[iDC] learning ecologies

Tony Conrad conrad at buffalo.edu
Sat Apr 10 14:38:18 UTC 2010

2 days ago a colleague and I were commenting on the surprising emergence of so
many prodigy children in our families -- very young kids reading newspapers or
maps, providing technical or scientific information, etc. He suggested that
access to computers might be "smartening up" the coming generation; and this
would be substantially different from what happened with Sesame Street. The
answer, if one is required, would be of course that computers are interactive
instrumentalities, whereas TV is functionally authoritarian. TV is a parent; the
internet is a peer, a partner, a pal.


Tony Conrad     
Department of Media Study
University at Buffalo 

On Fri 04/09/10  3:57 PM , elana langer elana.langer at gmail.com sent:
> 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
> gainsupport 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 iscreating 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
> next?
> 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?
> Elana
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