July 17, 2024

Technology mediated society

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Photo source: Lyncconf Games on Flickr

The rapid spread of the Coronavirus and the subsequent social lock-downs by many governments has meant that technology has been thrust to the forefront in many of our daily human activities. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we are being bombarded by emails from self-appointed experts in working from home and distance learning, all offering us their unwanted and unsolicited advice and support. The fact that many of us have been doing these things quite successfully for many years tells us something about the so-called experts’ market research skills and a lot more about their credentials. Notwithstanding, many sudden changes have been forced upon us all, and the ‘online pivot’ has become the latest dance craze for the whole of the industrialised world. Our choreography is based on social distancing and the need to continue our routines. We have become a technology-mediated society almost overnight.

Across our nation, church buildings are closed, gatherings are banned, and people are now doing worship online. This might normally be music to the ears of yer regular humanist, but such gloating would be premature. Any Christian will tell you that the church was never the building – it was always the people.  The buildings may be closed, but church goes on, just in another format. Podcasts, videos and online texts of sermons, worship music and prayers are growing on the web as rapidly as the Covid-19 infection is spreading. And the church – the people – are flocking to the discussion pages to participate (see what I did there?)

Working from home has quickly become the norm. The commute the the office may now only be a few steps, but some people are still dressing the part (which is great to see). Adapting to online and remote working may be a chore for some, but in many cases, necessity is the mother of invention. Many remote/home workers are developing novel approaches to staying connected with their teams. Zoom and Facetime, and of course Skype, have never been so heavily press-ganged into use as they are today. It all depends on how you look at this crisis, but it is highly possible that for some, working may never be the same again.

With most sports now closed down and matches across the globe cancelled or postponed indefinitely, sports people have to do something to maintain their fitness and keep themselves occupied during the lockdown. A number of high profile sports people are recording fitness and wellbeing videos and sharing them online to communicate with their armies of fans. Some are incredibly high value and very useful for the army of people who are now confined to their homes. The stand out offering is the Joe Wicks video which purports to offer PE education to children everywhere. 

The Arts
Actors and other performers are doing similar work, recording themselves reading classics, bedtime stories for children, acting out scenes and monologues, and just about anything else that can be lent a thespian spin. Musicians who have been used to performing in large arenas for tens of thousands are now recording their work in their living rooms for an audience of … well, tens of thousands. Life may be on hold, but the arts are thriving even so.

The number of education institutes suddenly scrambling to adopt online learning would be comical if it wasn’t against such a serious, tragic background. For years, many academics and teachers have been ignoring or naysaying technology, claiming it is an unwanted distraction or a poor addition to traditional teaching. Some even banned technology from their classrooms because it was ‘too dangerous’ or undermined their approach to pedagogy. Well, now many have no access to their classrooms, and their students are at home. It’s hard to say when schools, colleges and universities will reopen. What do the technophobe teachers do now to ensure their students continue to learn? They are compelled to turn to the very technologies that they had previously scorned.

It’s a funny old world isn’t it?

Creative Commons License
Technology mediated society by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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