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
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 (http://www.noe-kaleidoscope.org/group/symposium/ ).