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Emancipatory Technology Enhanced Learning’ bridging whatever technology divides

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Maria Fragkaki


One of the reasons put forth for utilizing Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) is to cope with the so-called ‘digital divide’: computers and networks at schools are supposed to bridge this new social inequality, just like universal literacy from schooling helps to deal with social inequalities in general. In this paper we argue that the ‘digital divide’ constitutes a much subtler social discrimination than the classic economic and class inequalities; it is much more difficult to deal with than straightforward economic or more complex cultural and class inequities. This is clearly reflected in the type of TEL utilization in education, rather than its amount. Unqualified use of computers and networks in schools might sharpen or hide the ‘digital divide’ rather than alleviate it. And this causes a ‘knowledge divide’. Furthermore, when we are talking about the knowledge divide’s impacts upon society we are talking about a ‘social divide’. TEL has a clear social class effect, whether its proponents realize it or not, whether its implementers are consciously aware of the effects or not. Thus, the new literacies may widen social schisms not only because they increase the distance between the haves and the have-nots, just like any other technology. What the new literacies offer may also widen social schisms in qualitative ways. In this paper we give examples of concrete educational practices which, while involving TEL use in schools, may well broaden the ‘digital divide’. We show that more TEL is not always better and that it is easy to pay lip service to high educational curriculum goals when the actual practice of TEL is in fact a disservice. Measuring and assessing the long term social effects of TEL is particularly difficult. We propose, however, a systematic way to observe short term effects from its utilization in schools and present the example of an elementary school in Greece.

Λέξεις κλειδιά

Emancipatory Technology Enhanced Learning; digital divide; social divide; knowledge divide

Πλήρες Κείμενο:

PDF (English)

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12681/icodl.533

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