized means may be frustrating. Both authors state that web-based environment develops non-linear thinking and analysis: Screen reading is not a supplement anymore it’s the primary activity, and the cultivation of nonlinear, nonhierarchical, nonsequential thought patterns(Bauerlein, 2009), users will often perform several tasks at a time, they do not focus on one particular issue, and they mix media and modes of expression (Drotner, 2008). The enormous development of socializing and social networks is also noted in both papers, and both positive (Drotner, 2008) and negative (Bauerlein, 2009) consequences are described by the authors.

Similar statement are found concerning gaming: the distraction of children and adolescents from educational purposes to gaming, chatting and socializing is described in both papers. However, Drotner focuses on positive implications of such tendency and describes the qualities (based on gaming and socializing) which will be useful for the children in their future life, while Bauerlein shows the negative effects of such spending time for adolescents, the absence of contact with elder people and the absence of motivation for self-development.

Also, both authors note that the concept of literacy and basic skills necessary for being a normal member of the society are changing: The sense of inevitability technology’s here to stay, so we might as well go with it prompts researchers to accept the practices technology fosters, to tolerate and respect the habits young people develop as serious and catholic literacy (Bauerlein, 2009), one of the key global challenges of the twenty-first century is to develop the human capacities that are needed to deal with increasing complexities of an economic, political, and cultural nature (Drotner, 2008).

Conclusion

Every phenomena has its ups and downs, and the effect of any new discovery or technology is measured by the rationality of its application.

Information technologies are not an exception from this trend. The comparison of two papers on the influence of digital technologies on learning perspectives has shown that there is a number of factors mentioned in both works which are negatively estimated in one paper and have positive perspectives in the other one. Indeed, there are examples of both efficient and inefficient application of information technologies, and almost all the similar statements received opposite estimates. In general, it is necessary to take into account both advantages and disadvantages of digital age, and correct the educational system and approaches to education respectfully.

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