Education for Liberation: A Transformative Polymorphic Model for ICT Integration in Education

Education for Liberation: A Transformative Polymorphic Model for ICT Integration in Education

M. Fragaki (National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece) and A. Lionarakis (Hellenic Open University, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-046-4.ch011


This particular proposal presents a Transformative Polymorphic Model for training, researching and teaching, a learning community of educators, which involves the integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into the educational practice. It refers to ideas of justice, applied to an entire online society, based on not only giving digital individuals and groups’ fair action, but also sharing the benefits of free online society. It promotes transformative learning by way of emancipator education that fosters the human rights and equity that manifest in the everyday digital lives of people, from every level of online society. It consists in a learning environment that facilitates development of higher order cognitive abilities and it promotes a critical community of learners, where both reflection and discourse facilitate the construction of personally meaningful and socially valid knowledge and guides decision and action.
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The revival of democracy calls for the revival of the concept of citizenship;

the revival of the concept of citizenship requires the revival of solidarity and responsibility,

in other words the development of anthropo-ethics-(Edgar Morin, UNESCO 1999)

Distance education has the potential to adopt cutting-edge technologies in order to bring together learners, e-facilitators/tutors and e-content. Yet there is much deliberation about how we can infuse this form of distance learning with a socio-political and ethical dimension, so that it may address the social needs of online participants, embracing diverse races, genders, ethnicities, religions, languages, sizes, cultural and social backgrounds, whereas liberation is only a theoretical viewpoint. The Online Distance Education dynamic itself, seems to diminish when it creates a chasm between an arcane, highly specialized techno-science and citizens that leads to a new social antithesis between a “new class” and the citizens. In this way, citizens are expelled from the political arena, which increasingly becomes the property of “specialists” and where the supremacy of the “new class” actually prevents the democratization of knowledge. The status of the citizen deteriorates and democratic life wanes.

Consequently, the potential of incorporating Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the educational process, through Online Distance Education, should not be restricted to bringing together learners, tutors and e-content, but must contribute to a new ethic, whereby with the aid of people and communities, they are reformed and perhaps new human values will emerge as a collective conscience and solidarity for all mankind. It is deemed necessary that ICTs be integrated into the educational process, where technology will not replace the social aspect of learning and thus entrench the technocratic and purely instrumental perception of new technologies in the educational process and practice, but by virtue of its dynamic, it will be conducive to the socio-political dynamic and ethical dimension of Education for a Sustainable Future. The challenge is to turn e-information into human knowledge. This is not a technological problem but a social challenge that requires an educational solution.

The present paper aims to present a Transformative Polymorphic Model for training, research and teaching, the major objective being the integration of ICTs in the educational practice with an “emancipatory cognitive interest” and the promotion of a qualitative education for liberation. Initially, broad definitions and discussions, found in reviewing the bibliography, are formulated with respect to integrating ICT in the educational process, in Distance Education and in Online Learning Communities. In continuation, epistemological, theoretical and pedagogical issues are presented, concerning the design and development of the model, and an analysis of its various forms and elements follows. Subsequently, the authors pose questions and make recommendations in relation to the integration of ICT in the educational practice, within the framework of an Online Education for Liberation and recommendations are given for further research on this issue.



Integration of ICTs in Education

Conceptual Definitions

According to the European Commission Report in 2000 to the Council and the European Parliament (EC Report 1996), “….the modes of communication, information exchange and work are constantly changing, the way in which individuals create, gather, store and transmit information is changing”. The scientific advances that occur in every field and which find applications in our daily lives create a new environment, on an international scale, a new society, the Information Society (InfoSoc). Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are part of this society, and they have brought about radical changes in all sectors of modern society and human activity (Raptis & Rapti, 2006:16).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Polymorphic Distance Education: Indicates qualitative education that functions in accordance to learning and teaching principles, in the context of physical distance (Lionarakis 1998).

Emancipatory Cognitive Interest: Epistemologically, it belongs to the Critical-Dialectic Paradigm and it extends the concept of “understanding” a situation, to forming a “critical consciousness” and to “action” aiming at social change. It aspires to social transformation with a long-term prospect.

Reflective-Critical Professional Development and Training Model: Focuses on the ethical and political dimension of education, it highlights, by means of reflective-critical analysis, the dilemmatic aspect of educational situations and it seeks the principles and inferences of the alternative teaching options.

Online Learning Community: A Learning Community based on ICT and on the Internet. It comprises a number of cultural elements that emerge when an adequate number of people interact frequently enough in cyberspace (Rheingold 1992, 1993). It is defined as an insistent, continual social network of individuals who share and develop a Knowledge Base, a set of convictions, values, a history and experience that follow a common practice and/or a mutual endeavour (Barab & Schatz 2001).

Online Education for Liberation: Is an online form of education, which is conducted at a distance and promotes liberation.

Emancipator Education for a Sustainable Future: Is a form of education that interlinks the social and pedagogical realities and liberating language, with critical science and educational practice. Its primary goal is the promotion of values and moral principles, which bear a significant impact, through education, on the way individuals live and behave. It aims to make the individual reflect in a critical manner.

Information and Communication Technologies: Are defined as the combination of Information Technology with other interrelated technologies and in particular with that of communication (UNESCO 2002a).

Transformative Polymorphic Model: Is a reflective-critical distance training and education research model, that functions according to emancipatory teaching and learning principles with an Online Learning Community.

Cognitive Interests: These refer to Habermas’ (1972) Theory of Cognitive Interests, according to which the knowledge that people produce, is determined by the cognitive interest that motivates them. The three fundamental interests are: the technical, the practical and the emancipatory.

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