A discussion on the promises and challenges of technology for educational change

The last blog post stirred some good conversations and feedback from scholars and friends from Australia and abroad. Grateful for their feedback and opinions, I had the idea to record one of these conversations. Therefore, Mr. Tom Kerr posted some questions in a recorded interview and you are invited to see it here and send your opinions and reflections.

One point of justified criticism is that I fail to offer here on my random posts clues on the alternatives, solutions for our challenges in education. In my defense, I have to mention that I work – too slow – on a new book, focused on imagination, creativity and possible solutions for educational change. In a first attempt to address this problem I have to briefly describe what I consider as first two prerequisites for positive and genuine change in education:

  • It is crucial to have an honest and open debate about the pedagogical advantages of new technologies in education.

Although this seems a truism, lobbying activities disguised as care for students’ learning and engagement, well-being of institutions and teaching staff, constitute already a living part of the unchallenged existence of academia. Tech firms promote often clunky, educationally useless or illusory products (see online solutions for plagiarism) for significant profits. This interested intrusion and well-funded influence stifle a genuine debate about the real advantages, traps, dangers, advantages and – ultimately – students’ interests. The pedagogical value of ICT solutions have to be discussed beyond the naive enthusiasm for fancy educational electronics. If we accept arguments like that educational technology is saving money, with the latest example of iPads replacing textbooks as a more economical solution… then we do not only ignore the real costs involved by these changes, the fast pace of change in technology, but – most important – a consistent body of research on learning and pedagogical solutions. It is important to have a wider, more diverse, consistent and courageous debate on what is genuine and positive change and innovation in education.

  • A real change in education requires imagination, innovation, creativity and interdisciplinary research as a vital component of thinking about learning and teaching in 21st century.

Imagine a discussion about the use of new technologies in education where moral philosophers, specialists in technology, scholars specialized in education, engineers and university administrators, teachers and researchers can openly debate various aspects involved in the practice of learning and teaching. Even more, imagine in this mix of teaching, innovation and research the perspective of rethinking education looking at the aims, not various (technological) tools, taking democratic citizenship, reasoning, nurturing imagination, curiosity, critical thinking, creativity and the thirst for knowledge, as paramount aims, not only as political statements designed to mask a neoliberal agenda guided only by immediate profit. Thinking about these possibilities may be more important for the future than it seems now and I argue that these perspectives deserve more consideration if we think about change and “disruptive innovation” in education.

  1. Thank you for reblog!