Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Technology in the Eyes of a Child

by Gener Luis Morada, Country Representative, Virtual PC

Being in a room full of school administrators, teachers, parents and government officials could be one of the most terrifying experiences of an internet café owner with an educational advocacy. Most of the times I often sit there and wait till I am acknowledge. If asked of what I do for a living what comes into my mind is what Eric Raymond has narrated in "Revolution OS" and franklya tell them "I am your worst nightmare."

Last Tuesday, February 3, 2009, I was fortunate enough to be invited in the "Round Table Discussion on Elearning" that was organized by the British Council and the British Alumni Association. Participants were the major stakeholders in incorporating the use of technology in Philippine education. There were the usual officials of the Department of Education, school administrators, those in the private and the NGOs that are providing assistance to the educational sector in the field of technology. I have attended similar activities in the past and most of the time the usual discussions takes place.

Mr. Gavin Dudeney, the main presentor for the round table discussion asked the participants about their experiences in the Philippines on how technology is being integrated in education. The participants responded with the usual answers like the lack of hardware, the resistance to change of some teachers, lack of infrastructure, lack of standards and others which was the usual reply in activities like these. These are problems that were identified in so numerous activities of the Deped that one could be tired of hearing about it all over again.

During the discussion a though has occurred to me that it seems that the participant's approach in incorporating technology in education is more on the adult or a managers perception on how to do it. We often complain that no matter what's being done is not always enough to suit the needs. It's very stiff and often very working on certain boundaries. Maybe a new prospective is needed in order to give these problems a new twist.

Technology in the Eyes of the Child

In the Bible (please don't ask me where since I only remembered it through my religion classes in my long years of studying in a catholic school) when Jesus asked about faith he answered that one should see it through the eyes of the child. Maybe that is what we are forgetting that in our haste of incorporating technology in education we failed to consider how technology is being perceived in the eyes of a child.

Technology in the eyes of child is fun. I remember the time I was growing up, it was 1972 and martial law was just declared. During that time almost all television shows were cancelled except for cartoons and Sesame Street. Those who were well off during those times could afford television for it was too expensive then that the whole neighborhood was watching television right there in your living room or through your windows. At those time, Filipinos were very much proficient in the English language since the television shows and movies back them were mostly in English. Fast forward 30 years hence we find ourselves in a situation of having a generation of Filipinos failing English proficiency examinations or who could hardly read and write in functional English.

Our educational officials are finger pointing as to how we have reach this point that it is very difficult to comprehend since we do have a lot of Doctors in Education but yet we have a generation that is failing in English proficiency. The answer could lie in the fact that we have taken a very stiff approach to the problem. In our world right now English is something that is very structured or a combination of words and its relationships such as adverbs, adjectives, nouns, open sentences and so many technical jargons. We forget about one thing that learning should be fun and one learn something very eagerly when he is having fun. Our world right now is a world of complexities that I find it amusing to learn that there is now a prohibition to air past episodes of Sesame Street most especially the episodes done in the 1960's since they considered the scene of milking the cow as a cruel and inhumane way of treating animals for heaven's sake.

Recently I saw the pictures posted in Facebook by Ms. Ruth Marya, an Indonesian friend and colleague studying at the President's Open Source University about their recent activity teaching open source to children. I emailed her and requested an outline of their program. What she shared with me provided an insight Ruth being young not like me only young at heart. In explaining what an operating system is all about she told the participants that it is the soul of the computer that without it the computer would just be a shell. In the end of her long email that after she itemize the software they were using she said they had a lot of fun. I guess that's it we have to take back the fun part in technology in our schools so that our children would learn.

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