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Does technology really serve as a key for "better" education?
Education does not necessarily become 'better' in any general sense. The role and function of education changes in the world of digital media. Schools were designed when we lived in a world of little information, and it was the job of schools to present students with such information. Today, the situation is very different. We are overwhelmed by information, and the skills we need to develop have to do with being able to decide what is relevant and not, what is trustworthy and so on. To be successful, schools must focus on the skills which people need as citizens. These are not the same as those of yesterday. Information literacy is much more complex and demanding than traditional textbook literacy.

So what impact do you think digital technology has had?  How has it affected the way we learn?
Digital technology has a range of effects on how we learn, remember and organise information. For instance, digital technology makes it easy to store a multitude of information in a variety of formats. The problem is knowing what information is relevant and useful for different purposes. Thus, we must learn how to organise information and how to navigate the online resources (data bases and such) that we have available to us.

A second manner in which our learning is transformed is that we have access to a wide range of tools to support us, like calculators, word processors or design programs. In various professions we can see how these have transformed daily activities: scanners in hospitals, software for bookkeeping, interactive maps etc. This implies that we know what we know because we interact with technology.

Isn't it even more difficult to learn when we have access to so many information sources? How can education systems prepare students and teachers for these new challenges?
It is perhaps more difficult, but we do not have much of a choice. Society has changed and new kinds of skills are necessary. Schools can foster these by helping children to become information literate, developing a critical and constructive attitude to the information they encounter. In the long run, it should be the mission of governments and policy makers to support the use of information technology in schools and, above all, to help teachers to become information literate.

In conclusion, what are the main issues for researchers in the field of learning with technology and how can networks like Kaleidoscope be of benefit?
Nowadays, researchers in the field of technology face advanced challenges. Keeping up with recent changes in education, they need to develop new learning environments and software that are relevant. Kaleidoscope contributes to these scientific approaches by creating a European platform for developing learning with technology. Within the scope of Kaleidoscope I will have my share in showing how literacy in a digital age is different from literacy as we know it in print culture.

Roger Säljö will contribute a keynote presentation to the Kaleidoscope 2007 Symposium entitled “Technologies and the Transformation of Learning: from Rock Paintings to Digital Tools”. The Symposium will take place November 26 –27 at Hotel InterContinental, Berlin, Germany ( ).

posted by Allison Walker on 10/29/07 09:34:34
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