Monday, 21 January 2008

Economist Education Debates

Just picked this up off the TK-newswire {man alive, TK is a fount of Web2.0 knowledge and is in the wrong job...}: The Economist Debate Series: Education

The third debate is running now on: "Social Networking: does it bring positive change to education?" There are bits of the propositions that I like, in particular on the Pro side, I like the propositions about Bebo-boomers and what they will think of their kids' educational experiences:
  • "It's more about helping learners become more world-aware, more communicative, learning from each other, understanding first hand what makes the world go around"
  • "ubiquitous social technologies help us connect to those who can help us learn when we're outside the domain of formal education"
  • "The web turned sixteen last year, just as another generation of sixteen year olds left school with more knowledge of the web from outside formal education than from within it... Educational methods could continue on their merry, Victorian way, but that's unlikely to engage today's learners, and it's impossible to envisage tomorrow’s parents, the Bebo Boomers, accepting the 9am-4pm, timetabled, do the exams you're told to when you're told to, inflexibility of the 20th Century school"
On the Con, side there is an interesting line taken that "Technology has made us compliant."
  • "Facebook or MySpace are programmed for revenue generation, especially the vending of marketing data and the advertising base that can be established because of that data. To do so, those networks rely on technology developed by military (to surveil) and industry (to sell)"
  • "technology altered education in every conceivable facet. I have seen it used as delivery system, then as content in the classroom and finally as classroom, building and campus itself, and in every case, pedagogy changed to accommodate the interface. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Unless we impose that logic on social networks, they will align educational methods with corporate motive"
  • "What is the motive programmed in the interface, template or application involving use of social networks, and how can we adjust for that in the classroom, online or in-world? What are the risks—privacy invasion, online harassment, restrictive service terms, etc.—that might trigger controversy or code violations within the academic system?"
This debate, on the whole, drags us, kicking and screaming to face the educational realities of social networking tools and cultures. How do we align the possible (the affordances of connectivity) and the pragmatic (the uptake curve), with the clear, non-educational design and motive?

Critically, as the Cons would have it "How are technologies and pedagogies to be aligned?"

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