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Is Technology Good for Education? (Digital Futures)

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Digital technologies are a key feature of contemporary education. Schools, colleges and universities operate along high-tech lines, while alternate forms of online education have emerged to challenge the dominance of traditional institutions. According to many experts, the rapid digitization of education over the past ten years has undoubtedly been a ‘good thing’. Is Tech Digital technologies are a key feature of contemporary education. Schools, colleges and universities operate along high-tech lines, while alternate forms of online education have emerged to challenge the dominance of traditional institutions. According to many experts, the rapid digitization of education over the past ten years has undoubtedly been a ‘good thing’. Is Technology Good For Education? offers a critical counterpoint to this received wisdom, challenging some of the central ways in which digital technology is presumed to be positively affecting education. Instead Neil Selwyn considers what is being lost as digital technologies become ever more integral to education provision and engagement. Crucially, he questions the values, agendas and interests that stand to gain most from the rise of digital education. This concise, up-to-the-minute analysis concludes by considering alternate approaches that might be capable of rescuing and perhaps revitalizing the ideals of public education, while not denying the possibilities of digital technology altogether.


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Digital technologies are a key feature of contemporary education. Schools, colleges and universities operate along high-tech lines, while alternate forms of online education have emerged to challenge the dominance of traditional institutions. According to many experts, the rapid digitization of education over the past ten years has undoubtedly been a ‘good thing’. Is Tech Digital technologies are a key feature of contemporary education. Schools, colleges and universities operate along high-tech lines, while alternate forms of online education have emerged to challenge the dominance of traditional institutions. According to many experts, the rapid digitization of education over the past ten years has undoubtedly been a ‘good thing’. Is Technology Good For Education? offers a critical counterpoint to this received wisdom, challenging some of the central ways in which digital technology is presumed to be positively affecting education. Instead Neil Selwyn considers what is being lost as digital technologies become ever more integral to education provision and engagement. Crucially, he questions the values, agendas and interests that stand to gain most from the rise of digital education. This concise, up-to-the-minute analysis concludes by considering alternate approaches that might be capable of rescuing and perhaps revitalizing the ideals of public education, while not denying the possibilities of digital technology altogether.

37 review for Is Technology Good for Education? (Digital Futures)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leonard Salcido

    The title, “Is Technology Good for Education” by Neil Selwyn implies that you will get a straightforward answer to this 21st-century question. Selwyn presents a fascinating outlook on today's educational system. His potential reasons why there is a big push for technology in schools are intriguing. He talks about how “…digital education is a potent space for voicing hopes and fear of what education might become in the near future” (Selwyn, Pg. 9. 2016). This “future” however, is constantly chang The title, “Is Technology Good for Education” by Neil Selwyn implies that you will get a straightforward answer to this 21st-century question. Selwyn presents a fascinating outlook on today's educational system. His potential reasons why there is a big push for technology in schools are intriguing. He talks about how “…digital education is a potent space for voicing hopes and fear of what education might become in the near future” (Selwyn, Pg. 9. 2016). This “future” however, is constantly changing which is a problem for most teachers and school districts. He also mentioned how people outside and inside of education use words such as revolution, transformation, or improvement. These words insinuate something is wrong or not working. But who are the outside forces behind these words? Selwyn mentions if something is perceptive as broken, we must fix it (Selwyn). Usually, these outside forces who believe something is broken are the ones who profit from this so-called fix. This really struck me as a real possibility. Of course, we need to integrate technology into 21st-century classrooms but like everything in this world, someone will profit from this. To his point, in the past book companies have made huge profits and new tech companies are now selling online products to schools with a higher price tag because their technology is “cutting edge.” The presence of corporate interest and commercial values in education is not necessarily a bad thing…history suggests that business ideals, market values and the pursuit of profit often do not translate smoothly into education (Selwyn, 2016). I think Selwyn makes a great point. School districts need to evaluate what is best for their students and their community. They need to slow down and not rush into the latest trend just because another school district is doing it or because a company says this is what works best now. Selwyn also talks about the so-called “digital democratization of education”. He believes students are not able to participate in their desire education based on a number of reasons such as cost, lack of resources, situational barriers like family needs or responsibilities. He believes education should be accessible regardless of these obstacles. People should be free to choose how, what, and when they learn (Selwyn, 2016). This leads to education becoming personalized. Personalization is everywhere now, televisions, cell phones, computers, cars, etc. Selwyn states that digital personalization should also be included in the classroom. Content needs to be presented in a way that not only sparks interest but is also adapted to the student’s strengths. To highlight students’ strengths, digital or e-portfolios are great ways demonstrating accomplishments, skills, and know-how (Selwyn, 2016). Selwyn also mentions the pros and cons of “big data” within education. In support of big data, “…schools use performance data to help students choose programs better and using skills data to match students to employment opportunities more accurately (Selwyn, P.93. 2016). The downside is that teachers and students become aware that they are being tracked and monitored which can alter classroom behavior and overall academics (Selwyn, 2016). The commercialization of education is something that really scares me. Selwyn mentions that tech companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, and Google are gaining a tremendous amount of power within the education system without any real oversight. “Education is certainly an area of society where high-tech interest can be seen to “make a difference” while also turning a profit (Selwyn, P.116. 2016). As I mentioned earlier, profit is the real issue here. When the CEO of one of these companies speaks politicians and school officials listen. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. Selwyn gives good facts to back up his points. Selwyn, N. (2016). Is Technology Good for Education? Malden, MA. Polity Press.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aldo Garcia

