Technology has always rooted itself in culture, and likewise, culture has grounded itself in the technology that moves it forward. While this is apparent in social media and other communicative technologies that have changed the world as we know it, it’s also incredibly present in education. There is, however, a stark difference between the ways in which technology plays a role in the broader context of the world and the small environment that is the classroom.
In the context of the world at-large, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many other social media outlets that have, in fact, helped us to feel more connected as a society, and have done so in a remarkable way. They are conduits for empathy, personalized ways to network and communicate with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, giving us insights into our peers’ worlds that we would not have without access to this technology.
Similarly, technology in education has tried to achieve similar things. Using big data, systematizing instruction through instructional videos, and increasing teacher efficiency through tech tools has, in a way, made the classroom a smaller place, as well. It’s more manageable, allows us to personalize more than we ever have before, and has given us insights into our students that we probably would not have, if not for this new technology.
But we’ve come up short. Educational technology simply has not yet revolutionized education in the way social media has the world, and these differences can be traced back all the way to the cultural assumptions that underlie both social media and educational technology. These assumptions, rooted in radically different times and resulting from different needs, have in turn, resulted in major differences in the technological outputs, highlighting the differences between what we’ve been able achieve with social media versus educational technology.
But what are these differences? What is social media doing that ed tech currently is not?