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The Technologisation of Education and the Pathway to Depersonalisation and Dehumanisation



Contrary to the conventional wisdom, it is a central contention of this piece that there exists a growing crisis of depersonalisation and dehumanisation which has emerged from the computechnological texturing of contemporary society. We shall endeavour to show that the primary mode of electronic communication is characterised by the covert depersonalisation of human relations. Depersonalisation, as we shall define this computechnological dimension of the problem refers to the condition of human relationships wherein we have come progressively to substitute face-to-face human exchange in preference for technologically mediated forms of electronic communication. One significant paradox to be explored here will reveal that we personalise and anthropomorphise our computechnology, while simultaneously depersonalising ourselves and treating others as if they were machines. The criterion of 'employment-efficiency-expectation', as we call it, is now determined by the work capabilities of computechnology, not the work-potential of humans defined in terms of integrated well-being and mental health. When we increasingly treat each other as machines, and our machines as humans, the time has truly come to reflect not only on how we value our relationships with each other, but on the way in which we have come, somewhat mindlessly, to value the very tools of technology which depersonalise and in turn dehumanise those relationships.
Asian Journal of Social Science Studies; Vol. 2, No. 2; 2017
ISSN 2424-8517 E-ISSN 2424-9041
Published by July Press
The Technologisation of Education and the Pathway to
Depersonalisation and Dehumanisation
Ronald Samuel Laura1 & Fraser Douglas Hannam2
1 Professor in Education, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia
2 Professional Experience Unit, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia; Lecturer, Alphacrucis College
at Cardiff
Correspondence: Mr Fraser Douglas Hannam, Professional Experience Unit, The University of Newcastle,
Callaghan, Australia.
Received: March 21, 2017 Accepted: April 20, 2017 Online Published: May 26, 2017
doi:10.20849/ajsss.v2i2.155 URL:
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, it is a central contention of this piece that there exists a growing crisis of
depersonalisation and dehumanisation which has emerged from the computechnological texturing of
contemporary society. We shall endeavour to show that the primary mode of electronic communication is
characterised by the covert depersonalisation of human relations. Depersonalisation, as we shall define this
computechnological dimension of the problem refers to the condition of human relationships wherein we have
come progressively to substitute face-to-face human exchange in preference for technologically mediated forms
of electronic communication. One significant paradox to be explored here will reveal that we personalise and
anthropomorphise our computechnology, while simultaneously depersonalising ourselves and treating others as
if they were machines. The criterion of 'employment-efficiency-expectation', as we call it, is now determined by
the work capabilities of computechnology, not the work-potential of humans defined in terms of integrated
well-being and mental health. When we increasingly treat each other as machines, and our machines as humans,
the time has truly come to reflect not only on how we value our relationships with each other, but on the way in
which we have come, somewhat mindlessly, to value the very tools of technology which depersonalise and in
turn dehumanise those relationships.
Keywords: computer paradoxes, computer-pedagogy, depersonalisation, dehumanisation, incivility, loneliness
and depression
1. Introduction
Technology is now a ubiquitous part of how we ‘do life’ and it is no great feat to take up the lens of historical
hindsight and point an accusing finger back through time in order to identify the antecedents surrounding the
origins of its various indiscretions against humanity. We do not speculate that there was ever a single historical
point where technological and educational stakeholders convened with the sole and deliberate purpose of seeking
out the most efficient manner of dehumanizing the next generation, of leaving our children alienated and
relationally emaciated through an infusion of technological outcomes into the school curriculum, be it in the
name of economic prosperity and / or collective control. Nonetheless, these things are happening.
