Wednesday, February 15, 2006

McLuhan's Wake

In my Ethics and Philosophy course we are using Marshal McLuhan's Tetrad structure to examine (but not judge) our artefacts. My artefact is MORPG's, more specifically Neverwinter Nights and the Aurora tool set. Here are the four questions McLuhan posed for new technology.
1. What does [this educational technology artefact] enhance or intensify?

2. What does it render obsolete or displace?

3. What does it retrieve that was previously obsolesced?

4. What does it produce or become when pressed to an extreme? (McLuhan & McLuhan 1988: 7)

The Enhance is easy. I think that for most of our projects we will be having learning being enhanced (or maybe teaching depending on how you look at it).

I am having a harder time with the obsolesced, retrieved, and the extreme levels of my technology. I am studying multi-player role playing games or multi user domains (MUDs) and their use as teaching/ learning tools. I do not believe that MUDs will fully replace anything.

Perhaps I need to think more to the extreme case of replacement. Ideally in my classroom I would like to see all of the learning that takes place to be under a constructivist model. This is an instructional design I feel can be used in the MUD. Perhaps I am aiming to replace myself as a teacher. However, I don't think that computers yet have the intuition or programmers the skill to replace me. I am able to react in more ways than a programmer can tell a game to react when students need scaffolding or extension.

I like the ideas that Marshall Mc Luhan has put forward they are definitely making me think of the implications of many technologies. These things are much more 'real life' uses and implications than most courses I've taken in the past. I'm feeling more media savvy already.

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