Letter to the Editor: ‘Technology is a tool’

To the editor:

I read with great interest the two Face Off columns in the Nov. 1 issue. The authors have given us a lot to think about in both essays.

Carman is absolutely right that technology is here to stay, and it should be. It has become an essential, if unavoidable, fact of life throughout our classrooms.  Students and faculty rely on it more than ever to facilitate the entire education process. The advantages it offers in research, for example, save time that can be invested in the writing based on that research.

Lopez, in counterpoint, scores a direct hit on the misuse of technology by students, in their personal as well as college lives. I think I speak for most faculty in that one of our most important and challenging tasks is keeping students’ attention engaged in the subject matter, instead of on the screen. But let me dispel the notion that you are the first generation to partake in this activity.

I can remember many years ago when I was a student and people would hold their textbooks upright on their desks, looking for all the world like scholars deeply immersed in the subject. And, of course, behind those textbooks were comic books or magazines. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Here is the fundamental point: technology is a tool, a significant tool, but only a tool. More than 160 years ago, in 1854, Henry Thoreau wrote, “Men have become the tools of their tools.” Have we become the tool of our tools? Technology is not the doorway to a great new world, nor is it this great evil that will overtake us all. It all comes down to how we use it.

Technology presents us information and what passes for communication at a click. But it cannot, and never will, displace what we possess as humans.  We bring to any topic our judgment, our empathy, our understanding and our ability to make decisions. What we, as faculty, hope to help our students achieve are those very crucial abilities to take information, ponder it and then act upon it as only humans can.

 — J.R. Inzero

Professor of business administration

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