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In his book, Is Technology Good For Education? Neil Selwyn presents asked the question that every teacher should look into. With so much push for teachers to go ahead and create the latest and greatest in education, we have to take a step back and see if the technology will really benefit our students. Technology is taking over a big part of peoples lives these days, can education benefit from technology? In the first chapter Selwyn discusses the system of education and who really benefits from " In his book, Is Technology Good For Education? Neil Selwyn presents asked the question that every teacher should look into. With so much push for teachers to go ahead and create the latest and greatest in education, we have to take a step back and see if the technology will really benefit our students. Technology is taking over a big part of peoples lives these days, can education benefit from technology? In the first chapter Selwyn discusses the system of education and who really benefits from "updating" the current system. Education has changed in the past, but it seems like in the last forty years it has really taken off with a push for technology. But every time that education has to be updated, things have to change, like books, devices, computers, learning tools have to updated. These updates on the learning tools are touted as the newest improvement in education or the next revolutionary tool. Selwyn asked the tough questions, who is pushing this educational tool, and who benefits from it. Companies stand to make a huge profit from education. So is the push for these educational tools really for the improvement of our students? Selwyn goes on to explain how education is supposed to be more democratic with technology. As technology is improving, more and more students will have access to information on the internet and therefore leveling out the playing field in education. There have even been pushes from former presidents to increase technology access, like Obama and his plan for all schools to have access to WIFI. The problem is that not all students have access to the internet. Some places, like rural villages in India, do not have access to the internet like students in more developed countries. I agree with Selwyn that technology although a great idea is not the great equalizer for all students. Basic access to WIFI will not help a student learn and succeed in his academic achievements. There are many more factors such as socio-economical factors that also play a part in your educational success. Selwyn states in his book, "The Social Disadvantages of being black, female, poor and/or having a physical or intellectual disability do not simply disappear when one learns through the internet (Selwyn 45)". There has also been a push for education online through modules or MOOC's or Massive Open Online Course that promote an equal opportunity for everyone. They are open courses that are university-affiliated, that provide all their content for free. Students can take the modules, and if they do well enough, they can gain university credit. But again as Selwyn points out, and I tend to agree, even with all the content being free and open, there are certain things that students will need help to understand. The internet can provide the resource, but without proper instruction, the resource can be interpreted in many different ways, and be misunderstood if not combined with proper teaching. Selwyn does not completely go against education in the classroom. Selwyn is an education professor at Monash University. He focuses on digital media and technology in everyday life and education. He did not write his book to make use believe that technology is the enemy of education, although it feels like it at times. As he writes in his last chapter, he writes his book, to make sure educators are asking the questions that need to be asked to help improve the learning of our students. Technology is great, but are we putting it ahead of pedagogy? Even with great resources, bad teaching will still be bad teaching, no matter how good the resource is. We have to remember that technology is a resource and not the answer to our educational concerns. Educators have to really think about technology and answer the question of will it benefit my student? And if so How?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jonna Higgins-Freese

