Technological Determinism and the growing world of Virtual Education

The selected communications theory I have chosen to examine in order to explain the topic of Virtual education and course management tools to my readers is Technological Determinism. For those who aren’t fully aware of how this selected theory works I am going to give you a run through of the selected theory and make it understandable. This will pave the way for our future discussions about virtual education and course management tools such as Blackboard, Moddle and Sakai that are used at Universities around the U.S.

The overall idea of Technological Determinism is that technology drives social change. To give you a simple idea of Technological Determinism we can start to think about the way smart phones has begun to control our society. I know we can all agree that the idea of smart phones at the dinner table or outings with friends has become sort of an annoyance in our society today, but somehow something that cannot be avoided. We can also agree that younger generations have also let these smart phones have some control over their life and have this desire to be constantly connected.  The infection of needing to be connected to others virtually has become an uprising in the last 10 years with the rise of smart phones. They lead us to have constant access to our friends through texting and social media, we know find ourselves more interested in posting our “selfie” on Instagram then being in the moment and enjoying the ones around us. The most famous technological determinist, Marshall McLuhan expressed his concern with technology by arguing that “in society’s zeal to conquer technology, we might progress in technology, but we would regress as a culture. Whereas technology could extend human capabilities in one way, it would cut off others.” This quote makes perfect sense when referring to virtual education as we will see throughout the blog.

Tying the theory of Technological Determinism to virtual education is just as easy as connecting the theory to the use of smart phones and the impact they have on our society. We see virtual education and course management skills driving our society in obvious ways. For some this information may be irrelevant because they do not take place in the online education community but they can take a quick look at their kids, grandkids, peers, coworkers and so on and realize just how prominent the rise of virtual education is and how it is shifting the way we learn.

Straubhaar, J., LaRose, R., & Davenport. (2014). Media now: Understanding media culture and technology (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.


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