The burden of this piece is to show that this mindless obsession with computechnology has led our culture to
become blind to the almost imperceptible impacts on human relationships and the forms of depersonalisation
which have resulted from it. To keep this paper within manageable bounds we focus here on one outcome of
what we refer to as the 'compuphilia paradox'. In this context, the paradox is meant to reveal the extent to which
society has so fervently adopted computechnology that it has now become commonplace to anthropomorphise
(i.e.. ascribe human attributes to our computechnological devices, while at the same time unabashedly and
progressively treating humans as if they were machines. The implications of this paradigmatic shift have
momentous pedagogic and sociocultural consequences. Many people now ‘christen’ their computer with a name
and excuse its aberrant behaviour, while mechanistic breakdowns become anthropomorphised descriptions of
otherwise apposite and compassionate concerns for humans. For example, when a computer is slow in booting
up, or exhibiting aberrations of mechanical functionality, it is not unusual for users to say that the computer is
'exhausted," 'suffering from Monday morning blues', 'temperamental', 'depressed', has a virus, or is even 'on Asian Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 2, No. 2; 2017
strike", all of which are descriptions traditionally reserved for and ascribed to humans. On the other hand when a
person works less effectively at a workplace task, or misunderstands a supervisory request, it is not unusual for
the person involved to be reprimanded and contemptuously castigated with phrases such as, 'come on, get with
the program', 'get plugged in', 'boot up', or even, 'get connected'. Indeed, we now live in a culture which
expresses adulation for an especially diligent worker with a compliment such as, 'he works like a machine'. We
even use mechanistically inspired metaphoric phrases of accolade such as 'you are a machine' to simulate a
mechanistic attributes of personal identity to a human being. In essence, we sympathetically treat the mechanistic
failings of our computers as human shortcomings, but dispassionately chastise those who display human
shortcomings by directly suggesting that they need to be more machine-like. Moreover, when the performance
outcomes of humans are admirable, many people bedazzled by computechnology have no hesitation in
passionately praising them by describing them as ‘muscle-machines', though they are in fact 'humans.'
Given this paradoxical situation, the onus on curriculum developers and educators now becomes one of recanting
the indiscretions of the computechnological dimensions of depersonalisation and dehumanisation that have
become embedded features of the computechnological pedagogy of paradigmatic World View. The goal is to
strike a balance between the introduction of technological ‘tools’, while at the same time ensuring that these
instruments are not implemented at the expense of the highly personalised interactions and modalities of deep
connectivity between student and teacher.
2. A Society of Technological Giants without Vision
Given the increasing awareness of the pedagogic importance of the depth of bonding between students and
teachers, there is a mordant irony in the fact that so little critical reflection exists which questions whether
computer-based learning is systematically depersonalising the school environment. To understand the source of
this facet of the paradox we first need to comprehend why western culture is far too quick to applaud the success
of technology, while at the same time, reluctantly slow to recant its indiscretions. Because technology is now a
defining characteristic of the modern age, so to say, we are as a culture more inclined to embrace new
technologies unreflectively than to assess them critically. One plausible explanation for this discrepancy is that
technology has itself come to function as the standard measure of progress and thus as the primary means of
resolving our problems, whether they be technological or not. Another explanation concerns the fact that
technology, by its very nature, is introduced not after it has been evaluated, but so it can be evaluated. Feedback
comes from the testing ground of the human societal guinea pig. Longitudinal research into far deeper
problematic issues on the anthropological side of the coin have been a long time coming and in most cases are
too late to placate the uptake and spread of the digital ‘infection’. And as so often happens when we realise we
can do something, we tend to neglect even that simple check '…but should we do it? The naive presumption is
that surely nothing negative can flow from such a pure intension and the almost divine-like providence that
technology so generously bestows on us.
This being so, it is perhaps unsurprising that computechnology has been assimilated into the school curriculum
more as matter of course, than as a consequence of critically rational assessment and philosophical discussion.
Within the culture of what we have called compuphilia, the trust we put in computer-based education may not so
much have been earned, as it has been inherited as part of our socio-cultural commitment to, and ethos of a
technological worldview. Is it not possible that we have become so bedazzled by the power of technology to let
us walk upon the earth as giants that we have failed in the educational context to discern that we now walk the
earth as blind technological giants who have lost our way? The transition was almost seamless and rather than be
satisfied with its position as a discretionary instrument within our pedagogical tool kit, the god of technology has
usurped the position of pedagogy itself. Stoll states, “a poor substitute it is this virtual reality where frustration is
legion and where- in the holy name of Education and progress-important aspects of human interaction are
relentlessly devalued” (Stoll, 1995, p. 4).
Technological power does not in itself bequeath philosophical vision, but without that vision we have only a
shadow of a picture of what it is that gives education its value and in turn confirms that the educational goals we
seek are actually worth pursuing. In a study conducted by Warschauer et al. (2004) on computer use in American
schools, for example, he concluded that placing computers and internet connections, especially in low-SES
schools in and of itself “does little to address the serious educational challenges faced by these schools”
(Warschauer et al, 2004, p. 585). Thus, even when it is so admirably discerned that the bonds between students
and teachers represent an integral constituent of effective pedagogy, the suspicion that computer –based
education could possibly serve as an impediment to such bonding rarely occurs. Surely if technology were so
appealing we should not try to compete for the engagement of our students? Surely somewhere embedded in the
code is something far more engrossing than anything a trained, experience and professional school teacher might Asian Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 2, No. 2; 2017
hope to employ as a means to connect with the hearts of their students? Certainly it is easier to assume the
former rather than face the possibility that our lessons might not be as appealing as we first thought and so hand
them over to the machine rather than fight for a deep emotional connection with our classes?
