[iDC] learning ecologies

elana langer elana.langer at gmail.com
Fri Apr 9 19:57:47 UTC 2010

Television, a medium that was once declared the most powerful
contribution to the learning environment, provided a perfect analogy
for the tension in
the current educational paradigm. From the medium’s inception
Educational Television (ETV) faced the insurmountable
challenge of trying to compete within the economic structures of
commercial television. Even when a show like Sesame Street was able to
achieve commercial
success, the medium itself fell prey to the critique of theorists like
Postman and Winn, claiming that television had a limited learning
potential. In fact the enthusiasm for computers today is
indistinguishable from the pamphlets encouraging the use of television
from the 1950’s. Yet as technologies like computers continue to gain
support within the educational arena, the context for learning often
remains the same.

Critics of technologies that range from radio to computers focus on
analyzing the educational potential and uses of emerging technologies
and not enough time focusing on the educational processes into which
these technologies are embedded. As a result, the media produced be it
filmstrip or CD-ROM reflect the limits of the educational philosophies
rather than the limitations of the technology itself.

Julian Daily and Michael F C Moreland are both using opportunities
afforded through new technologies to expand the learning process and
create collaborative learning environments - But can the system expand
and accommodate their efforts? Julian, through his company g8four is
creating new models of constructivist learning environments enabled
through personal computing. His team have worked both in and outside
the classroom has experience both in and outside of the classroom
innovating uses for the XO laptop.

Michael F C Moreland created seedr l3c, a company designing tools and
strategies for global development that make communities around the
world safer and more prosperous. He uses technology and a
collaborative design methodology that includes end users and
stakeholders from different disciplines and sectors to make the
solutions more informed and relevant.

What systems of bureaucracy need to be in place to make each company
and effort possible? Do those systems hinder the growth of the model
being proposed? Have we totally outgrown our system? If so- what's

Could an acceptance and subsequent reexamination of our inherent
assumptions about learning transform the way in which we use our
technology? Are we leveraging the 'trojan horse' opportunity of a new
technology to introduce foundational learning approaches and
techniques successfully? What resistances do practitioners creating
businesses around new types of learning experience, and where does
that tension come from? Is there a way to systematically change the
very system (and institutions) of learning we try to cram our
technology- or is there a way we can outgrow our system healthily?


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