The Potential of Technology in Education
According to Brown and Adler (2008) a profound impact of the Internet is its ability to support and extend the various aspects of social learning. This means that understanding of content is influenced not just by whatis learned, but also by how it is learned. Tools such as blogs, wikis, social networks, tagging systems, mashups, and content-sharing sites are examples of a new infrastructure that focuses on conversation, participation and action-based learning. Siemens and Tittenberger (2009) take this argument further by suggesting that Web 2.0 technologies could be instrumental in moving away from traditional hierarchical models of education that are structured around a defined body of knowledge and broadcast to learners in a controlled manner, and towards a networked approach which is more adaptive to the needs of modern learners. Communication could be facilitated through the use of wikis, blogs, and global communities of expertise, while the relative value of diverse sources of information is assessed through social bookmarking tools such as Digg or Del.icio.us. In this environment, the role of the tutor changes or can even disappear altogether. Students are moved from a learning environment controlled by the tutor and the institution, to one where they direct their own learning according to personal interests, find their own information and create knowledge by engaging in relevant networks of expertise that could be physically located anywhere in the world.
From a tutor’s perspective, such a learning environment sounds ideal, but to what extent is this scenario actually played out in practice? Despite the undisputable potential of ICT in and for education, the links between pedagogy and technology, and indeed accompanying ethical issues remain unclear, especially in the light of societal, cultural and technological change McRobb, Jefferies, and Stahl (2007).