3. Secularising the Sacred
The concept of technology is admittedly multifaceted, and it is no part of our purpose here to get mired in the
semantic morass of definitional demarcation which surrounds it. Suffice to say, there exists a subtle but
monumental difference between the sense of technology as it refers to the specific machines, tools or devices we
use to direct or facilitate our interactions within the world around us, on the one hand, and the sense of
technology as a ‘World View’, on the other. The point of important distinction we are endeavouring to bring to
bold relief here is that we no longer simply use technology; we imbibe it, and we actually live it. This being so,
technology is ascribed an authority and priority in our lives that we believe is tantamount to theologizing it. We
literally experience our existence in the midst of our technologies, and we use technology to become co-creators
of a technological world. Our lives, our movements, and even our values become technologically textured. In a
bizarre sense it could be said that in so doing, we unwittingly ‘sacralize’ what is in essence ‘secular’ and we
secularize what is in essence sacred. Part of the problem is that we have, as a culture, been seduced into
believing that technology, in general, is the panacea or ‘cure-all’ for all our problems. This being so, we
theologize it by idealising it as a form of salvation. It is touted not only as a form of socio-salvation, but is
regarded in some cases as a modality of spiritual salvation, by way of which wholeness, peace and
self-completion can be brought to fruition.
Because we are surrounded by and immersed in the technological texturing of our lives, we tend not to notice
how profoundly technology has impacted on every aspect of the way we live, including the sacredness, as it
were, of our relationships with each other.
Indeed, what might be called the ‘theology of technology’ has become so pervasive that educators are seduced
into thinking that they cannot live without the materialist catechism it extols. This being so, we are blinded to the
growing body of evidence and human experience which strongly suggests that we cannot live without it, when
the truth is that Computechnology has become so ubiquitous that it is now increasingly difficult to live with it.
4. The Myth of Computopia
We are now in a position to make explicit our main reservations about computer- based education. The persistent
claims and promises for the most recent innovations in computer mediated communication are inescapable. This
technological ‘advance’, it is argued, will bring to our lives knowledge, power, pleasure, personal liberation, and
unlimited shopping (Brook & Boal, 1995, viii). On this rational, whatever is lacking in our lives can be provided
by way of greater access to new forms of communication, entertainment and information, all of which can be
provided by the computer. Indeed, we can now confess our sins online at the Vatican, order pizza to our door and
play chess with someone on the other side of the world. We have manufactured the vacuous life of nothing, and
surrendered it to the ether. The ‘net’ has indeed captured us in its ‘web’.
Nonetheless, let us make plain that we have no wish to deny the many benefits which computechnology makes
available both inside and outside the classroom. Lest we be misunderstood, we are not proposing that students
surrender their computechnological tools at the school gates before entering our halls. It is clear that they are
presently so adept in wielding their tools that they would feel lost without them. Nor do we wish to contest that
in certain contexts computechnology may both encourage and facilitate the cultivation of personal relationships
across the continuum of human interchange. Using computechnological devices such as Zoom, FaceTime, Skype
and WeChat to communicate with distant loved ones, or for business negotiations, etc, especially on the other
side of the world, represents a frontier breakthrough on the part of IT science.
The problem to which we are alluding is a different one, and its resolution depends primarily on qualitative
considerations, not on quantitative ones. The first consideration to be addressed relates to the fact that while it is
to be admitted that appropriate contexts exist for the use of computechnology, we have as a culture, partly as a
consequence of vested political and economic interests, generalized the specific cases of its acceptable use in
such a way that the application of any specific form of technology in question becomes universal. For example,
it has been only a few years since it was acknowledged that enrolment procedures for students who resided long
distances from the university could be facilitated, and thus their enrolment procedures made more
administratively ‘efficient’ by enrolling ‘on-line’. Shortly thereafter, however, it was legislated that enrolments
for all students would have to be organized on-line. From a specifically justified principle for the use of
computechnology in one context, an almost imperceptible extrapolation was made which universalised the
principle in other contexts in which it has not been justified. This being so, we thereby diminish options for Asian Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 2, No. 2; 2017
students by standardising procedures which by their very nature discourage face to face interchange. Because
provision of on-line courses for distance students may be justified, it clearly does not follow, by parity of
reasoning, that any justification has been provided to show that all university courses should be offered on-line
and only on-line, though it is incontestable that such degree courses as this already exist.
