January 12, 2006

Autono Blogger: The Inevitable Personal Learning Environment Post at incorporated subversion

Autono Blogger: The Inevitable Personal Learning Environment Post at incorporated subversion
Aaron asks
if, ultimately, technology really has that kind of transformative power, and whether or not we just kidding ourselves in our enthusiastic exploration of it?

Technology alone, of course, has no power at all; it's the people, the people who use it, the people who imagine its potential. Dave Warlick is for me someone who can see potential that I can't. He's excited about potential that he sees, and a lot of other people don't see... yet.
I'm not sure I understand fully where Brian is coming from, but I interpreted his comment as referring to the environment within which this "student-centredness" or "empowerment" is (supposed to be) taking place, in particular the power relationships and the political (in the widest sense) environment within which this conversation is taking place. This sense of context, of power context and political context, is all too often absent, and perhaps this is what Brian was referring to: that altho the technology DOES offer huge and exciting potential, the powers that be, the powers that created schools and maintain schools, the powers that HIRE teachers to do a certain job, may not share that vision of potential or the excitement, and may therefore crush, subvert or co-opt the wonderful visions of the future such as expressed by teachers in Dave Warlick's 50th podcast.

One big problem in conversations on this topic is rhetoric and undefined terms: WHOSE future are we talking about? WHOSE VISION of WHAT future are we talking about? As long as we're all bandying nice words like "education" and "future" and "potential" and "change", we can all feel good, dreaming that we share the same values and are talking about the same things. The reality is somewhat different. Unless these essential meanings are taken into account, unless terms and values are defined and identified, then I fear much of the talk, exciting tho it is, may turn out to be just so much hot air.

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