Is All that Glitters Gold?: Re-Thinking E-Learning and Education Revolutions

Is All that Glitters Gold?: Re-Thinking E-Learning and Education Revolutions

Matthew Piscioneri (Monash University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-074-3.ch024
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Knowledge is only a click away. Technology is a tool. Chalk and talk is an anachronistic and unproductive teaching and learning delivery mode. There is a new generation of “net.gen” “digital natives” who can only learn via information communication technology, thereby requiring an entirely new approach to education. This chapter suggests the persistence of tropes such as these in discourse of technology enhanced learning, particularly at the tertiary level, is noteworthy and invites our critical interest. Taking this analysis of contemporary discourse of technology enhanced learning as a platform; the chapter examines broader issues concerned with the commercialization of tertiary education and the new managerialism in the higher education sector.
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More than a decade ago, Newman and Johnson (1999) argued a similar point. As grand plans for the new wave of “virtual” universities began to crest in the late-1990s, they lamented ‘reducing professional training to the telematic transmission of an organized stock of knowledge is shown to be ultimately incoherent because it ignores the crucial need for implicit understanding and skill’ (Newman & Johnson, 1999, p. 79). And, yet, similar mindsets among policy makers, administrators and teachers continue to be observed across the educational spectrum, from P-12 to tertiary education. Perhaps the fundamental question posed by this discussion is how many information communication technology inspired education revolutions are needed before a more balanced approach is taken to planning for and implementing ICT in our classrooms? For example, in 2008, the newly elected Australian federal government pledged such a revolution:

Australian schools will be better equipped to face the future. The Digital Education Revolution is being rolled out in secondary schools in collaboration with state and territory governments. The Rudd Government's $1.2 billion investment over five years provides an opportunity to transform the way teachers teach and students learn, and to equip our students for the future. (Gillard, 2008, para. 9)

Not all that different from the visionary language of Malaysia’s Smart School program launched in 1997 which reconceptualized the school as a ‘a learning institution that has been systematically reinvented in terms of teaching-learning practices and school management in order to prepare children for the Information Age’ (Smart School Project Team, 1997, p.10). And, very similar in tone to what was foreshadowed in Korea’s 1995 Education Reform Proposal which argued, ‘The ultimate goal of informatization in education is to encourage human creativity that will excel in the new knowledge-based society’ (Korean Government, 2000, p.5).

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