Well, Which one Is it?

The following is a collection of some of my thoughts in response to Jeff Moore’s tech tidbit #4 (post below this one).

We hear it all the time: Compete, Compete, Compete! 21st Century technology will help educators better prepare our students to compete in the global workplace. And, ever since the dynamic emergence of Web 2.0, we’ve also been hearing and saying (guilty as charged): Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate! The “new” Internet (aka Web 2.0) gives educators and students the opportunity for authentic collaboration with colleagues & peers around the world (i.e. the world is flat again).

Well, which is it? Competition or Collaboration? What are we supposed to be helping our students do? Is the current technological revolution guiding our civilization towards a more truly collaborative & peaceful, “borderless” existence, or is all the buddy, buddy talk just a way to get us to compete with MORE people? You know what I think? YES and YES- So we need to help our students learn to do both!

While it’s true that some technology shapes our evolution, it cannot happen without a HUMAN component. That is, Technology is just a Tool by which we are able to more easily achieve our goals & more heartily fulfill our desires. In other words, Technology helps drive our personal & social economy. If morality, as one could argue, is defined as the way people would like the world to work, then economics can be defined as how it actually does work. All economies are driven by incentive- people will do and use whatever they have to in order to get what they want. Incentives are the cornerstone of life- Understanding them is the key to solving just about any riddle one can imagine. Therefore, if collaborating will help people get what they want, then bring on the Web conferences! If competition will help achieve our goals, then it’s time to start comparing how many hits your blog gets with that of your colleagues’ (nobody really does that, do they? That’s purely an imaginary example- LOL).

So (deep breath), in terms of comparing Competition with Collaboration, I think BOTH are equally important skills to help imbue in our students. And the good news is, there are more than enough technology tools out there to accomplish both! The questions I’m really left grappling with are:

· Does mankind as a whole have a basic, underlying incentive?

· If so, is it simply to Survive?

· What then, given seemingly equal resources, makes different people fulfill that common incentive in such radically different ways (i.e. collaborate vs compete)?

· Does technology simply help us reach our underlying goals, or has it taken on an organic quality and begun to create incentives of its own?

· If so, Who, or better yet What, is running the machine? Do we use technology for different reasons depending on our needs, or are we letting technology itself dictate its purpose and our society’s future (is that even possible?)

· Is Necessity still the Mother of ALL Invention? If not, what is? (One could argue that, YES, of course it is! We’ve just re-defined “Necessity”…)

· Basically, what I really want to know is, Who & What is shaping our future (not a lot to ask, right)? mixed

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