The Technology of Human Interaction

Technology is great.

My first real job out of college was at the Miami Herald in 1999, where I was the new Digital Pre-Press Paginator for the Classifieds. I watched an entire department of veteran cut-and-pasters, who had served the publisher for decades, get replaced by two 20-somethings and their computers.

Technology makes things easier, faster, and–over time–cheaper. Most of all, technology means we don’t have to interact with other humans. Over time, I have watched scanners replace toll-booth operators, self-service stations replace cashiers, and websites replace bookstores. Increasingly, we have online video recordings replacing teachers and teaching.

The rise in online education has me–and many others–questioning the values and practices of education on campus. I’d like to think that meeting in a physical space has value. But unless we begin to think of human interaction as a technology in itself that aids learning, I can see why publicly funded institutions would want to go the way of Khan.

In this session, I propose that we formulate a technology of human interaction. What does this technology consist of? What are its advantages and specs? How does it impact learning and growth? Along these lines, I’m also thinking of the technology of human resources. Why are our institutions investing so much money in technology rather than in humans? Why aren’t humans as effective as machines?

Technology is great. So let’s make human interaction an irresistible technology.

Categories: General |

3 Responses to The Technology of Human Interaction

  1. Laurie says:

    I’ve been thinking I need to learn more about sociotechnical studies (STS) in order to address just this concern. I’d love to discuss this further because it’s critically needed to ensure that the uses/reasons fo technology do not get lost where the technology begins to drive processes/goals. It’s especially a concern in technical fields where the focus on technologies can begin to seem to obscure the greater concerns.

  2. As I meant to mention in the session, I have several students that actually cannot stand the online version of courses, they actually want to have human contact. They state that they cannot motivate themselves to do work if they only have to log on … but if they are required to physically show up to classes they feel more pressure to actually have their work completed. I find it strange and interesting all at once. Because the due dates are not different – so why it seems they think of it that way is very curious to me – but I don’t object because I like to have them in the classroom!

  3. Donna Lanclos says:

    I love that, Jennifer–the motive to engage can come from such mysterious places sometimes. I have students tell me that they study better in libraries, or in cafes full of people studying, for similar reasons–they need to surround themselves by people modelling the behavior they are going for (ie, doing their academic work!) before they can really buckle down.

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