    An interesting critique of the usually-unquestioned assumption that technology is good for education. Selwyn points out that "there has been . . . little rigorous evidence produced over the past forty years of technology leading to the sustained improvement of teaching and learning" (8). He cites Martin Weller that "the notion that education is broken has become such an accepted standpoint that it is often stated as an irrefutable fact . . . a starting position from which all else follows." And w An interesting critique of the usually-unquestioned assumption that technology is good for education. Selwyn points out that "there has been . . . little rigorous evidence produced over the past forty years of technology leading to the sustained improvement of teaching and learning" (8). He cites Martin Weller that "the notion that education is broken has become such an accepted standpoint that it is often stated as an irrefutable fact . . . a starting position from which all else follows." And what follows is usually the agenda for some kind of outside intervention from various perspectives of the free market, libertarianism, home-schooling, child-centered learning, etc."(http://jime.open.ac.uk/articles/10.53...). Some of the questions Selwyn proposes to ask: what is actually new here? what are the unintended consequences? What underlying values and agendas are implicit? In whose interests does this work? Who benefits in what ways? Waht are the social problems that digital technology is being presented as a solution to? Claims that technology democratizes access to education have not been substantiated -- "the few research reports that have been conducted on One Laptop Per child programs tend to find little or no effect on children's test scores." Other studies found that higher income children tend to make the best use of them due to family support (poorer families were more concerned about damaging or breaking a relatively expensive item) (42). Hole-in-the-wall laptop programs resulted in low level learning as well. MOOC's have reinforced rather than overcome "educational privilege and exclusivity" (43). "Most MOOC participants turn out to be young, well-educated Europeans and North Americans with graduate and postgraduate degrees who often take these courses to gain professional skills" (43). Enrollees come from top 6% of the population and about 4-8% of students complete the courses. Tressie McMillan Cottam has found that "few opportunities exit for black and ethnic minority students to bring their cultural backgrounds into OL experiences as they encounter and make sense of content. OL systems get designed and configured to 'the norm of a self-motivated, highly able individual who is 'disembodied from place, culture, history, markets, and inequality regimes.' When OL encounter students who do not conform to this norm, they tend to find fault." (45). In addition, "the democratizing of education along socially just lines requires more than access and opportunity. Instead, attention needs to be paid to the things that happen to people during their engagements with digital education and as a result of their engagements with digital education . . . which reinforces and reproduces particular forms of democracy and privilege, as well as partiuclar forms of inequality and disadvantage" (52). The idea that we remove expert guides from education and let students learn for themselves bumps up against the equal truth that "an appreciation of the value of science or maths is not something that can be discovered and recognized spontaneously by all individuals" (73). Personalized forms of education have been configured around the ideal of the "roaming autodidact" (citing Tressie McMillan Cottom) with the "requisite confidence, motivation, technologies and educational credentials to breeze their way through Khan Academy, MOOCs, TED talks and similar digital education opportunities. These are individuals who are economically comfortable, well resourced and time-rich, well positioned in the 'market' to be nimble, nomadic, and act in the flexible manner that we are told is advantageous in the digital age" (76). Personalized digital education "reframes education around market values, the language of consumer choice and the idea of learning as a 'product.' [many are] packaged neatly for the 'consumer society' with its emphasis on self-expression and lifestyle choices through individual acts of consumption" (79). Points out that data exhaust itself can be contaminated by students' and teachers' awareness that they are being monitored. In this regard, we should pay attention to those who have data 'done to" them as opposed to those who "do data" resulting in a " of 'data classes" (citing Lev Manovich in Debates in the digital humanities_). One study found stark differences in the way data is perceived and used by teachers (who saw it as requiring changes in their own practice) and principles (who saw it as requiring changes from others). (101). Much of the drive to get coding in schools was driven by the computer games industry, internet firms and software developers as well as business employers and investors. Investors in Coursera: Laureate Education (investment arm of World Bank), LearnCapital Venture Partners (Pearson as largest limited partner) and Yuri Milner) (121). The values and interests of Bill Gates and his foundation may or may not align with traditional values and sensibilities of public education (125). m Commercial interests approach education as "a system of variables that can be manipulated and modeleled like a partiuclarly complex computer-coding problem . . . issues relating to social and moral relations are inevitably left out of any equation or algorithm being used to model education or learning(129). "What is missing from a lot of education is an empahty for -- or a deep understanding of -- the perspectives, predicaments, and lives of others" (143). "Leaving everyone to their own devices is not the fairest or most just way of arranging educational participation"

  4. 4 out of 5

    Fifi

    'surely we need to ensure that all forms of digital education are pursued primarily in the general interests of the public rather than the narrow interests of the well-resourced and the privileged few?' #dezinvanhetboek #thepointofthebook 'surely we need to ensure that all forms of digital education are pursued primarily in the general interests of the public rather than the narrow interests of the well-resourced and the privileged few?' #dezinvanhetboek #thepointofthebook

  5. 4 out of 5

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  12. 5 out of 5

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  13. 4 out of 5

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  14. 5 out of 5

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  15. 4 out of 5

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  16. 5 out of 5

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  37. 5 out of 5

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