One of my initial reactions, on reading the two Selwyn articles, was to feel kinda dumb. I had honestly not really pegged that the huge disconnect between what was going on in my own teaching and learning environment and what I read about while studying for this course, was, of course wildly obvious and very familiar to many. Thank goodness!
I was particularly tickled by Selwyn’s quotation from Laurillard about what he calls the “disparity between rhetoric and reality” (Selwyn, 2010, p.66): Laurillard observes that, “education is on the brink of being transformed through learning technologies; however, it has been on that brink for some decades now” (2008, p. 1).
The point Selwyn is making is well-taken, and timely as far as I am concerned. As I approach the end of this round of studies, it’s good to reflect that much of what I have read and learned has, now I think about it being focussed on the effectiveness of the educational process, and on the ‘should’ and ‘could’ of learning, rather than on ‘how and why’ of technology as it really is at this moment. Taking a moment to think about the ‘state-of-the-actual’, as Selwyn puts it, rather than the ‘state-of-the-art’, is an important step.
Selwyn (2010) warns us to avoid ‘means-end’ thinking, where the desirability of technological methods is pre-supposed, and the problem becomes simply how to put them in place. He also makes the point that a much touted aim of educational technology is to improve the democratisation, inclusive and participatory nature of education, yet the actual deployment of technology often ignores these matters. It is important to proceed while considering “how these technologies are socially constructed, shaped and negotiated by a range of actors and interests” (Selwyn, 2010, p.69).
Laurillard, D. (2008). Digital technologies and their role in achieving our ambitions for education. Institute of Education, University of London.
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.
Selwyn, N. (2014). Education and ‘the digital’. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 35(1), 155-164. DOI: 10.1080/01425692.2013.856668.