By embracing the theologized form of secular life within which the technology of electronic communication is
embedded, we at one and the same time marginalize and compromise the value of face to face interchange. The
more that the use of computers is demanded of us, the more we shall be distracted from the salient value of
cultivating truly deep face to face human experiences. From this value presumption, however, it does not follow
that people should never spend time at a computer screen. Nor does it mean that if you spend time at a computer,
you will never have any deep human experiences. It just means that the burgeoning obsession with
computechnology creates its own subculture within which its constituents are covertly encouraged to rely ever
more fervently on the machine s&n puts pressure on people to live human lives” (Lakoff, 1995, p. 124). This
being so, our reliance upon computechnology and its various modes of communication (eg. Mobile phones,
video games, tablets and internet transactions, etc) become ever more embedded, taken for granted, and thus
socially ubiquitous, without philosophical reflection as to why this should be so.
Should we not be asking whether our resolute commitment to computer-based learning serves unwittingly to
devalue the qualitative experience of our children’s education by increasingly substituting face to face classroom
interchanges with mechanically mediated informational transmissions characterised primarily by the processing
of data? Is it not worth considering that the more time we encourage school children to spend in the isolated
context of the computer screen, the less time they spend actually interacting with their teachers, and the less time
they spend learning how to interact with others to form bonds of trust and loyalty, not grounded in electronically
mediated messaging. Should we not be concerned philosophically that the pedagogic goal of computopia may in
the end serve inadvertently to propagate contexts of depersonalization, not only in schools, but in both the
workplace and the wider community? (Laura & Chapman, 2009)
It is not surprising that many of the ‘value-based’ qualities such as resilience, perseverance, consistency,
confidence, relational intelligence, leadership skills, and service to the community are the very virtues that
experienced and proficient teachers seek to inculcate in their students (Becker and Luther 2002). It has also been
established that endeavouring to teach such values with electronically based devices serves to compromise the
pedagogic efficacy of student capacity for value appropriation (Duckworth and Yeager 2015; Seider 2012), It
has also been argued that computechnologically structured teaching is not as conducive to developing social and
moral sensibilities and may even prove to impede the holistic progress of the child, particularly in the areas of
creativity and socio-emotional health. For example, Gardner and Davis (2013); Turkle (2011); Uhls et al. (2014)
found that preteens who refrained from using their devices for five days (in favor of face-to-face interactions)
were more adept at reading and interpreting human emotions.
5. Computechnolical Colonisation
That computechnology has facilitated and proliferated the forms of communication now available to us in
incontestable. It is salutary to remind ourselves, however, that the more forms of mechanistic communication we
increasingly institutionalise and embed educationally to expand the culture of computechnology, the increasingly
less intimate and more depersonalised scenarios become. Indeed, electronically mediated methods eventually
become a substitute for the face to face human interactions and learning transactions that the electronic medium
was ironically designed to promulgate. Simply put, the argument advanced here affirms that the
depersonalisation of human relationships and the modalities of dehumanisation which follow from it are an
ineluctable consequence of universalising the highly mechanised modes of communication which characterise
computechnology. This is a salient reason why the mind set which results from the now growing global
obsession with computechnological interaction can be regarded as a veritable addiction. We have called this
addiction 'compuphilia' which presently features as a socially legitimated and educationally enshrined syndrome
which unreflectively encourages the love of computechnology, without adequately understanding the extent to
which this pedagogic commitment defies validation. Moreover, the burgeoning universality and ubiquity of
computechnological colonisation is by its very nature an egregious threat to the cultivation and preservation of
empathetically inspired and loving relationships. The failure to understand the nature of this threat is why the
comutechnological paradigm has devoured its competitors and created a constantly expanding empire of vested
interest and economic supremacy. In consequence, we have mindlessly and cavalierly anthropomorphised our
machines, while at the same time dehumanising ourselves in the service of their preservation and imperialism.
Consequently, these contrary dispositions give rise to serious moral antinomies which have been badly
neglected. As intimated earlier, humans are now expected by their employers- or we demand it of ourselves- to Asian Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 2, No. 2; 2017
work at our computers, not only throughout the day, but sometimes tirelessly in to the night. One promise of
computopia was to give us all, even school children, more leisure time, but the truth is that when we have more
leisure time, we all too often spend it working or ‘playing’ at the computer in virtual isolation. I-Pods, I-Pads,
and Tablets are just another symptom of this growing trend towards what we shall call ‘technological
isolationism’. It is well worth noting that to date insufficient attention has been paid to the deleterious physical
and mental effects of these new forms of social isolation, with regard to loneliness, alienation, depression, and
increasing rates of suicide(See, for example, Laura, R.S. et al, The New Social Disease, 2010). It is no longer
uncommon to see a group of young people who have decided to get together for dinner sitting in isolation,
huddled up with their phones individually texting, emailing, shopping, playing games, etc. In such circumstances
they are together, but paradoxically, they are not together. This truth is witnessed by the fact that they only rarely
feel obliged to disengage from their phones to talk to each other. They may have agreed to come out to be
together, but in reality, their union is an idle ritual of voluntary solitude and loneliness. While they have gathered
together, they are disconnected by having voluntarily chosen the purgatory of 'self-isolation'. They are ‘linked in’
but it is by proxy –a faceless interface acting as a ‘go-between’. More often than not they are on Faceless
‘Facebook’, interacting with hundreds of ‘friends’ they do not really know –and are essentially desensitized to
this reality.
