The rhetoric of the role of technology in education spruiked by government bodies and other institutions was clearly demonstrated by Jordan (2011). It provided a similar awakening for me that the research conducted by Marcos, Sanchez and Emilio (2011) into teacher reflections also provided (see previous post). Basically, in both cases, there are a lot of statements made emphatically, authoritatively but with little evidence of research into the effectiveness of the promoted course of action.
The problem is the rate of change in education today, particularly in regards to education. People feel there isn’t enough time to conduct research. It is compounded by the familiarity many people feel towards technology and the absolute horror felt by others. Those who have the knowledge and experience easily dictate how it should all work to those who know little.
However, in my not so humble opinion, some of Jordan’s criticisms are of almost universally accepted truths. For instance, technology is a driver of change. It is evident by the smart phones in people’s pockets and how they use them. Jordan (2011) lists “ICT as driving welcomed change” (p.419) as her first theme in representations of ICT. My issue is with the word ‘welcome’. The language in political rhetoric is more about “opportunities” (p.420) that can be gained with ICT change. The more emotive and persuasive language is found in words such as “vital” (p.420) in regards to how technology should be used for learning. This is not saying it is welcomed.
Of course politicians and educational institutions want to focus on the positives students’ futures. Don’t we teachers want the same? I believe it is fairly obvious that there is potential to harness and transform technology for the good of education so I don’t agree with Jordan’s criticism on these points (p.421). However, the word ‘revolutionise’, to me, is pushing the rhetoric a bit too far.
Overall I don’t object much to the rhetoric used regarding the potential of ICT in education. However, I agree with Jordan’s criticisms of descriptions of students as “digitally savvy” (2011, p.425), a term coined by Mark Prensky, a prolific keynote speaker around the world. He has experienced four years in the classroom, 1968-1971 (Prensky 2013). In the classroom we too often see the shortfalls in students’ ICT knowledge, such as not knowing to use CTRL F to search for a particular term in a screed of text. From my experience, they have a much more narrow experience of technology than I, generally restricted to gaming and social networking.
At my previous school, teachers were constantly marginalised to being facilitators and technology lifted to the role of teacher. Jordan (2011) argued that where students are deemed digitally savvy, “the teacher is relegated to the role of passive mediator, the instrumental means to predetermined ends” (p.428). It is a false depiction.
Popenici (2013) lamented the portrayal of an ideal where students completely self-direct their learning in a blog post that resonated to an extent with the experience I had with my previous school. For instance a ‘Deep Learning Day’ was introduce one day a week for Year 11 to work on whatever they chose, even though teachers were expected to provide work that may not be completed. Students were allowed to consult with teachers but teachers were (originally) not meant to keep them on task or offer unrequested assistance.
Personally, I agree with most of the rhetoric of the politicians but agree with Jordan’s concerns for the way students are depicted as having a technological advantage over teachers. The framing of the use of technology in education needs to more realistic for the opportunities and possibilities to be achieved through recognition of the true support and development required to make it happen.
Jordan, K. 2011. Framing ICT, teachers and learners in Australian school education ICT policy, Australian Educational Researcher, 38:4, pp.47-431, http://www.academia.edu/1964725/Framing_ICT_teachers_and_learners_in_Australian_school_education_ICT_policy
Marcos, J.M., Sanchez, E., and Tillema, H.H. 2011. “Promoting teacher reflection: What is said to be done” Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, 37:1, pp.21-36
Popenici, S. 2013. Devaluation of Teaching and Learning, 10 October, http://popenici.com/2013/10/10/teaching/
Prensky, M. 2013. Marc’s Resume (CV). http://marcprensky.com/marcs-resume-cv/