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Social Implications of Social Computing #4

Technology is very seductive and it is easy to fall in love with it rather than viewing it dispassionately as a tool with utility for various tasks.
It is really important for us to avoid getting caught up emotionally in the technology.  This is important because the technology is changing every nanosecond.  What was cool two years ago seems unbearably slow and lame today.  We need to be strong and not fall in love with the technology so that we are ready to change when new technologies arise.  But we also need to be open to new ways we can use technology in different contexts.
Instead we need to retain our focus on what is important, not technology but people.  
This new technological landscape and its cultural and practical implications are going to create challenged for educators and their institutions.
The institutions of learning in this country are pretty conservative and slow to adopt new fangled technology – usually quite sensibly on the basis of cost.  
But now with social computing (sometimes called web 2.0) and open source the main arguments against new technology adoption are being destroyed.  The argument that institutions of learning should develop closed and proprietary information systems is no longer valid.  Why are we locking away access to educational information behind firewalls and security?  When institutions like MIT open up much of the courseware for free this should really make us think about our own institutions. 
Individual educators are embracing change. But sometimes these visionary folks seem more like revolutionary cells rather than part of the institutional mainstream.  
But the learners will eventually force our hands by disengaging if we do not respond to the shifts in their cultural practices.

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