Social Implications of Technology in Education


Despite being a bit outdated, I found Castells' article The social implications of Information and Communication Technologies relevant to what's currently happening with technology and education. Castells breaks down the implications of information and communication technology on society based on several categories:

  • Education
  • Economy
  • Society (inequalities)
  • Space/Time (history and urbanization)

I'll limit my discussion to Castells points on education since it's necessary to think about technology in terms of how it impacts current trends in education, particularly urban education. Castells point of view is that ICT tools should be knowledge production tools that supplement, not necessarily replace, other learning tools in education. I appreciate Castells consistent points about generating relevant knowledge through ICT tools. Castells writes,

Our economy is informational because the capacity to generate relevant knowledge, and process information efficiently, is the main source of productivity and competitiveness for firms, regions and countries (237).

Interestingly enough, Castells' point about a productive economy reminds me of Mayor Bloomberg's recent comments about his choice for Chancellor of NYC public schools, Cathie Black. He says of Black,

"There is no one who knows more about the skills our children will need to succeed in the 21st century economy,"

On one hand, I can understand why it's necessary to consider how technology, for instance, can prepare learners for a productive and competitive economy, even if it does come across as Orwellian. Though I wonder what a complete focus on technology's role within education as tool to increase productively and competitiveness in our economy, says about our view of technology and education in general. I come back to Castells main point that technology should be seen as a supplementary tool in schools, and that "increasing computer equipment is not the answer" (236). Technological determinism aside, I think the quantity argument is an important point for us to consider because it speaks to how we use ICT tools as opposed to how many or what type of "latest" tech tools we use.

On another note, I wonder if Black, being a former high profile publishing executive, has any plans for implementing more technology into public schools seeing as how she and Bloomberg seemingly want to prepare our children for a competitive economy - like the little worker bees.

*cough cough*