27 July 2011

The future of learning

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New research findings from a global study of education systems suggest that the promise of a hi-tech, high-skills, high-wage future for kids is a fantasy. Does digital media and learning offer a better future, asks Ben Williamson on DMLCentral.

“Since the 1980s there has been an increasing emphasis on educating individuals who are able to constantly update and upgrade their skills to do well in a competitive new economy which relies on new technologies, new ideas, and perpetual innovations. According to this basic model, smart learners will help rescue a nation at risk at the same time as delivering the middle class dream. Much of the work done on integrating new technology into education over the decades since then has been a variation on this basic simplification. The dream of the future embodied in these efforts has been of hi-tech, high-skills, high-wage knowledge work.

However, the promise of hi-tech learning leading to high-skills and high-wage knowledge work has now been found to be broken. […]

Clearly, the hi-tech, high-skills, high-wage future that has been promised to youth since the 1980s now looks less and less sustainable, besides being ethically dubious in the first place. […] The vision of hi-tech schooling ought to be queried and debated. […] Does the digital media and learning field offer an adequate prospectus for what Giroux calls “a future that needs your skills, critical judgment, sense of responsibility, compassion, imagination, and humility”?”

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