Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CALL FOR BALANCE IN DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES DEBATE


IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG Pre-Conference Event @ Avalon Learning

For Assistant Professor Mark Pegrum (Kane Illios - in Second Life), an education expert at The University of Western Australia, the ability to ‘attend’ a digital technologies conference in the UK last week from his office in UWA’s Graduate School of Education epitomises all that is good about e-learning.

Author of From Blogs to Bombs: The Future of Digital Technologies in Education (UWA Publishing, 2009), Professor Pegrum’s avatar attended the conference in the virtual world Second Life, where he gave a presentation and engaged in discussion with the audience.

“In education, there are techno-enthusiasts who hold technology in awe and believe it is the whole answer while others fear that technology will destroy centuries of education tradition,” Professor Pegrum said.

“I believe neither is true. Digital technologies are more like a set of tools, just as biros and white-boards are. In the argument about digital technology, people forget that these tools can be used to support different pedagogical approaches. On the positive side, they give teachers the ability to appeal to a wider range of students who have different learning styles.”


Avatars listening to Mark's presentation


Professor Pegrum is assessing current digital technology debates, including the proposed Australian internet filter and concerns about cyber-bullying and web nasties; and the proposed national broadband network and calls for education to enable students to be more creative and innovative.

There are also arguments about computers’ harmful versus beneficial effects on the environment. “While the computing industry is pouring the same amount of carbon into the atmosphere as the airline industry, it is also possible to see digital technologies as ecologically beneficial because you can attend an overseas conference without having to get on a plane.

“We need a sober and balanced approach to all these areas. Only then can we ensure the decisions made on new technology in Australia reflect the interests of all its citizens, not just its politicians and lobbyists.”

2 comments:

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with Professor Pegrum, having had this debate many times before. As an early adopter of many different forms of technology, I am sometimes in awe of what is possible with these tools, but I never lose sight of the fact that they are TOOLS.

    A knife can be used to cut bread or to cut a person. There is no romance or glamour in a tool; it is merely a means to an end. The debates we have about technology mostly fall into the same old categories: ethical and conscientious use of tools.

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