These two readings were interesting to bring me back to consider the ‘big picture’ of digital technologies, especially following upon my last subject of Game-Based Learning. Schools tend to be quite insular and as teachers we tend not to look ‘beyond learning’ to consider the social, cultural, political and democratic dimensions of education (Selwyn, 2010, p.65).  Certainly, in my own practice, it was a provocative challenge by Selwyn for us to consider the bigger picture:

“how and why educational technologies are being used in the ways that they are is therefore underpinned by understandings of how these technologies are socially constructed, shaped and negotiated by a range of actors and interests” (Selwyn, 2010, p.69).

I think how social media digital tools are often used for marketing tools for schools but not as learning tools. If not banned for use within the classroom, or inhibited by high security firewalls, then they still have not have achieved mainstream acceptance..all part of the ‘messy realities of education technology use’ (Selwyn, 2010, p. 70). This also ties in with the reality of access and equity.

I think a challenge in these articles may be to reflect on Selwyn’s questions within our own professional practice (p. 69-70):

What is the use of technology in educational settings actually like?

Why is technology use in educational settings the way it is?

 What are the consequences of what happens with technologies in educational settings?

Furthermore, to look at these questions within the lens of a micro-level (the local contexts), the meso-level of the processes and procedures of our schools and educational institutions, and the macro-level of wider cultural, societal, political and economic values (Selwyn, 2010, p. 70).

It was interesting to read Selwyn comment on the ‘new literacies’ and ‘new media’ studies as ‘notable sources of critique’ especially, as one of my ‘holiday readings’ was “Best practices in teaching the new literacies of online research and comprehension’ (Leu, Zawilinksi, Forzani & Timbrell, 2014). This came about from a discussion with one of my work colleagues, who is also one of the contributing authors.

The article on “Education and the ‘digital’” resonated on a more personal level, as a parent of young adults whose online actions and interactions are certainly embedded within their lives (Davies and Eynon in Selwyn, 2014, p. 161). My children grew up in living in multiple countries. Certainly digital technologies have been central to their ongoing social relationships and friendships. However, they have also impacted in perhaps other less positive ways, where gaming as part of their online lives has affected their ability to ‘switch off’ and ‘go out and explore the world’ at different stages of their growing up. Perhaps, one of the best balancing points has been their involvement in physical sport (which they continue with).  It is certainly a provocation to ponder, especially as I see the centrality of mobile technologies in our lives today.

References:

Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65–73. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x.
Neil Selwyn (2014) Education and ‘the digital’, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 35:1, 155-164, DOI: 10.1080/01425692.2013.856668

p.s. link to article above: http://newliteracies.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/448/2014/07/Leu-D.J.-Zawilinski-L.-Forzani-E.-Timbrell-N.-in-press.pdf

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