Introduction: (Critical) history of ICT in education - and where we are heading? The use of computers in education is much more a series of failures than success stories. I agree with Erik Duval that in general, in a large scale the impact of technology on the way people learn have been minimal. In open distant learning and military training (simulations) there are examples of success, but these models do not fit very well to school and university context. So, I wouldn’t call them “good examples”. It can be claimed that from the learning perspective the only proof-of-concept cases of using computers in the school and university environments for learning, are the small-scale experiments with CSCL (Computer-supported Collaborative Learning) tools such as the classical CSILE (and Knowledge Forum), Belvedere and later the experiments made with web-based social software tools, such as Fle3 and blogs. Why is the impact of technology on the way we learn so marginal, even though millions of dollars and Euros have been spent on to develop educational computer technology? Could it be that there has been some principle conceptual bias and all the minor changes made in to it do not help much, as the principle is wrong? With an analogy: if you are sailing somewhere in equator and take a course by mistake to south, even that you should go north, it does not help much if you every year fix your course 5 degrees. You will still end-up to Antarctica. Let’s try to make a critical analyse of the history of ICT in learning. How the history will look if we try to pull down the mental models and educational thinking behind the promises of different times?
I see four major phases in the history of using computers in education. The fifth: the era of social software and free and open content is still to come – I hope. The phases are: Late 1970’s - early 1980’s: programming, drill and practice; Late 1980’s - early 1990’s: computer based training (CBT) with multimedia; Early 1990’s: Internet-based training (IBT);
Late 1990’s - early 2000: e-Learning;
Late 2000: Social software + free and open content.
From the history of media we know that new forms never replace the old one. TV didn’t kill radio and Internet didn’t kill TV. New forms of media rather complement the old once, but do not countervail them. This naturally leads to greater choice for people, but also causes fragmentation. Different media devices and formats also get mixed with each other and this way generates new forms that contain features from each of them. iPod is a good example of this. It is a kind of walkman of Internet era that can be used to have personalized radio shows (podcasting). As noticed by Pauliina Seppälä this seems to be the case with sub-cultures, as well. New forms of sub-cultures, such as youth cultures, are often considered to be some kind of fashion that come and go, but actually all the old forms seems to stay with us. We still have mods, punk rockers, pot- and acid heads with us, although we may consider them to be rather passé. They also mix to each other and formulate new forms of sub-cultures. I think this is the case with educational technology, as well. All the old paradigms live with the new once and get mixed to each other. The old models just never disappeared but are present in a form or another in the new paradigms. The old paradigms seem to get fashionable once in a while, too. For this reason we should not be surprised if many people are excited about the drill and practice exercises and quizzes online: they still live in our minds because we want to believe that the paradigm is right. Let’s have a closer look on the phases in the history of computers in education. Late 1970’s - early 1980’s: programming, drill and practice This is the era when I got into computers in my own school. It was in the early years of 1980’s and our math teacher was teaching also the new school subject called in Finnish “ATK”. The abbreviation stand for...
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