Monday, March 30, 2009

Technology problems, or social problems...

Out running on Friday, I was totally absorbed by what Morris W. Beverage Jr. had to say (Educause podcast). He started from a point around technology which actually switched me off to begin with, describing technology as 'things' communicating with 'things' rather than, apparently, seeing the key focus as the communication and co-construction of artefacts/knowledge that is enabled through technology.

Anyhow, once I had stopped bristling and listened to what he went on to say, a lot of it seemed to make sense. One point in particular where he spoke about issues in education (for example, plagiarism) are not technology problems, but rather social problems. It make such a lot of sense. Yes, technology such as Turnitin may be developed to attempt to address the problem, but in fact what it needs is a recognition of the reasons behind the plagiarism, which tend to be academic literacy challenges and questions around ethics.

Well worth listening to this podcast as it is likely to strike a few chords no matter what your role is in, or supporting, education.

The Educause blurb is: "Campuses today face a growing number of clashing cultures. Faculty struggle with traditional methods of teaching in an environment where demands for flexibility and convenience are rising. Learners increasingly treat a college degree like a commodity. Battles rage over resource allocation. External constituents exert influence on campus operations and outcomes. This session addresses these issues and the role IT departments need to play to help higher education not just survive, but thrive."

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