SMASH! The fireball slammed into his side causing shards of molten metal to fly through the air. The Autobot swung his mammoth head around and surveyed the area looking for his attacker. It was only then that his retinal scanners were able to focus upon the grey metallic body of Megatron, the head of the Deceptacons! Then suddenly with a speed and grace that was seemingly unimaginable for a being his size, Megatron attacked again and this time far more damage was caused!
More than a fun paragraph that momentarily recaptured my youth, these few sentences are encoded with a warning about BYOD for all of humanity.
All Transformers possess great power, skill, knowledge and technological understanding. In fact, in many ways they are, oddly enough, a great metaphorical goal for our Earth bound education systems. For many generations teachers have worked in an established framework that provided learning and empowered students to benefit individually whist also giving back to society through the sharing of skills they have learnt. However, in the past few years there has been a pedagogical awakening with the proliferation of technology available in the classroom.
Information, facts, figures, maps, diagrams, video grabs and motivational platitudes can be downloaded and inserted into a student’s work in an instant. But, is that the point of having tech and is that even safe?
The Need to Embed Empathy and Humanity
Transformers are divided in two opposing camps; the Autobots (goodies) and the Deceptacons (baddies). Despite the fact that they are willing to battle to the death and risk entire worlds in the process, there is only one subtle difference between the two philosophies that they each hold dear. The Deceptacons crave knowledge and power. They want to be the dominant force wherever they exist. The parallels between the Deceptacons and some ‘Real-Life’ governments and organisations are, sadly, all too easily recognisable. Optimus Prime on the other hand is the leader of the Autobots. He also is a very powerful being who possesses great wisdom and knowledge; however; he is far more pensive and shares a deep level of empathy for all sentient beings. He has challenged us to know ourselves because, “Only then can you understand the power you have to bring change, no matter how small to the world around you.”
When integrated into a class with poor pedagogy, a BYOD program is fraught with danger. Our youth can be all too easily exposed to the most undesirable elements of humankind. They could also, simply by experimenting with the power of their given device, cause real cyber harm to others. They may learn facts and figures but what use is the knowledge of the figures surrounding the Ebola epidemic without the accompanying deep-seeded unrest and desire to grow up and change that situation. Aristole said it best when he claimed that, “To perceive is to suffer.” Without empathy centred ‘authentic’ learning we run the risk of creating a generation of humanoid Deceptacons.
Optimus Prime shows us the way forward. He knows that we can use technology to connect humanity. He is aware that we may be in a time of shifting paradigms and it can be difficult for all teachers to embrace technology and deepen our lessons to create a more authentic pedagogy but he also knows that, “Fate rarely calls us at a time of our own choosing.”