U02 Civil Discourse_diianni

The first article states that researchers have shown certain negative effects on the learning and social development of toddlers that use mobile devices. Basically, they say that more research is needed to determine anything but the article implies that early use of devices can impede the development of empathy and problem solving. The question is asked, if children will lose their ability to develop internal mechanisms of self-regulation. The writer seems to say that researchers are implying negative impacts on children and parenting rather than stating those conclusions as researched evidence. The tone of the article seems to express deep concern about the prevalence of device wielding toddlers.

The second article is apparently a response to the first article or articles like it. The author says that the first article originally stated that toddlers would get brain damage from device use. This assertion is not in the edition that we read but is the main focus of the second article, with the writer lamenting the misinformation of the idea that researchers have shown device use to damage the brain of toddlers. He continues to criticize science journalists and PR offices for sensationalizing, decontextualizing and simply misrepresenting actual research. This article doesn’t actually conflict with the ideas stated in the first article about devices impeding social emotional development.

The talk with Dean Shareski, Jonathan Becker University of Virginia and Justin Reich from Harvard University highlights the interest and concerns about research as a tool to guide, drive or inform instructional decision-making.

The conversation highlights that the ideas of how teachers should use research and even what constitutes evidence worthy of driving decisions are clearly not universally agreed upon. Becker mentions a long-time teacher who uses observation over decades as an example of legitimate evidence to form decisions whereas Reich seems to prefer more formalized analysis.

In the devices and toddler polemic it’s clear that not only what the researchers are stating but also what would constitute research in that area finds no agreement.

What is a teacher to do? We want to use research-based strategies to legitimize our decisions but research itself is a fluid concept and can be manipulated to fit an agenda or preconception.old lady no cell phone.jpgI work in a school that uses ABA as a research-based approach to behavior management and modification. Just today we did a PD session where the instructor emphasized the need to get agreement on what the behavior to be modified actually is. We have seen ABA work very well in our school. We have also seen students spend years on programs, gain skills but never achieve true integration. We have had our successes but not universally. To me the take away is that education is a process, there is no silver bullet. Organizations and individuals, some profit seeking, may have agendas, strongly held beliefs, egos to satisfy and a number of other considerations that don’t necessarily foster crystal clear truths about how to best educate children. Therefore, as our professor’s goal for this section states we need to be critical consumers of research and use our hard earned “phronesis” when making decisions about our students is right on the mark.

On the issue of how devices are impacting our children and society, do we really need to do a baseline, create a control and experimental group, take data over time and assess with inter-observer agreement to form an opinion? Please see the pics above and belowtdy_take_baseball_160308.today-inline-vid-featured-desktop.jpg for my answer.


10 thoughts on “U02 Civil Discourse_diianni

  1. Hi Dave! I missed your initial intro and just listened to your video. I’m also in NJ, northern, and so want to teach Video, Broadcast Journalism, Media Literacy -or at best a combination of it all! Would love to hear your thoughts. Sadly missed Educon this year, which I believe you referred to; it definitely is a favorite conference!

    With regards to this post… My goal as a school librarian is that students have the skills and dispositions necessarily to make intelligent decisions throughout their lives. As we all know too well, there are too many people who are making world altering decisions based on inaccurate, one sided and media infused information. I do try to explain the desire for using original research as evidence for an argument, however one source does not stand on it’s own and is only part of the picture. In addition, inaccuracies in research is rampant, even in scientific journals, combined with the “no time to wait” for research understanding you imply. Common sense, knowledge of specific audience, needs and stakeholders and a bit of intelligent risk taking all contribute to decision making in educational practices. With specific regard to your on spot images, which took me a while to figure out, (baseball is not my thing!), there’s a a time and place for everything, technology does not replace being in the moment and no matter what, balance is always key!


    1. Hi Deb,
      Let me know if I can give you any help with any of those media production courses. I agree that balance is key which is also echoed in Jason’s reply to me. He created a really nice visual image of waiting on the ice for auroras. Thanks for your reply!


  2. I love the pictures that you included. To play devil’s advocate… the people with their devices are capturing memories they can view time and time again. Pro sports encourage social media at events. What if the kid was looking up stats to stay interested in a game that about 18 minutes long if you just show pitches and the resultant play. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323740804578597932341903720
    Dad brought me to this borefest so he better take care of me.

    That being said I have learned to put down my device and just soak up the moment. My wife and I talked about this as we backpacked Yosemite National Park and my camera was constantly capturing photons. To me finding the balance point is the key. Using my device while on a frozen lake to check to see if the conditions are still right for auroras…good. Using a device on a frozen lake and being so engrossed you miss the aurora…Bad. For the record I did not miss 🙂


    1. Hi Jason,
      Fair point about the stats. I think we all feel that technology holds the promise of living life more not less. I don’t necessarily disagree and I am certainly not device free, just the opposite. I think the story of technology in the last couple of centuries has been ultimately; you gain something you lose something. Love the idea of seeing the auroras with or without a device. Sounds really beautiful!


  3. Interesting use of imagery to foster discussion. Often times, I feel like the conversation involves shaming and polarizing the issues so that people are forced to say either technology is good or bad. Neither of those are right and instead we miss opportunities to discuss nuance and circumstances. I find people examining their own use of technology a better barometer to start discussions rather than pointing fingers at “society” as if we can make blanket statements.
    I’d love to hear yours.


    1. Hi Dean,
      Your comment is thought provoking. I agree that nuance can be a precious commodity. Thinking about the conflict in terms of research rather than whether technically is “good” or “bad” which as you point out is not a valid query stated as such, I think it’s clear that research should be taken in context and used to inform not dictate decisions.


    2. Thinking about my own technology use is an interesting exersize. I don’t feel that I could do my job without it as I have become more dependent on Drive and Google apps as well as researching both teaching issues and subject specific issues. I have adopted so many cloud based tools like Adobe CC, Moovly and Edmodo that teaching without a connection seems almost impossible! I am very excited about the nexus of tech/ed and for years I have felt the sense of potential. I got into teaching only about 8 years ago so my professional development has always included teaching with tech. Dean’s comment on nuance is a hard one though very valid and worth looking at. Tech in my classroom has clearly opened doors that would not exist without it. I feel that my personal use of tech has opened my thinking and given me access to opportunities like connecting virtually with other schools, learning more about software and new techniques, managing my work and my students work. It has also given me insights into alternate teaching strategies. It’s hard to know if these opportunities have stifled other opportunities in my students learning experience or my teaching.


  4. Here is the link to my photos from here in Finland… including the the ones waiting on the ice.


    Tech is truly in how you use it. On the same trip we took to the Finnish Lapland at 70 deg N latitude a few others photographed the same Auroras. In addition to traditional exposure time, aperture, iso we now deal with post processing in Adobe CC. I try to create an image as close to what the eye saw as I can. With long exposures that is impossible and I need to make an educated guess as to what it would look like at a brighter intensity. Several of us shared our images and the exact same image (we within 1 meter of each other) looked different. He oversaturated his aurora images to the point they looked fluorescent. This is a growing trend in aurora photography to give an extra “wow” to something the vast majority of humans have never seen. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…


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