Activities Examining the Complex Effects of Technology

While there are many movements encouraging teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms, as well as STEM/STEAM initiatives aimed at increasing students’ technological skills, there have been few initiatives or curricula aimed at helping students pursue a technology education that delves into the varied effects of technology through ecological and critical lenses.

The Civics of Technology Project shares research and curriculum that encourages teachers and students to critically inquire into the effects of technology on our individual and collective lives. On the project’s website, teachers will find the “Technoskeptical Iceberg,” a guiding framework that they can use to plan, or reflect on, how they teach about technology and make sure that their curriculum is well rounded in its approach.

The iceberg framework consists of three dimensions that can be explored at different levels of depth: The technical dimension includes how technologies are made and how they function. The psychosocial dimension focuses on how technology affects the way humans think and interact as individuals and communities. And the political dimension concerns who makes (and ought to make) decisions about technologies, from individuals to companies to lawmakers.

Teachers will also find Critical Questions About Technology that they can use to encourage students to think about technologies as parts of systems with complex and collateral effects—for example: What does society give up for the benefits of technology? Why is it difficult to imagine our world without technology? The questions are available online and in a freely downloadable handout.

In addition, teachers can view at a glance the free lessons and activities in the Civics of Technology Project’s educational technology curriculum. One of the activities is a Technology Reset Simulation that transports students to the year 2050 where human problems related to weather disasters, racism, inequality, oppression, and misinformation have only intensified. Alien Technoids arrive on Planet Earth to point out that a common villain across these problems is technology. Students join a special taskforce to recommend changes to give humanity a new start.

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