Sherry Turkle, professor of social studies of science and technology at MIT, argues against a technologically integrated classroom and cautions against the widespread use of digital technologies in the service of learning, asserting that these technologies lead to unimaginative (if efficient) multitasking. Turkle argues that “unitasking,” focusing on one topic at a time, allows for a deep engagement with curriculum content and peers, which is necessary to a quality education. In addition to degrading the in-class experience by constant checking of mobile devices, Turkle argues, outside of class students use tools like GChat and Google Docs to complete their assignments, avoiding in-person collaboration. Further, they miss the “serendipity” of spontaneous ideas that occur when people talk in person (but not digitally?).
“[A tool like GChat] doesn’t leave room for what I want my students to experience when they collaborate. I call it intellectual serendipity. It may happen when someone tells a story or a joke. Or when someone daydreams and comes back with an idea that goes in a new direction. None of this is necessarily efficient. But so many of our best ideas are born this way, in conversations that take a turn.”