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!

 

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More than a fun paragraph that momentarily recaptured my youth, these few sentences are encoded with a warning about BYOD for all of humanity.

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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.”

 

BYOD Danger

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.”

 

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Founder #aussieED | Primary Teacher - 1:1 Educator | Google Certified Teacher | Speaker | Committed to turning Ed Theory into real classroom practice

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3 Responses

  1. Jena Ball

    This post really spoke to me because it addresses something we all tend to forget when we get excited about new discoveries and technologies, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Being human, we tend to let our excitement and curiosity get the better of us when it comes to pursuing a new idea, scientific discovery or technology that has the potential to radically change our lives. It’s not that we shouldn’t be curious and excited, but we must also take the time to do the internal work required to be able to understand and integrate what those discoveries can mean – how they might alter how we perceive and interact with one another. That’s why I thought your statement that we need to “embed empathy and humanity” was so insightful. Technology is amazing, intriguing and promising, but it is just a tool to help us become better human beings. As long as we use it to create bridges of understanding, to facilitate effective communication, to make it easier to share and collaborate towards solving some of the huge challenges facing the world, I’m all for it. But let’s not forget that at the heart of every human being is a storyteller whose ancestors sat around campfires, starred with awe at the stars and learned from one another by sharing stories. Let’s ask each other how best to use our devices responsibly to grow our compassion, understanding and empathy. Thanks again for a great post Brett! Jena

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  2. Scott Hansen

    I agree Brett, the success (or otherwise) BYOD is inextricably bound to the pedagogy in which it is enabled…poor pedagogical practice will inevitably lead to the machines taking over (maybe that’s more like Terminator than Transformers) and leading what students do in the classroom, rather than being a tool to enable better learning. Teachers need to work hard to develop their TPACK so that they understand how a device might best be leveraged to maximise student learning.

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  3. @leonie_hastings

    How you find the time to reflect & blog as you do is beyond me. I love the link to Transformers. As I love them as do my SS. So true that fate rarely calls us at our own choosing. But dealing with that & making the most of the learning oportunities given to you, not worrying about the inconvenient timing , often shows that your flexibility opens doors & empowers the quality of your learning and teaching.BYOD should be related to pedagogy & not free for all. Responsibility should be taught & guidance from the teacher always available. Once again I love the connection to Optimus Prime as all teachers/ educators should be using many of the principles that he does. Another thought provoking blog Brett.

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