When we speak about the impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on Education, there are two main approaches that we can follow.
The micro-level approach deals with the impact of ICTs on learning processes and/or the different components of a learning process. The point in the micro-level approach is to tell what the impact will be on how things work and howshould or will they change. The micro-level is about evolutions.
The macro-level approach puts the stress on the system and its foundations. The point in the macro-level approach is to tell what the impact will be on what things work into that system and why. and which will be the new foundations upon to which build a new system. The macro-level is about revolutions.
See, for instance, the following examples, picked at random and with no aim of comprehensiveness:
|Teacher||How can the teacher use an interactive whiteboard to support lecturing?||
What is the role of the teacher? A mentor? An instructional designer?
|Student||What is the use of laptops when attending classes or doing homework?||What is a student? Does the dychotomy student-worker still apply?
Will ICTs empower people so that they can master their own learning processes?
|Textbook||What will be the e-book like? Can it be interactive? Searchable?|| Is there any need for a textbook?
How can we turn any information resorce into a learning resource?
Who should design learning resources? What is the role of publishers in this (new) scenario (if any)?
|Classroom||Can we use (or ban) wi-fi in the classroom? For what purposes?||Will meeting physical spaces become irrelevant in a no-time- and no-space-boundaries digital environment?
What is the added value of physical gatherings?
Is there a reason to keep thinking in terms of classmates and cohorts?
|Assessment||What is the best way to apply self-correcting surveys for assessment?||Do we need assessment or certification?
Is peer-to-peer assessment possible?
Can we redefine reputation and authority in an open Knowledge Society?
|Syllabus||Should the syllabus self-adapt according to performance of the student?||Just-in-case or just-in-time learning?
Can we unstructure learning?
Both approaches are worth being followed. Most times, there will be no revolution without a well paced set of little evolutions (contradictory as this may sound), and evolutions may eventually lead to sheer revolution when all added up. But. But when a revolution is — a digital revolution, as it now seems to be — clearly coming up in the horizon, time is of the essence: the debates on the evolutions that might be should give way to the debates on the revolutions that may or very likely will be.
Two reflections or corollaries arise from the former statement.
- The first one is that we have to be able to tell evolutions from revolutions. Statement the like of
tablets — or laptops or interactive whiteboards or e-books or iBooks or you-name-it — are going to revolutionize Educationare very likely to be either misleading or plain wrong. At least in the way they are usually stated or framed. All the aforementioned examples-in-the-classroom belong to the world if evolution, of innovation: they improve or even radically change the way we do some things, but not things themselves. In other words, tablets may revolutionize lecturing and, as such, make a huge contribution to the evolution of Education. But not revolutionize education.
- The second one is that if a revolution in Education is about to come — as many people see sings of it, and even work towards it — we certainly should put the focus on systemic changes and not in changes within the system. In other words, we should analyse how evolutions relate to or can contribute to a deep revolution, instead of focusing on evolutions themselves.
It is just normal that, as educators, we feel the urge to deal with the present, with solving the impact of ICTs in our daily lives inside our classrooms. But I believe we should put more effort in looking ahead in the future, in making our evolutions shift towards the path of the systemic change and not in parallel or diverting from it.
During the III European Conference on Information Technology in Education and Society: A Critical Insight (TIES2012) I felt like there was much concern on the micro vision of ICTs in education and just a little bit on the macro side of things. And I sometimes wondered whether that was thinking on your pedicure before having your leg amputated — and, by the way, not having a plan for the upcoming haemorrhage.
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2012) “From micro-evolutions to macro-revolutions: ICTs in Education” In ICTlogy,
#101, February 2012. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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