Because we spend progressively more time communicating through, or working in isolation with our
computechnological devices, we tend not to notice that we are spending less time, and certainly less quality time
with each other. In particular, given the technologically structured contexts of learning through
computechnology, the potential for creating deep and bonding relationships between teachers and students has
become decidedly diminished. Potentially intimate and vital personal relationships are in essence being
channeled without much, if any notice on society’s part, into impersonal one- dimensional, and mechanistically
mediated ones. We have slipped, that is to say, almost imperceptibly into a different state of consciousness, or
simulacrum of human relationship, which structurally encourages the substitution of face to face forms of human
interchange with technologically mediated forms of communication, even when face-to-face communication is
Applauditory claims that computer networks improve student collaborations are far less convincing than has
been presumed. A scholarly literature has now accumulated to show that the notion of group assignments benefit
students most when everyone is together simultaneously in the one room. Of particular significance here is
research from Harvard Psychiatrist, Edward Hallowell whose concept of the human moment provides a powerful
argument for the paramount importance of teacher -student personalisation. Hallowell, for instance, writes of the
loss of an interactive phenomenon which he calls the human moment, that is, an authentic psychological
experience that can only be generated by individuals occupying the same physical space (1999, p. 59).
Hallowell’s argument is that human moments have become increasingly rare within modern society and that its
absence from our lives holds the potential to lead to alienation and social disconnection. For Hallowell, human
moments are defined in terms of energy exchange amongst humans. What the human moment requires, for
example, is for us to make provision to set aside some of the things with which we are mechanically occupied
and to disengage ourselves from our computechnological contraptions, and to reconnect with the person or
persons who are present with us. When this is achieved, states Hallowell, a personal and powerful context of
energy interchange is created which is itself an integral part of intimate communication. It is in this way that
human moments are said to “quickly create a force field of exceptional power” (1999, p. 60), the positive effects
of which can be felt long after the moment has been experienced, thereby providing a balance between
personalised and highly humanised interchanges on the one hand, and depersonalised and dehumanised
interactions with our machines on the other.
Hallowell states that when engaged in human moments, “[people begin to think in new and creative ways; mental
activity is stimulated” (1999, p. 60). Extrapolate Hallowell’s concept of the human moment to the reality of
students ‘facing-off’ with their computers instead of their teachers and the problem of depersonalization is
brought into sharp focus. Hallowell’s extensive research in this area strongly establishes the positive outcomes of
those forms of interchange which arise out of a context of a creatively energized moments of human connectivity
that far outweigh the depersonalized benefits of any collaboration of disembodied thoughts sent across a
network. Moreover, if one considers that university students live and study in proximity to each other, at least
during semester, the question arises why such computer networking is required to facilitate group work. If the
goal of teaching a concept such as cooperation is to be maximized, it is essential for students to work together in
the same room at the same time, at least some of the time. By virtue of their group interaction students can
quickly come to recognize emergent problems or dynamics of group conflicts and resolve them accordingly. Asian Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 2, No. 2; 2017
(Griffiths, T. & Cooper, S., 2005) The situation we have at the moment is pernicious, as student environments in
schools and especially in tertiary institutions are structurally designed to have students work in virtual isolation
with their computechnological devises.
Given the foregoing reflections, it is clear that the educational commitment of western culture to
technologisation has resulted in the depersonalization of some of the most fundamental and salient aspects of
human interchange. This being so, far more thought needs to be given to understanding the extent to which the
technologically based educational shift to computer- based learning has compromised the integrity of our
educational experience. Not only have technological applications hastened the shift of educational purpose, but
they have resulted in a reduction in face-to-face human contact and a reduction in the contexts for human
interchange and interaction within the educational milieu. (McDevitt, T. M., & Ormrod, J.E., 2004). There is
little doubt that such technologically based forms of education are rooted both in our social separations and in
our alienation from nature. In turn they encourage not only depersonalized ways of thinking but also
depersonalized modes of being and living in isolation which are then disseminated into the wider community.
