Thursday, March 3, 2022

Digital vulnerability

In the midst of a brutal war in Europe it is very hard to write about educational technology. However, one slightly relevant theme that is emerging is how vulnerable we are today due to our embrace of everything digital. Society has simply taken digital accessibility for granted and become totally dependent on it. Here in Sweden it is virtually impossible to lead a normal life without a smartphone and internet access. Cash has become almost useless and many shops and even banks refuse to accept it. You need to download apps for just about everything - shopping, parking your car, using public transport, booking accommodation, financial transactions etc. 

I read in the paper (yes I still read printed newspapers every day) that sales of survival equipment (water canisters, dried and tinned food, camping stoves) have suddenly soared due to the war and the realisation that it could happen here. There's also a marked increase in the use of cash machines (previously deemed obsolete) with the realisation that a cyber attack would render all our apps and plastic cards useless. Another curious detail is a sharp rise in the sales of basic FM/AM radios, especially those that can run without batteries by winding a handle. I also noted that the BBC is setting up shortwave frequencies to broadcast news to Ukraine if internet access is cut. Luckily video did not quite kill the radio star.

Future trends in education? How about survival skills? I don't mean survival courses in the wilderness (though it might be a good idea too) but being able to use both the digital tools and devices as well as their non-digital counterparts. Can you find your way without GPS and Google? Can you make calculations or write notes on paper? I've seen reports of interesting projects about offering digital educational resources to remote areas without internet or even electricity using solar powered servers with stored resources that can then be shared with devices in a basic wifi network (see earlier post). Many countries have used radio to broadcast school lessons to remote and vulnerable communities during the pandemic (as reported earlier on this blog). In an increasingly volatile and unpredictable world we all need to develop plans B, C and D. 

Digitalisation has benefitted us all but we must be very careful about digitalising everything just because we can. We need to maintain alternatives even it may be costly because one day the digital infrastructure could go down.

No comments:

Post a Comment