Dai Griffiths’s Paper Proposal

Steering the use of technology in education: rationales and results

The rationale for the use of computer technology in education is considered and assessed in the context of a case study: the iTEC project, which comes to the end of its four year life in August 2014. iTEC investigates how technologies can be used effectively in classrooms, and widely deployed, with pilots in over 1000 classrooms in 17 countries. Within the context of the wider iTEC project, the Institute for Educational Cybernetics (IEC) has developed iTEC Widget Store, an infrastructure for distributing services to multiple users spread across multiple platforms.

The technological, educational and personal factors which have led to the interventions made by the iTEC project are defined, with a particular focus on how the iTEC Widget Store was conceived and developed. This analysis considers the following mutually interacting perspectives on educational technology:

a) The educational technologist.
iTEC is the latest in a series of technological interventions in education which the author and his collaborators have been involved in over the past 25 years.

b) The educational theorist.
Theoretical approaches inform interventions and their interpretation. Cybernetics was a strong influence on IEC’s contribution in this respect, building on Britain & Liber (2004)

c) The developer.
Technological interventions have a historically determined logic, as does the evolving technological context (see Kelly (2010) for a strong expression of this perspective).

d) The the policy maker.
Governments and their agencies have created programmes which are designed to promote the perceived benefits of TEL, see (European University Association, 2007; European Commission, 2013)

The ambitions for education which are associated with these perspectives are identified, and are applied in a discussion of the aims and activities of the iTEC project. The iTEC project has been assessed by funders as being ‘excellent’, has far surpassed its target of carrying out pilots in more than a 1000 classrooms, and has largely been well received by user groups. It may therefore be fairly identified as a success. However the ambitions which informed each of the four perspectives identified remain largely unsatisfied.

The gap between the rationale for TEL and its results is an urgent concern, given the increasingly assertive claims made for technologically mediated education, often building on data analytics and designed and deployed both within and beyond traditional education institutions. There is a need to critique the existing rationales for TEL interventions which is consistent with the gap between the ambitions of TEL and its results. An initial critique is offered which is grounded in the results of the iTEC project, and the cybernetic approaches adopted by the author and his collaborators.

Britain, S., & Liber, O. (2004). A Framework for the Pedagogical Evaluation of eLearning

Environments. Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/VLE Full Report 06.doc

European Commission (2013) Survey of Schools: ICT in Education. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/sites/digital-agenda/files/KK-31-13-401-EN-N.pdf

European University Association (2007). The Lisbon Declaration. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://www.eua.be/fileadmin/user_upload/files/Lisbon_Convention/Lisbon_Declaration.pdf

iTEC (2010-2014) iTEC Project Website. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://itec.eun.org/

Kelly, K. (2010). What Technology Wants (p. 416). New York: Viking Books.

Cybernetic traditions:

  • 5) Education and conversation
  • 1) Computer science; AI; robotics

3 thoughts on “Dai Griffiths’s Paper Proposal

  1. Tom Scholte

    I’m so grateful to see someone from with the TEL sector itself willing to critically engage the “increasingly assertive claims” mentioned. Bravo to you for your courage and forthrightness. Looking forward to your findings!

  2. Ranulph Glanville

    I concur with Tom Scholte’s comment.

    Recently, Michael Hohl sent me a blog he had found about the extraordinary conservatism that is implicit in so much of what we do now: that we trap ourselves in looking back, in assessment and the patterns of the past. These become very constraining, and often we don’t realise this.

    It seems to me that part of what you a re getting at is this. We need not to lose our ability to transcend, and what you are showing (I believe) is that success in satisfying the conservative patterns is not success in terms of those who want to be satisfied in moving on. The advantage of education technology should be not that it it is efficient, but that it is effective and delightful, and that it is these for the users, not the system designers.

    1. Tom Scholte

      Or that it satisfies some vague sense in the minds of higher level administrators of being “current” and being able to tick the box next to: “integrate current technologies” on their “curriculum renewal” agendas.


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