education project

back to home page
version française

• Justification

• Points to be adopted
• Objectives

» Justification

The radical changes that societies are undergoing as a result of the use of new information and communications technology create a series of expectations that are not always translated into positive elements, in that they involve both contradictions and uncertainties.

Perhaps one of the spaces in which these contradictions and uncertaities are most intensely seen is the school, understood in its broadest sense as the place at which the stages of education of children and adolescent takes place.The dizzying changes that have occured mean that the entire methodology and procedures of teaching have been turned on their heads. Teaching contents and even the logical reasoning processes of students have overturned. In consequence, the approaches and training of teachers have to change. Schools have to be able to adapt to these changes, not only to go forward but because, otherwise, they will be dragged down by these changes. Their usefulness could even be called into question. It would be the first time in history that school students have more skills than teachers.

New technology favours knowledge and understanding of diversity and social cohesion, transmits universal values, draws cultures closer and makes their diffusion easier. However, if it is badly used, it can lead towards a homogeneous and dominant culture being established which can silence or impoverish local culture. It can lead to uniformity of customs and even to the dissemination of counter-values or values intrinsic to other cultures which, when transferred to different societies, create there an attack on the foundations on which that society is based. At any rate the starting premise must be that new technology is a didactic means to reach an educational end and not an end in itself.

However, the reality is that the new information and communications technologies have already been introduced into the school. Now they must be extended and used. The necessary skills must be provided so that future citizens learn what they require for their personal, social and professional development.

» Points to be adopted

We highlight certain points that should be adopted or reinforced:

1. The permanent training of teachers has again become key in the innovative process. In many cases, it will mean an authentic change in attitude, in that there is resistance to such a sharp change in teachers'role. In effect, their customary role of personal educator andtransmitter of knowledge has to be transformed into that of director or selector of these skills. Teachers have to adapt to the reality of their environment and know how awaken in students curiosity to search out and expand their knowledge, critical and selective awareness before the invasion of information pouring over them through the new information and communications technologies. Solidarity and knowledge of other cultures have to be promoted. Networks should be used to aid communication between students from other countries. In fact, if teachers persist in their current methods, the need for them will be questioned, since they will feel overwhelmed by the knowledge acquired by their students with very little effort, as many of them have been using the new technologies at home since they were quite young. To achieve adequate skills, teachers must be taught to understand new technology, both in their initial training and through update courses, whether face-to-face or virtual, throughout their professional careers. It would also be of use to collect the experience accumulated during these years by teachers who have used new technology with their students. Successes and failures could then be weighed. In short, a didactic methodology for these educational tools needs to be worked out.

2. National or regional cultures need to be strengthened to create and publish educational materials that are instrinsic to a particular culture or which are tailored to it, and that know how to highlight, and benefit from, the richness of diversity and to respect minorities. The concrete adaptation of these materials to the most local setting is the job of the teachers. This is an important question, in that if today the educational reform processes in which many countries are immersed have been criticised for how they follow common guidelines and as attacks on cultural diversity, the effect of mass-produced educational programmes or programmes dominated by ruling values of other cultures will have negative effects. Uniform patterns of behaviour which are foreign to the cultures themselves may be introduced.

3. The influence on children's logical and reasoning processes of the widespread use of this new technology from an early age is still to be analysed. Therefore, it cannot be repeated too often that teachers are essential for the tasks of matching information with students'maturity and, in particular, ensuring that computers or television do not drive students away from books and reading. The role of reading continues at present to be vital.

4. The introduction of the new information and communication technologies has to tend towards reducing inequalities. Therefore, the efforts of governements and international finantial organisations have to focus on giving these tools to schools in the poorest countrirs and area, so as to avoid creating new forms of social exclusion and illiteracy. However, here may enter the bibbest contradiction: how can schools be provided with these computer tools if they do not even have electricity? There is a risk of opening still further the abyss between rich and poor countries and, within poor countries, between richer and poorer areas. To avoid this, urgent support measures need to be taken for those ares that need support more.

5. School fulfils essential socialisation and education functions, along with transmission of knowledge. Whereas new technology affects more this transmission of knowledge, always led by teachers, in the other functions school continues to be irreplaceable.

6. As student reach adult age, the role of new technology in their education becomes more relevant and can be a magnificient tool of distance education, which undoubtely revolutionises traditional methods.

7. Maybe new technology-and this needs still to be researched-will bring back to formal or non-formal education students excluded from the system when they were young for various reasons. For most of them there are no suitable programmes. Given how attractive new technology is for the young, it could give them them a second chance, if there is the right combination of face-to-face and virtual teaching.

Outside schools, the media, mainly television, have an active role as genuine educational agents. Their influence can even become more important than the family's or school's. However, the programmes they broadcast are often not the most appropriate for children and adolescents. Once again we find values and counter-values from other cultures being transmitted that clash with the education that children receive at school, in the family and in their immediate environment. in this area, the role of selection is fundamentally the responsability of the family. Therefore, attemps should be made "to educate the media", if only at local level, but the task is not too easy, given the global scale of the media's information transmission. There is a need to move forward with agreements on "programming ethics", in which the contents and values of the media tend towards neutrality at least. this would reduce the impact of the values of counter-cultures and dominant culture.

» Objectives

1. To reflect on teachers' new role.

2. To push forward the development of educational contents based on the use of new communications and information technology.

3. To make new ways of teaching/learning, such as study via the Internet, collaborative work and self-learning, more accessible.

4. To reinforce the role of teachers in applying information and communications technology, through permanent training and skill acquirement.

5. To facilitate dialogue between cultures and develop new educational models based on horizontal cooperation.

6. To promote research into the effects of information and communications technology on educational processes.
7. To make the media more sensitive so that they broadcast programmes transmitting intrinsic values.

8. To start working out a didactic methodology for new technology.