Technology Consumer or Technology User?

A student makes use of his iPad to access his email and to view the internet.  He uses it to access his social media accounts and to post updates.    He uses productivity apps to take notes in lessons and to create pieces of coursework which he then sends via email or shares via a cloud storage solution with his teachers.   You might describe the above as the student as a consumer use of technology.  Its consumer electronics much in the same way that we consume TV sets or satellite/cable boxes.   We purchase them, use them and replace them all for specific purposes.

Now lets consider the same student however this time before accessing his email he considers the security of his email account and the strength of his password.   He considers if email is the best method of communicating given its lack of security.      When looking at his social media accounts he considers the long term implications of posting comments.    He considers how the information might be used by for potentially malicious purposes and he considers his current privacy settings.      He considers how his posting could be combined with other data to form big data and the implications in relation to the use of this data for profiling.    He considers the security of the device he is creating documents on, including if encryption is enabled and also the strength of his passcode.    He considers how he shares his documents in terms of whether they are accessible by public URL link or just accessible via logged in users.     This student is a user of technology, in that he considers the implications of use.   He doesn’t just consume.

Are your students consumers or users?

Do you agree with the suggested distinction between consumers and users?   Maybe you would use a different term; digitally literate?

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the Middle East. In addition Gary is a Google and Microsoft Certified Educator.

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