Plans to bring popular online web services like Twitter, Wikipedia, blogs and podcasts into mainstream education in the United Kingdom have spurred mixed feelings nationwide and abroad.
Many have said that the proposals that were exposed in the leaked document went too far and were too radical. We have gathered five reasons why bringing new technology is not necessarily a good thing for education.
(1) The Students Know Better
It will be interesting to see what the teachers will be teaching during those courses. An overwhelming amount of the primary students already have mobile phones and are aware of texting, instant messaging and microblogging (through Facebook for example). A significant portion could even be using them already. The bottom line is that most students may already know far more than their own teachers. Peers and friends will make sure that those who are not in the know catch up fast.
Twitter's terms and conditions stipulate that you need to be 13 years or older to use the site with the failure to do so resulting in the termination of the acount. Some of the services describe in the draft curriculum document may have legal age requirements. Blogger.com and Wikipedia do not but Gmail does and so do other blogging platforms and podcasts.
Had the current draft been introduced ten years ago, students might have been encouraged to learn more about MIRC, use Geocities and learn how to participate in eGroups. Ever heard of those? Well, those past companies were famous 10 years ago, they clearly aren't now. Focusing on learning products and services that might disappear in a few years' time is not a smart idea.
What if Wikipedia starts putting adverts on the site? Twitter is already planning to get text ads and more soon. Will competitors cry foul as the UK government promote one brand instead of another? Rather than learning about Romans, Vikings, Tudors and Victorians, children, who are already bombarded with brand names outside the classroom walls, will have to get acquainted with them during learning time as well. That's essentially free advertising.
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(5) Learning concepts not products
Going down the route of learning products rather than concepts is dangerous indeed since this could dumb down learners, who would end up disoriented should Wikipedia or Twitter change their user interface, close down or introduce radically different features. Far fetched? How many times have you heard colleagues saying that they will learn Microsoft Word, rather Word processing, Excel, instead of Spreadsheet, Powerpoint, rather than A presentation Package and Windows rather than an operating system.
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