Are ICT investments in schools an education revolution or fool’s errand?
From the time of Plato, educators have struggled with the acquisition of knowledge, seeking it to be understood by the learner versus just assimilated as dogma. And since Plato’s time, educational technology – from the written word to the printed book to the chalkboard – has been hailed as the solution to this challenge. Each successive technology had impact, though often not the type or scale that the introducer hoped.
Now we come to the digital age, where electronic information and communication technologies (ICT) are the newest promise to empower learners to understand and interact with society. Radio, TV, and now computers and the Internet are profoundly changing civilization, as we know it. Can they have the same impact on education?
Will investments in ICT create a revolution in education, as The Children’s Machine predicts, where the learner is central and knowledge is created and understood with guidance from fellow learners and adult facilitators? Or is ICT in education really a fools’ errand, yet another fad that will waste resources, create Flickering Minds, and leave educational systems no better than before?
This month’s Educational Technology Debate on ICT investment in schools and education will feature the following five discussants giving their regarded opinion on this issue:
- Kentaro Toyama a researcher in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley and previously assistant managing director of Microsoft Research India. He was recently featured in the “Can Technology End Poverty?” debate, the impetus for this month’s ETD.
- Claudia Urrea, a visiting research scientist at the MIT – Media Lab. Her PhD thesis focuses on the creation of new learning environments for the digital era and she collaborates with OLPC in the worldwide deployment of revolutionary learning tools to children in the developing world.
- Lowell Monke is assistant professor of Education at Wittenberg University. He researches and writes on the social and psychological impact of high technology on children’s development, including, Breaking Down the Digital Walls.
- Cristobal Cobo is a research fellow at Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, and a coordinator of a collective project on informal, non-formal and invisible learning as noted in the TEDx talk: Invisible learning: How to learn beyond the school?
- Larry Cuban, a former high school social studies teacher, district superintendent, and university professor. He is also a prodigious author on education and the role of technology, including Oversold and Underused, a critical look at the actual use of computers by teachers and students in education.
- Rob van Son, a linguistics expert with a focus on speech technology and elearning for the Netherlands Cancer Institute and the University of Amsterdam. He was a member of the team that developed the SpeakGoodChinese CALL application, and is a regular contributor to the Educational Technology Debate.
Please join us for what we all expect to be a lively and informative conversation exploring the impact of ICT on educational systems around the world. Your input can start right now in the comments below, and opening remarks will follow shortly.