The questions concerning ICT

Concerning Educational Technology FAQ's

If technology is then, political, and politics in endeavouring to become scientific, is also political, then both are inescapably ‘human activities’ which are subject to the usual questions about means and ends, that is, about purpose and ethics. And these questions have to be asked constantly in the light of the perception that science/technology tends to the exclusion rather than the inclusion of marginalized groups.

The tendency of technical solutions to universality is itself a process of marginalisation: when the Internet brings education to distant islands or remote bays it brings with it an incorporation into that world of psychological and material technique which Ellul describes, and it renders even more marginal the cultures of its students. We have not considered, even as much as a property developer does, the environmental impact of what we do, in terms of the effects on the ontology of the subject both in terms of discipline and in terms of persons.

We have not researched the ethics or politics of the encounter between teacher and student, either in terms of the significance of bodily presence in the physical classroom, or the impact of the brain-to-brain immediacy of the internet classroom. We have not researched the ways in which Powerpoint itself – or even the OHT – tend to reduce communication to the synoptic, the emblematic, the bullet-pointed. It may well be as unethical to deny distant students the possibilities of ICT as to actively recruit them to Ellul’s world: the tension remains.

There is no innocent position but there is an obligation to consider the effects of what we do. Yet we rip into these projects without so much as an impact assessment. We make the assumption that if ICT is to bring (E)nlightenment to distant parts it should be done by us, in English, and through various techniques both technological and pedagogical. We should consider all of these things, separately and together.