Week 2 Videos: two video advertisements #edcmooc

The first two marketing videos present a utopian future with technology fully integrated into our lives, at home, at work and in education. However, two major issues stand out for me which shatter the utopian dream. Firstly, cost – cost of the products and cost to the environment. In these financially difficult times for the majority of countries, schools and public bodies have great strain on their budgets and even if they were able to find the money for the initial outlay for all the hardware and software it is highly unlikely that they will be able to provide support (infrastructure, bandwidth), maintenance, 3D printer materials and training.

The latter brings me to my second issue, staff training. In both videos the educators are highly skilled and confident in using the products but from the many articles I have read over the years much of the hardware and software is gathering dust as teachers do not have the confidence or knowledge to incorporate it into their teaching (a quick Google search reveals many articles and opinions: http://www.educationrethink.com/2012/07/11-reasons-teachers-arent-using.html, http://edcetera.rafter.com/why-arent-teachers-using-more-technology-in-the-classroom/ , http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2013/06/idaho_researchers_teachers_don.html , http://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/training-key-to-embedding-technology-enhanced-learning-08-sep-2008 )

Apart from these practical problems from an educational perspective is the problem of style over pedagogy. One of the course questions posed is: how is education being visualised here? what is being learned and taught? To my mind education is portrayed as highly shiny and very pretty but ultimately superficial. I was quite unclear as to what was being taught in A Day Made of Glass 2, students finding online photographs which matched their chosen colour, the lights being dimmed, words floating around in circles on the board and simultaneously on their tablets. In Bridging our Future the topic is clearer but seemed to involve a significant amount of self-directed learning by very capable looking students. Also would engineers be available as and when a student called them for a web video call? What would the classroom sound like if all students started web calls simultaneously? Technology enhanced learning surely has to actually enhance the learning.

After I had watched the videos I found a tweet to an article which summed up what I wanted to get across about the modern trend to ‘consume’ rather than create, watching videos, reading tweets, being up to date in social network sites.  In the article, Russ Shaw reiterates that our curriculum needs to change (here in the UK) not the technology to truly prepare students for the future and the workplace. Currently, the focus is all on using software to produce presentations, use spreadsheets and copy and paste content from the internet whilst ignoring programming languages, multimedia creation and many other IT skills required to contribute to the economy. We need to focus on enhancing education not just on the ability to change the colour of a car dashboard remotely.

So in conclusion the utopian viewpoint of the first videos can only be brought to fruition with the involvement of people. People are the educators, technology a method of delivering learning, albeit a potentially powerful one given the correct circumstances.

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