When all is said, the substitution of technological innovation for the phenomenon of human interchange
represents a deep wound to the human spirit.
The more time we dedicate educationally to our technological conveniences: the more time, for example, that
individuals spend at a computer, and the less time they or we could be spending building personal relationships
which in turn make us more rather than less alive and more rather than less like the inert machines with which
we surround ourselves. If too much of our educational time is taken up learning an extrinsic forms of skills based
training designed to ready students for their place in the workforce, we may in fact be doing far too little to
prepare the children of the world for life. There comes a point where the economically rationalised pursuit of
more technological learning will actually bring us less wisdom and less understanding.
For those amongst us who are in the field of education, or are ourselves educated within the framework of
high-tech environments (an ever increasing majority), there is an urgent necessity to redress the balance of the
high-tech educative experience with high-contact educative environments. The type of learning experience
proffered here involves more than the provision of skills in readiness for work. It involves a form of intimate
connectivity, connectivity with other human beings, and connectivity with the living things of this planet.
Education must reaffirm its commitment to preserve the educative contexts of face-to-face human interchange
which serve to humanize rather than dehumanize us.
Reassuringly, Semenova et al. (2016), have found that the basic definition of scholastic ‘interaction’ has
emerged relatively unscathed from the technological grinder -that it remains a process of mutual influence: “The
pedagogical process is a bilateral interaction: the teacher on the one side and the student on the other side.” (p.
2564). This discussion is augmented by Hood & Lander (2016), in their comparison between preformatted
lecture presentations disseminated through university portals and ‘live lectures’. They found that the -
“……pedagogic discourse the students encounter in the live lectures is one in which, relatively speaking,
knowledge is more often exchanged in the here-and-now of the material situational setting, more often
involves movements between more congruent and metaphoric construals of meaning, and is more often
negotiated in the ‘me-and-you’ of the speaker / addressee interaction” (p. 38).
Similarly, Grasedieck, (2016) in an aptly name study ‘Not computers, only teachers can make education
exciting’, identified that “only person-to-person learning can ensure the competencies of the next generation”
(p.14). It would seem that there is something fundamental to being a human being and the personalised process
of knowledge transfer and more importantly ‘meaning' creation that grows organically out of the ‘to and fro’ of
live pedagogic interaction. Arguably facts, and perhaps even knowledge, can flow through technological
conduits but meaning and wisdom, it would appear, are teased, goaded and knitted between two needles of
teacher and student face-to-face interaction.
The god of technology is certainly a cold, impersonal and relentless teacher of children. It provides immediate
feedback each and every time in an infinitely patient robotic loop. But it won’t teach patience or delayed
gratification. Its loop will ensure a level of mastery not possible in the world, but it will not impart intrinsic
motivation, perseverance and the gumption to see a task through to completion. Radesky et al. (2016 )
re-empowers not only educationalists, but parents and caregivers:
…. clinicians can remind parents that they are their child’s best teacher, and the best application cannot
parallel the developmental benefits of hands-on, structured, face-to-face, or outdoors play. When children do
learn new things from applications or educational programming, parents should help their child apply this new
knowledge to the 3-dimensional world around them by exploring the new concept through play or Asian Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 2, No. 2; 2017
conversation …. For example, if parents show a child how to use a tablet’s camera to take photos and create
stories, the child will likely see tablets as a creative tool, rather than only serving entertainment or soothing
purposes. (p. 507).
6. Conclusion
We have from the outset made it clear that our primary objective in this piece has been to explore the
sociocultural phenomenon of what we have identified as 'compuphilia'. Despite the many benefits of
computechnological development, we have been slow as a culture of technophiles to recant its indiscretions and
reflect critically upon the impact which compuphelia is having, particularly among schoolchildren worldwide, in
the pursuit of loneliness through the loss of genuine intimacy of deep rather than cosmetic or sexually utilitarian
relationships of convenience. We have in essence witnessed the birth of a global culture which secularises many
of the things that were once sacred, while simultaneously 'sacrilising' many of the things that were once secular.
