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Murray’s Corollary to Kranzberg’s First Law of Technology – Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.

September 24, 2009

“It doesn’t just make learning relevant; it makes teaching relevant as well,” says Susan Thompson in the ISTE’s Learning and Leading with Technology Journal, writing about Global Project Based Learning (GPBL). The counterpoint, by Kevin Scott, is the argument that GPBL is not a panacea for motivating all students, is so challenging to implement that it fails struggling students and does not always help them achieve mandated standards. If it’s so great, and the risks large, and the technology frequently prone to failure, it begs the question- why do teachers do Project Based Learning, let alone with a global focus?! Murray’s Corollary says that if technology can mess something up, it will, only faster!
There are often more obstacles than rewards and the learning curve is noticeably steep in GPBL. Technology, time, time zones, misconceptions, cultural awareness, cultural in-sensitivities, language barriers, collaboration skills, to name a few, seem almost insurmountable. With proper training of teachers (it’s appropriate at this moment to drop a shameless pitch for Wilkes University and this course at this point!), as well as proper preparation and anticipation of the challenges, GPBL can, and will be successful for our students. There are, after-all, huge rewards, as Thompson suggests, for both students and teachers.
The rewards of seeing students develop understandings about people and places and things that could not be otherwise learned is paramount. Developing an awareness of communities beyond one’s own locality is perhaps one of the greatest challenges to human existence. Solving climate, energy, economic, environmental and social problems without a global perspective will be near impossible as globalisation levels all playing fields. Our students deserve this kind of education. It’s their destiny. It may well be our destiny to provide it, and, as Thompson points out, make teaching relevant at the same time.

References

ED Teacher’s Guide to International Collaboration on the Internet– Pg 12. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2009, from http://www.ed.gov/teachers/how/tech/international/guide_pg12.html

Melvin, K. (1986). Technology and History: Kranzberg’s Laws. Technology and Culture, 27(3), 544-560.

Thompson, S., & Scott, K. (n.d.). Is PBL Practical?. Retrieved September 24, 2009, from http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Publications/LL/LLIssues/Volume_35_2007_2008_/AugustNo1/35108s.pdf

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