English Teachers Unite: Making Our Voices Heard in the Technology Debate

After digesting the interview from Rheingold and reading Selber’s “Reimagining Computer Literacy”, it has become abudantly clear that English teachers need to take a leading role in the manufacturing of expectations and standards of literacy in the 21st Century.   Postman’s words seem to echo in the back of my memory that “We need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we may use technology rather than be used by it,”     Perhaps, more acurately, we must avoid being  used by the corporations and the capitalist that are promoting their latest gadget and gizmo.   If we as educators simply sit back without voicing what we believe should happen with writing and literacy, then the culture and others will make those decisions for us.  Selber explains how “… faculty in English departments are rarely (if ever) consulted in institutional matters of computer literacy” (22).   The result is literacy practices being defined and redefined “…in ways that are less that desirable.”  

Another issue that entreats educators to become more involved is the fact that anyone can distribute and broadcast their opinions and agenda through technology.   Rheingold discusses how the internet has brought a “democratisation of the ability to create and distribute your opinions…”    The printing press changed the course of humanity.  However, only certain individuals truly had the ability to harness this power.  Today, though, anyone who has access to technology can promote his or her ideas.  The potential consequences are immense.  We have already witnessed a certain individual  creating a false identity which led to the suicide of a young girl.  Educators must responsibly inform students of their impact with technology.   Words have power.  What one says can have an impact. Write responsibly.  This can be empowering for certain students. Writing is not just for a grade.  It can be a tool for change.  Perhaps students could witness firsthand how effective writing can have a significant impact when coupled with technology.

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