Because We Can Doesn’t Mean We Should

This weekend, our local over-the-air movie stations had a marathon of classic monster/science fiction movies. I watched a bit of King Kong (1976) with my daughter because you really can’t start too soon.

I immediately regret this decision.

Later, I swung back through and caught the beginning of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) – which, by the way, was the better of the two film versions. I caught the scene where Michael York and Burt Lancaster are discussing the ability to mix human and animal DNA:

Dr. Paul Moreau (Lancaster): How does a cell become enslaved to a form, to a destiny it can never change? Can we change that destiny?

Andrew Braddock (York): Should we?

Then, during the Super Bowl last night, I caught Chris Pratt asking the same question in the new Jurassic World trailer:

You just went and made a new dinosaur? Probably not a good idea.

Holy foreshadowing, Batman!

It reminds me of Jeff Goldblum’s similar line from the original:

John Hammond: I don’t think you’re giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody’s ever done before…

Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.

Oh, how our culture loves to ask rhetorical questions after the fact.

Tech in the classroom is in the same vein. Just because we can, should we?

Companies left and right are professing their capability of changing the way people learn through their brand-new-all-in-one-revolutionary-online-blended-learning-platform-sign-up-now pitches. Double bonus if it is built on brain science.

Just because we can put lessons online with videos and quizzes that work on all platforms doesn’t mean we should. But, we clamor for cross-platform compatibility and go to conferences to hear about the new stuff. Why aren’t we asking hard questions of the groups making the stuff?

Obligatory tech is important line yada yada.

Before diving into using the newest cool thing, stop and take a critical step backward. Is it really in your or your student’s best interest to take a ton of time and build a lesson on a new platform? What will they get out of it? Why is it better than whatever you had done before? How will you assess the growth because of the switch?

If we’re not asking these questions, we’re throwing our student’s education into the hands of the engineers. And we’re happy to do it, most times.

Maintain a critical eye. Hell, be cynical. It’ll protect you from doing something just because you can.

Okay, fine. This was a bad idea.

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