Is technology the problem rather than solution to learning choice making?

There is extensive literature that promotes digital technology as a saviour of adult learning, just as there is literature that points to the problems with and raises concerns about the same technologies. Historically, technology has provided learning opportunities for people that otherwise would have been disadvantaged, such as the School of the Air. However, the motivations today might be quite different than providing a means for students to achieve outcomes that were not possible without breaking up families by taking children away in their formative years.

In the drive to improve access and economics (often a poor mix), there have been significant pushes and developments that support institutions to use technology today in learning contexts, such as Moodle; MOOCs and more broadly in informal learning spaces with technologies like Kindle.

However, during the last twenty years, there has been a significant shift in the discussion around digital technology and whether this truly improves the quality and quantity of learning experiences, which can be observed through work by Selwyn, Gorard and Furlong (2005) later leading to real concerns, such as those cited by Selwyn (2006).

Perhaps the argument is wrong from the beginning – is this about technology improving learning or about technology giving control to politicians and business owners, or conversely and more interestingly the broader community.

Until the reason for using technology is clearly understood, it is clear that the use of technology will sometimes appear to be the problem, whereas the real problem is nobody worked out what the right question is and in what circumstances that question needs to be addressed.




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