In so doing, we are turning the world of human relationships on its head. Admittedly, we have only had time to
tease out some of the neglected implications of compuphelia, as they pertain to the depersonalisation of human
relationships and the dehumanisation of human beings as a consequence. It is incontestable that we live in the era
of technological giants, but we have endeavoured to bring into bold relief the deeper truth that without serious
philosophical reflection, we will inevitably become a global culture of ' blinded giants' who have lost our way
and our sense of purposive direction. Leadership in education should be designed to emancipate us from myopic
conceptual schemes and the commercial infrastructures which imprison us. We need to restore the place of value
in our pedagogies and put in perspective the preoccupation with testing. Making people good at testing is not the
same as making them into good or happy people, or in making them good at life, which is not necessarily the
same as making them good at their jobs. Far too many people give up having a good life in exchange for having
a good job. What if we discovered that having a good life involved transforming the value orientation of yourself
and the world around you? What if we focused education more on helping students to make the world a better
place? What if we taught them the value of enhancing their compassionate empathy for each other, rather than
using each other as a means to an end, be it for sexual pleasure, self aggrandisement or the disempowerment of
Most of us know that computechnology can empower us and make us very strong, but we need to know also that
compuphilia can make us very weak, because obsession is a form of addiction, and addiction is a form of
paralysis of imagination, leading to conformity. Conformity leads to promulgating the Status Quo, and we do not
make the world a better place by keeping the world as it is. We tend to forget, for example, or prefer not to be
reminded that the status of computechnology depends in large part on the corporate vested interests of the
companies that produce computer technology which is designed to be obsolete and out of date at the time of its
being launched. This being so, the newness of its marketing introduction will soon be superseded by new
technologies, ironically already existing and waiting in line to usher in the next wave of sales that sustain the
commercial goal of relentless marketability.
Lest we be misunderstood, it has been no part of our purpose to deny that computer technology can serve to
facilitate communication with others who are remote from us, or in proximity, depending upon circumstances,
and whether the medium of contact is undertaken by way of e-mail, videoconferencing, teleconferencing, on-line
banking, home shopping, electronic voting or telecommuting.
Notwithstanding these benefits, we have been concerned to argue here that the potential for integrated well-being
and the forming of deep and trusting relationships not only between teachers and students, but between us all is
an integral factor in educational outcomes. (Monfries, M & McAlpine, R., 2005).
Our view is that the value of all this is being jeopardised by the increasing reliance on computechnology as the
predominant medium within which education is administered and mediated at virtually every level of teaching.
A central concern of this piece has been to show that such electronic technologies can easily become
depersonalising and dehumanising, when the computehnological relationships they galvanise are regularly
substituted for the face to face personal modes of human contact and interchange, which by their very nature
have the potential to be intrinsically richer than electronically mediated ones. This is as true in the educational
context as it is in society generally. When we sacralise technology, we are at one and the same time
marginalising the potential of our humanity, and in the final analysis it is the promulgation of our humanity and
the empathy for service to others in need that gives us the best chance of a better world.
Put another way, the argument advanced here has endeavoured to establish that notwithstanding its many
benefits, the much applauded technologisation of the modern world is leading ineluctably to the
depersonalisation of fundamentally intimate aspects of human relations. Not only have we come to mediate our Asian Journal of Social Science Studies Vol. 2, No. 2; 2017
natural experiences of human relationships via mechanistic interactions, but we have technologized our lives in
such a way that it is becoming ever more difficult to conduct the vast array of our communications with each
other in any other way. This is the lamentable legacy of compuphilia which now confronts us.
We have argued that while computechnology may have a salient role to play in education, compuphilia serves
inadvertently to weaken the unions of loyalty, commitment and trust between teachers and students which would
otherwise enhance educational achievement and levels of student satisfaction. The bonds of loyalty and trust,
deriving from genuinely intimate relationships, feature as essential elements in the dynamics of all human
relationships, but they are absolutely critical to loving and truly creative ones (Zins, J.E., Weissberg, R.P., Wang,
M. C., Walberg, H.J., 2004).
We have endeavoured to show that while technology has made electronic modes of communication increasingly
accessible to us, the forms of communication upon which we have come progressively to depend are themselves
for the most part, decreasingly intimate. This being so, we have been concerned to argue that the ensuing loss of
intimacy alters the nature of education irrevocably, and not necessarily for the best.
Having surrounded ourselves with machines, and having now brought the computer into our homes and schools,
technology has itself become a value which is being used as a measure of the worth of the world around us.
When all is said, the substitution of technological innovation for the phenomenon of human interchange
represents a deep wound to the human spirit. We thus become caught in the web of a bizarre moral ambiguity.
We still claim we value people, but we are not entirely certain what we value them for. Within the context of this
moral ambiguity, it is difficult to see how the relationship of bonding between students and teachers, so critical
to educational outcomes, can be maximally fostered.
