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Working for the "computer" or making the "computer" work for us?

Posted By: Dick Schutz on February 29, 2008
Bugeja joins those who view "technology" in education as a "device, application or platform." This view does foster the kinds of pitfalls he sketches. But this is a backwater view of "technology." In other sectors "technology" is viewed as "how to" and such "technologies" are developed through systematic design and iterative empirical testing. They don't rely on making a "device, application or platform" work.

Broadband transmission technology provides a means to bring "any" combination of visual and/or auditory "experience" to a student or group of students. That's exactly what any "capable instructor" does. And the "computer" can draw on and manipulate many more experiences than the an instructor can hope to do.

Interactive voice recognition technology enables the controlled interaction of "computer" and student(s) that a "capable instructor" desires in "discussion" and "testing." The technology is still rather primitive, but is developing rapidly.

The "forum" and "collaborative work group" technologles provide the basis for "learning communities" that instructors often dream of, but very rarely establish.

These and other technologies will almost certainly affect prevailing educational practices. "Lectures" have long been recognized as feeble instructional protocols. And the construct of "classroom" per se will change.
There is an upside as well as a downside to Ellul's point. And few people other than university profs who promote "change" for everyone except themselves will shed any tears when these and other educational parameters morph into different forms.

The 10 questions with which Bugeja concludes his essay strike me as very apt and productive. Answers to those questions will help avoid the pitfalls. But it seems to me that a proactive culture in education that emulates the methodology that has yielded technologies in other sectors will be necessary to take education, (likely kicking and screaming) into the digital electronic age.

Dick Schutz
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 Working for the "computer" or making the "computer" work for us? by Dick Schutz on February 29, 2008
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