The Questions They Won’t Ask

In talking to Shelley Blake-Plock today, I continued my habit of ripping quotes from people and saving them for later.  From Shelley, I got this gem today:

We are probably the last generation that will make the distinction between being online and not being online

This was stated in response to a question I asked that I felt obligated to ask given the company in the room and their relative knowledge levels of social media and its use in the classrooms.  My question was as follows:

Considering the amount of time you now require your students be online, and considering some of the writing that’s been done (a la Nick Carr’s Google=Stupid work), do you feel that you are asking your students to spend too much time “online?” and do you get any pushback from teachers or students?

His response fits well, but, still, are we old-fashioned for asking questions like that, or better yet, do those questions need to be asked?

Just wondering…

6 thoughts on “The Questions They Won’t Ask

  1. An interesting question. Personally, I don’t think that seamless integration and accessibility of “online” resources should devalue face-to-face interactions. As a biologist, I can say that we are highly evolved to communicate not just through speech but through facial expressions, body language and other cues that may never be fully realized in a text format, as their complexity is much higher than the text systems we have now (or than our spoken language, for that matter). Even Google makes a point of putting people working on a common project in “pods” together so they can turn and talk to each other. As an educator I feel a need to teach students the differences between different types of communication and help kids understand that each has its own role.

  2. Julie,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. Shelley’s response to the question delved much deeper into what you are speaking about; I neglected to include it all here. He spoke about the blurring of the online-offline debate through holography and personal projection, and in a way it augments the biological elements of communication you speak of.

    Personally, I feel that the only technology worth having and exploring is that which enhances who we are and makes us essentially “more human.”

  3. Do our students spend too much time in front of a computer is an old-fashioned question. Twenty years ago would anyone have asked if students were spending too much time reading books, magazines, comics, or notes from friends? Questions we could ask: Are students spending too much time playing non-educational video games? Are students physically active enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Are students making mature decisions about how they communicate online? Just to name a few. Social-networking sites are the new form of communication…awesome! We could also ask, are our students spending too much time in front of a computer in solitary…because face-to-face interactions and collaboration are important.

  4. I do believe these questions need to be asked. However, I also just finished watching a great lecture by Jane McGonigal regarding gaming that put a unique spin on this idea of being ‘online’. (check it out here: After watching that, I wonder whether we as teachers can implement some type of online gaming program where the students actually learn based on problem-based learning in a virtual world. Any thoughts?

    1. Robyn,

      I’ll be sure to check out Jane’s lecture. I do think we will see an influx of either games themselves, or elements from gaming culture find their way into instructional design (look at NYC’s School of One as a prime example). The only caveat I have when thinking of this is that we don’t make it too “schooly” for lack of a better word.

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