7. Future Work
Future research is necessary in order to assess the longitudinal impact of compuphilia on the holistic
development of school children, and in turn upon their capacity to develop themselves into productive and
relationally intelligent members of society. Exploration will be needed to ascertain which aspects of technology
serve in particular ways that uniquely strengthen the learning experiences of children beyond traditional
methods. Once this point is established, it will be easier to determine the identity and importance of those
exclusive learning domains and purposes upon which strategies for both the deployment, and confinement of
technological tools can be identified. Research should also aim to isolate and expose those areas of learning for
which computechnological depersonalisation and dehumanisation are clearly deleterious to the learning process
and long term wellbeing of the students
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Incl. bibl., abstract This qualitative study compared the availability of, access to, and use of new technologies in a group of low - and high socioeconomic status (SES) California high schools. Although student-computer ratios in the schools were similar, the social contexts of computer use differed, with low-SES schools affected by uneven human support networks, irregular home access to computers by students, and pressure to raise school test scores while addressing the needs of large numbers of English learners. These differences were expressed within three main patterns of technology access and use, labeled performativity, workability, and complexity, each of which shaped schools' efforts to deploy new technologies for academic preparation.
Purpose: Mobile technology is ubiquitous, but its impact on family life has not been thoroughly addressed in the scientific literature or in clinical practice guidelines. We aimed to understand parents' views regarding mobile technology use by young children, aged 0 to 8 years, including perceived benefits, concerns, and effects on family interactions, with the goal of informing pediatric guidelines. Methods: We conducted 35 in-depth, semistructured group and individual interviews with English-speaking caregivers of diverse ethnic backgrounds, educational levels, and employment statuses. After thematic saturation, results were validated through expert triangulation and member checking. Results: Participants included 22 mothers, 9 fathers, and 4 grandmothers; 31.4% were single parents, 42.9% were of nonwhite race or ethnicity, and 40.0% completed high school or less. Participants consistently expressed a high degree of tension regarding their child's mobile technology use, from which several themes emerged: (1) effects on the child-fear of missing out on educational benefits vs concerns about negative effects on thinking and imagination; (2) locus of control-wanting to use digital devices in beneficial ways vs feeling that rapidly evolving technologies are beyond their control (a tension more common in low-income caregivers); and (3) family stress-the necessity of device use in stressed families (eg, to control a child's behavior or as an inexpensive learning/entertainment tool) vs its displacement of family time. Conclusions: Caregivers of young children describe many novel concepts regarding use of mobile technology, raising issues not addressed by current anticipatory guidance. Guidance may be more effectively implemented if it takes into account parents' uncertainties, locus of control, and functional uses of mobile devices in families.
The study covers the problems of pedagogical technologies and their experimental implementation in the learning process. The theoretical aspects of the "studentteacher" interaction are investigated. A structural and functional model of pedagogical interaction is offered, which determines the conditions for improving pedagogical interaction in the educational process: resolving learning situations during the interaction of teachers and students; organizing interaction by combining active teaching techniques that are related to professional activity; focusing members of the pedagogical process on personal interaction and coordinating the roles of interacting persons. Monitoring and diagnostic techniques are suggested for verifying the effectiveness of the model. The paper presents the results of the study of pedagogical interaction and gives recommendations regarding its improvement.
Obra que estudia cómo las nuevas tecnologías de comunicación y las redes sociales que a través de ellas se han generado dan soporte a una nueva forma de establecer relaciones entre las personas y, por lo tanto, de nuevas formas de soledad.
In the last decade or so, technological changes--mainly voice mail and e-mail--have made a lot of face-to-face interaction unnecessary. Face-to-face contact has also fallen victim to "virtuality"--many people work at home or are otherwise off-site. Indeed, most people today can't imagine life without such technology and the freedom it grants. But Edward Hallowell, a noted psychiatrist who has been treating patients with anxiety disorders--many of them business executives--for more than 20 years, warns that we are in danger of losing what he calls the human moment: an authentic psychological encounter that can happen only when two people share the same physical space. And, he believes, we may be about to discover the destructive power of its absence. The author relates stories of business-people who have dealt firsthand with the misunderstandings caused by an overreliance on technology. An e-mail message is misconstrued. Someone forwards a voice-mail message to the wrong people. A person takes offense because he was not included on a certain circulation list. Was it an accident? Often the consequences of such misunderstandings, taken individually, are minor. Over time, however, they take a larger toll--both on individuals and on the organizations they work for. The problem, however, is not insoluble. The author cites examples of people who have worked successfully to restore face-to-face contact in their organizations. The bottom line is that the strategic use of the human moment adds color to our lives and helps us build confidence and trust at work. We ignore it at our peril.
Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture of Politics and Information
  • J Brook
  • I Boal
Brook, J., & Boal, I. (1995). Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture of Politics and Information. San Francisco: City Light.