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Home » General »   03th May 2010Print

Opportunity for systemic change: a leap is possible
Our children live in a world that is witnessing a massive proliferation of information through digital media and communication technologies. They are constantly exposed to an unending stream of audio and visual material. 

The information communication technologies (ICTs) are no longer tools to enhance or support school-based learning; rather they have become an extremely rich lucrative and powerful learning environment which holds great promise and great peril. Numerous studies point to the rapidly increasing impact of the media and the Internet learning environment on children's mindsets, sense of identity, value systems, and behaviour patterns. Although the drive for faster, cheaper, and more widespread ICTs is gaining even more momentum, little is known about the nature of the long-term impact of this addictive environment on our children and their physical, mental, social, or emotional well-being. 

Moreover, virtual social networks and tools (Google, MSN, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Napster, tags, blogs, digital cameras, mobile phones, mp3s, etc.) are becoming a new social operating system which is fundamentally changing the learning habits and processes of our youngsters and rewiring their brains to inhabit the virtual eco-system. 

Although research on the impact of ICTs on kids' learning styles is not conclusive, it is widely believed that the new emerging digital learners are more self-directed, more individualised, more proactive (creating their own individual modes of production), more selective, and more attuned to parallel and interactive group learning, less attuned to rigid linear "instruction," and better arrayed to capture new information inputs. While these learners are almost continuously partially networked and connected, their attention is frequently truncated. 

The dichotomy between the school and the ICT learning environment presents our children, their teachers, parents, and the entire education system with serious challenges. The two environments are incommensurate in many ways. The ICT learning environment is one of the fastest changing systems in history, whereas the education system is one of the slowest changing social systems in history. Recent attempts to bring computers into schools and to introduce e-curricula have yet to prove their cost effectiveness, impact, relevance, and sustainability. 

Can we truly transform school-based learning to keep our students interested, motivated, engaged, and to cater to their changing learning processes without reconsidering its basic norms and assumptions: linear subject-based curricula, textbooks, teachers, grades, and classrooms? Maybe it is time for us to have the courage to reconsider what seemed to be untouchable icons of schooling, and maybe recent advances in science and technology will make it possible for us to realise a leap long overdue.
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